AHL Weekly Release: B’s swarm to top of Atlantic


pro_200.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. … With Norfolk, Omaha and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton all seeing long winning streaks snapped last week, the Providence Bruins are the proud owners of the longest current victory string in the AHL, and have a perch on top of the Atlantic Division standings to show for it.

The Bruins (7-2-1-0) have won five in a row and have joined Portland in a first-place tie with 15 points, but their schedule over the next few weeks will prove to be a litmus test for the Black and Gold. Providence’s next eight games include two meetings with the Pirates, two trips to Worcester, a home date with division rival Hartford and home tilts against East Division powers Norfolk, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hershey, who are a combined 25-4-1-2 this season.

A former junior star in his native Czech Republic, 20-year-old David Krejci leads Providence in scoring with 10 points in 10 games, including a seven-game scoring streak that ended last week. Krejci was a second-round draft pick by Boston in 2004, taken one selection before Latvian teammate Martins Karsums, who has seven points on the year. Another European rookie, the Czech-born Petr Kalus, was a second-rounder in 2005 and has recorded four points in eight games for Providence.

First-year pro Kris Versteeg joins veteran Petr Tenkrat in a tie for second in team scoring with nine points. Sophomore Ben Walter has eight points and a team-best plus-6 rating in six games, including a four-point effort in Sunday’s 5-3 Bruins win over Binghamton, and his five goals allow him to share the club lead with Pascal Pelletier, who now has 54 points in 63 games with the Bruins over the last two seasons.

Defenseman Matt Lashoff, a first-round draft pick in 2005, has a goal and an assist in five games for the AHL Bruins this season, and has also made his National Hockey League debut with Boston, skating in five contests and earning an assist. Forward Nate Thompson has also been on the Beantown shuttle this season, earning two separate recalls and playing in his first two career NHL games.

Providence got an added boost on Tuesday when Boston assigned defenseman Mark Stuart and goaltender Hannu Toivonen to the AHL club. Stuart has not played since offseason surgery to repair an injured knee; Toivonen has struggled this year in Boston, but was one of the top goaltenders in the AHL during the 2004-05 lockout season, leading Providence to the Calder Cup conference finals.

Scott Gordon’s P-Bruins take their five-game winning streak into a busy weekend, as they host Norfolk on Friday night and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday, with a trip up to the DCU Center in Worcester sandwiched in on Saturday evening.

SEVEN-UP FOR KROG … Chicago Wolves forward and AHL scoring leader Jason Krog tallied three goals and assisted on four others in Saturday night’s 10-5 win at Peoria, becoming the first AHL player in nearly eight years to record seven points in a game.

On Nov. 25, 1998, Providence teammates Randy Robitaille and Landon Wilson each picked up seven points in a 14-2 win at Syracuse, a game in which the Bruins set an AHL record by scoring 10 times in the first period.

Krog, who has racked up nine goals and 16 assists while recording a point in each of the Wolves’ 12 games this season, fell two points shy of the AHL record for a single game. Art Stratton of the Buffalo Bisons recorded nine points (all assists) in a win over Pittsburgh on Mar. 17, 1963.

AHL HALL TO GROW … The American Hockey League will announce the AHL Hall of Fame’s induction class of 2007 on Nov. 15.

The new members, who will join last year’s seven inaugural honorees (Johnny Bower, Jack Butterfield, Jody Gage, Fred Glover, Willie Marshall, Frank Mathers, Eddie Shore), will officially be enshrined at the AHL All-Star Classic Luncheon in Toronto on Jan. 29, 2007, as part of the festivities during the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic.

FEHR GAME … Hershey Bears forward Eric Fehr answers questions submitted by AHL fans when he steps into the AHL Chat Room this Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 8. Questions for Eric can be submitted at theahl.com until Wednesday morning.

KNIGHTS-MARLIES ON RSN … The Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, top affiliate of the Calgary Flames, and the Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs) square off on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and the game will be televised live on Rogers Sportsnet in the network’s East, Ontario and West regions.
Saturday afternoon’s AHL game between Toronto and Hamilton will also be played at the ACC, a prelude to the Hockey Hall of Fame Game between the Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens that night.

ETC. … Peoria’s penalty killing is clicking at 98.0 percent in its six wins and one shootout loss this season, allowing one goal in 51 times shorthanded; in the Rivermen’s five regulation losses, they have allowed 14 power-play goals in 38 chances (63.2%)… Norfolk won all seven games on its homestand from Oct. 13 to Nov. 1, outscoring its opponents by a 33-12 count… Chicago has won each of its seven road contests in 2006-07 by a combined score of 38-15… Hartford rookie Ryan Callahan scored a goal in five straight games until being held scoreless in Sunday’s 2-1 win at Bridgeport… Blake Comeau’s 12 points for Bridgeport this season have come in three games, recording four points on Oct. 8, five points on Oct. 13 and three points on Nov. 3; he is scoreless in his other eight outings… Drew Stafford made his NHL debut on Sunday and assisted on the winning goal in Buffalo’s overtime win at Madison Square Garden… At 3-7-1, Houston’s Josh Harding is already one loss away from matching his total from all of last season (29-8-0)… Going back to 2005-06, Portland’s Michael Leighton has stopped 12 consecutive shootout attempts and 19 of the last 20… After Friday’s 2-1 shootout victory over Lowell, Manchester has earned a point in 16 straight meetings with New Jersey’s AHL affiliates (14 wins, 1 tie, 1 overtime loss)… Tickets for the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic go on sale to the general public on Nov. 13 at 10:00 a.m. ET.