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AHL Weekly Release: Flames turning up the heat


qclogo_200.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The Quad City Flames have responded in a big way from a tough nine-game road swing in late January, winning a franchise-record six games in a row to pull back into contention for their first Calder Cup Playoff berth.

The Flames’ streak ended with a 2-1 overtime loss in Peoria on Sunday, but Quad City brings an even 23-23-6-5 (57 points) mark into the new week, putting them seven points back of Rockford for the fourth and final guaranteed postseason spot in the fluid West Division race. With points in seven straight games, the Flames now find themselves on the brink of surpassing the .500 mark for the first time all season.

Quad City’s offense has been sparked all season by a tandem of newcomers in Jamie Lundmark and Kyle Greentree. A former first-round draft pick, Lundmark paces the Flames with 52 points (15-37-52) in 54 games and had 10 points in his previous 10 contests before earning a recall to parent-club Calgary on Friday. Greentree, a second-year pro who made his Calgary debut on Saturday night, shows a team-high 28 goals (28-23-51) in 54 matches for Quad City, already bettering the 24 goals and 48 points he put up as an AHL rookie with Philadelphia in 2007-08.

Third-year pro Kris Chucko is also enjoying a breakout year for the Flames. The 2004 first-round draft pick has registered career highs in goals (20), assists (18) and points (38), and his five game-winning tallies lead the team. Carsen Germyn, in his fourth season with the Flames organization, has put up 37 points in 52 games, and third-year pro David Van der Gulik has added 14 goals and 27 points. Rookie Adam Cracknell registered his first multiple-goal game in the AHL against San Antonio on Friday and shows 22 points (9-13-22) for the season, while second-year pro Brett Sutter, son of Calgary general manager Darryl Sutter, has chipped a career-high six goals and 18 points through 51 contests.

A veteran of 552 NHL games and a Stanley Cup champion with Detroit in 1998, defenseman Anders Eriksson ranks fifth on the Flames with 41 points in 52 games, and he had a season-high six-game scoring streak halted on Sunday. Rookie rearguard Ryan Wilson, who racked up 146 points in 126 games of junior hockey for Sarnia (OHL) over the last two years, has chipped in 20 points while skating in all 57 games for Quad City thus far. Fourth-year defenseman Brett Palin is yet another Flame enjoying a career year, showing five goals and 15 points and earning a spot in the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic.

Rookie goaltender Leland Irving, a first-round draft pick by Calgary in 2006, is tied for fifth in the AHL with a 2.35 goals-against average through 27 appearances (12-11-1).

Head coach Ryan McGill’s Flames play 22 of their remaining 23 games within the West Division, including seven meetings with fifth-place Iowa. Quad City plays three games in three nights this weekend, beginning with a visit to Milwaukee on Friday evening.

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TLUSTY PUTS UP FIVE … Toronto left wing Jiri Tlusty netted five goals in the Marlies’ 8-5 win over Syracuse on Wednesday, becoming the first AHL player to accomplish the feat since Hartford’s Jarkko Immonen did it in a 6-0 win at Portland on Feb. 4, 2006.

Tlusty’s effort was part of an offensive onslaught by the Marlies over the last two weeks, as Toronto has won six of its last eight games while scoring 42 goals in that span. The 20-year-old winger has led the way with 19 points (10-9-19) and a plus-13 rating in those eight contests.

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST END … The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins dropped a 4-1 decision at Hamilton on Saturday, ending their winning streak at a season-high nine games. The streak began on Jan. 30, the Pens’ first-game after the All-Star break, and was tied with Manitoba for the second-longest run in the AHL this season, behind Hershey’s 11-game streak from Nov. 14 to Dec. 7.

The Penguins have put together four nine-game winning streaks in their history, including three over the past two campaigns, but have been halted in search if win number 10 each time.

Saturday’s defeat also brought an end to goaltender John Curry’s personal 11-game winning streak. An AHL All-Rookie goaltender last season, Curry now ranks second on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s career list with 46 victories in 71 games (46-20-3), just two wins shy of Sebastien Caron for the top spot.

THIS LOOKS FAMILIAR … A handful of names from around the AHL last weekend matched up against former teams and had varying levels of success. On Friday in Philadelphia, goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin earned the victory with 25 saves in the Phantoms’ 7-2 win over Portland, whom Aubin helped backstop to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008.

Sunday’s slate featured the return of San Antonio head coach Greg Ireland to Grand Rapids, where his Rampage dropped a 5-4 decision. Ireland was the Griffins’ bench boss from 2005-07, leading them to a pair of playoff appearances and a conference finals appearance in 2006. Also Sunday, Manitoba center Jason Krog returned to the Allstate Arena ice for the first time since last June 10, when he skated off with the Calder Cup and playoff MVP honors for the Wolves. Krog posted an assist on Sunday, but his Moose fell by a 2-1 count.

ETC. … Worcester forward Ryan Vesce’s 17-game scoring streak (9-18-27) ended in the Sharks’ 2-1 overtime victory at Springfield on Friday… Philadelphia has surrendered just four power-play goals in its last 61 shorthanded situations (93.4 percent) over a span of 12 games… Jeremy Williams has netted a goal in five straight games for Toronto since being reassigned by the Maple Leafs on Feb. 13… Lowell finished 3-0-0-1 against Albany this season but is 1-8-1-2 against the rest of the East Division, with six match-ups remaining against East foes… Tim Brent recorded Rockford’s fourth hat trick of the season, but first on the road, in the IceHogs’ 4-1 win at Milwaukee on Thursday… After his overtime tally against Portland on Saturday, Hartford defenseman Michael Sauer has seven career AHL goals, three of them game-winners… Wolf Pack rookie Matt Zaba has stopped 141 of 149 shots over his last five starts (4-1-0, 1.60, .946)… Dan Jancevski, who went from a plus-22 rating with Hamilton in 2006-07 to a minus-34 between Norfolk and Iowa last season, is tied for fourth among AHL defenseman with a plus-18 rating back with the Bulldogs this year… Ryan Kinasewich’s goal for Hamilton in a 3-1 loss to Syracuse on Sunday was the 3,000th regular-season tally in Bulldogs franchise history… Houston is 14-for-31 on the power play (45.2 percent) in six meetings with Iowa this season, including a 4-for-4 effort on Feb. 14 and a 4-for-6 on Feb. 19… The Albany River Rats return to action on Wednesday night in Bridgeport after rescheduling both of last weekend’s games; beginning Wednesday, the Rats will play 25 games over the final 47 days of the regular season.