AHL Weekly Release: Moose surging into New Year

mtb_200.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The Manitoba Moose will become the first team to hit the halfway point of its 2006-07 season when they take to the ice for Game 40 on Thursday night. But the Moose have come out of a hectic stretch of games within striking distance of first place in the AHL’s North Division.

Manitoba played 17 games in 31 days during the month of December, with road trips to Pennsylvania, Texas and Ontario sprinkled in among eight games back home in Winnipeg. The Moose went 8-5-2-2 along the way and have earned points in 11 of their last 12 (7-1-2-2), closing to within four points of division-leading Rochester heading into the Amerks’ two-game visit to the MTS Centre this week.

The Moose offense has been led by the trio of Brad Moran, Jason Jaffray and Lee Goren, who rang out 2006 with seven points each over Manitoba’s last three games.

Moran, who played five seasons with division rival Syracuse before signing with the Vancouver Canucks last offseason, has climbed to sixth in the AHL’s scoring race with 43 points in 34 games in 2006-07. Moran led the Moose with 22 points in December, and is now three points up on Jaffray, whose 20 goals are already an AHL career high. Jaffray’s 40 points in 38 games played include a four-goal game at Chicago back on Oct. 24. Goren, who is looking for his fifth straight 20-goal AHL campaign, has 12 goals and 22 assists for 34 points in 31 games for the Moose this season.

Alex Edler, a 20-year-old rookie, is emerging as one of the top young defensemen in the AHL, with 14 points in 22 games with the Moose. Edler is also one of nine players to play in both Winnipeg and Vancouver this season, skating in 12 NHL games with the Canucks, and joins fellow rookie Patrick Coulombe and second-year pro Nathan McIver as players who have made their NHL debuts on the Canucks blue line in 2006-07.

Drew MacIntyre, who helped knock the Moose out of the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs while playing for Grand Rapids, is 7-6-2 on the year for Manitoba, including wins in six of his last eight decisions. MacIntyre shares the Moose’s goaltending duties with Wade Flaherty, whose 9-9-2 mark puts him at 280 victories over his professional career.

Rookie head coach Scott Arniel and the Moose slow the pace down in January, playing nine games between now and the All-Star break. Their next four contests are against the two teams they are chasing in the North, as Rochester visits this week and Hamilton comes to town Jan. 11-12.

THE HAYDAR REPORT … Chicago forward Darren Haydar extended his AHL-record scoring streak to 36 games in dramatic fashion on Saturday night, assisting on Jared Ross’ shorthanded goal with 8.8 seconds left in a 5-3 loss to Rochester.

Haydar was then recalled by the parent Atlanta Thrashers on Monday, but did not play in their New Year’s Day matinee in Ottawa. His scoring streak will be considered intact should he return to Chicago this season.

Haydar leads the AHL with 75 points, the same total he had for the entire 2002-03 season when he was named the league’s top rookie and finished sixth in the overall scoring race. During the 2006 calendar year (including regular season and playoffs), Haydar tallied 61 goals and 108 assists for 169 points, including at least one point in 90 of his 103 games.

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BEARS TOPS IN ’06 … Considering their outstanding run last spring and their league-leading start to 2006-07, it should come as no surprise that the Hershey Bears owned the AHL’s best regular-season record during calendar year 2006, earning 109 points in 80 games for a .681 points percentage.

The East Division placed three teams in the top four overall in 2006, with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton checking in at .667 and Norfolk (.661) leading the league with 51 wins and 111 points.

The top record in the Western Conference in 2006 belonged to the Peoria Rivermen, who were 47-24-3-6 (.644) in 80 games last year.

Portland, winners of the Atlantic Division in 2005-06, finished fourth overall in 2006 with a .665 points percentage.

Rounding out the top 10 were Grand Rapids (.633), Milwaukee (.623), Chicago (.619), Hartford (.599) and Manitoba (.578).

ADS, BUCS SWAP FIVE … A five-player deal between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks on Thursday had major implications on their AHL affiliates. Pierre Parenteau and Bruno St. Jacques headed from Portland to Norfolk, while the Pirates acquired the services of Sebastien Caron, Matt Keith and Chris Durno.

Parenteau recorded three assists and St. Jacques was a plus-1 in their Norfolk debuts, a 4-3 win over Lowell on Friday night. Caron was on the short end of Portland’s 2-1 loss to Springfield on Friday, then was recalled and dressed for the Ducks’ game in Minnesota on Sunday. Keith had a goal and an assist in the Pirates’ 3-2 shootout loss to Worcester on Saturday.

ETC.Josh Langfeld played six games in six nights last week, skating for Grand Rapids on Tuesday and the parent Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday and Thursday before returning to the Griffins for a three-game weekend… Joey Tenute has scored the game-winning goal in each of Hershey’s last four games, and is now tied for the league lead with five game-winners on the season… Omaha’s Andrei Taratukhin has six goals in his last four games, after scoring three in his previous 30… Albany defenseman Johnny Boychuk has seven goals in his last 10 games after going scoreless over his first 24… Peoria played two games last week in which every goal was scored on the power play – a 4-3 win in Grand Rapids on Dec. 26 and a 3-2 win over Hamilton on Dec. 31… Tomas Popperle made 55 saves in Syracuse’s 3-2 shootout loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday night… Noah Clarke ended a 15-game drought and became Manchester’s all-time leader with his 72nd career goal on Saturday at Hartford… The Monarchs’ Jason LaBarbera moved into sole possession of seventh place in AHL history with his 25th career shutout on New Year’s Eve vs. Springfield… Milwaukee’s Rich Peverley and Norfolk’s Brandon Bochenski both had 14-game scoring streaks snapped on Friday night… Providence rookie T.J. Trevelyan completed his first month in the AHL with 10 goals in 14 games during December… AHL shooters are 0-for-12 on penalty shots this season… Following a name change on Monday, the Albany River Rats’ home arena is now known as the Times Union Center.