All-Star notebook: Teammates impressed by MVP’s Wolf, Dostal

Photo: Vitor Munhoz / Arena du Rocket Inc.

📝 by Patrick Williams

LAVAL, Que. … “Five?” Ontario Reign offensive dynamo T.J. Tynan half-asked, half-yelled from his locker room stall when he overheard that next-door neighbor Seth Griffith had put up five goals at the Mise-o-jeu AHL All-Star Challenge on Monday night.

Griffith has worked magic with the puck in the AHL for parts of 10 seasons, and he put on a show at a sold-out Place Bell. So did Tynan, who posted three goals to go with three assists to lead all players with six points in the tournament.

Yet Griffith could not help but come away impressed by what he saw from a pair of his for-one-night-only teammates in net. In his third season with the Bakersfield Condors, Griffith gets a steady diet of the Calgary Wranglers and San Diego Gulls on his schedule.

That means a lot of Dustin Wolf and Lukas Dostal, two top-tier goaltending prospects who shared Most Valuable Player honors. The Dostal-Wolf tandem shut down 42 of 49 shots in the 3-on-3 round-robin tournament featuring the AHL’s four divisions.

“I’m glad I wasn’t shooting on them tonight,” said Griffith, whose night including the championship-winning goal as the Pacific Division shut out the Atlantic Division, 1-0. “It’s nice to have a night off from them [for] once.”

Complete with two assists for Dostal, another helper for Wolf, a goaltending change on the fly, and save after save, two young netminders dazzled more than 10,000 fans and TV audiences across Canada and the United States — and Griffith himself.

“They got the MVP for a reason,” Griffith said.

The 21-year-old Wolf has put himself on a fast track to the National Hockey League in a season-and-a-half as a pro with the Calgary Flames organization. He has gone from a seventh-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft to someone who has backed up a dream rookie season with perhaps an even more dominant effort.

Last season with the Stockton Heat, the Flames’ former AHL affiliate, Wolf pushed the eventual Calder Cup champion Chicago Wolves to six games in the Western Conference Finals following a regular season in which he captured the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s top goaltender as well as nailing down spots on the league’s First All-Star Team and All-Rookie Team.

Now Wolf has the Wranglers fighting for first place overall in the NHL’s top development league with his 26-6-1 record, 2.19 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and four shutouts.

Meanwhile Dostal, 21, is in his third season in San Diego and seemingly on the brink of breaking through full-time with the parent Anaheim Ducks. They landed him with a 2018 third-round selection, and he already has impressed in early NHL time during a strong performance while on recall in December. And while the Gulls have struggled this season, Dostal has not. He has put up a .910 save percentage and has been a workhorse, too, playing 33 games for San Diego in addition to his seven appearances with the Ducks.

Henderson Silver Knights captain Brayden Pachal, who had a strong night himself with five points (two goals, three assists). also came away impressed — yet again — by what he saw from his Pacific Division goaltenders.

“They’re just super-consistent and super-athletic,” Pachal said of Dostal and Wolf. “They don’t let anything easy past them, and they don’t quit. When you play them in the regular season, you know it’s going to be a tough night.”

🏒 Players each year at the AHL All-Star Classic fit time into a packed schedule to take in the league’s Hall of Fame ceremonies.

Seeing the enshrinement of five new inductees left an impression Monday morning at Théâtre Marcellin-Champagnat in Laval.

“It’s eye-opening,” said Central Division head coach Neil Graham, who was making his first trip to an All-Star Classic. “You see the emotional investment. You see families that have been part of this [journey]… Builders that have been on the business or management side, players that have had amazing careers, and they talk about what it means to them. And you look at these young men in the dressing room with us, and I know I’ve said ‘humbling’ quite a bit, but it really is, just to be around it for all participants.

“It’s great to get on the ice, but then really to go to that Hall of Fame ceremony, it gives you a whole new level of appreciation.”

🏒 Charlotte Checkers forward Riley Nash has been extra-busy lately.

In December the veteran of more than 600 NHL games went to Switzerland to compete in the Spengler Cup for Team Canada. Then came his All-Star selection. And along the way, he has rediscovered the offensive touch in his game as the Checkers battle for Atlantic Division positioning.

Nash, who leads the Checkers in goals (16), assists (21) and points (37), carried that production with him to Laval, where he picked up a goal and an assist for the Atlantic Division.

After a chaotic 2021-22 season in which he split time with the Winnipeg Jets, Arizona Coyotes and Tampa Bay Lightning — twice being claimed off waivers and also spending time with the Syracuse Crunch — a relaxing weekend felt right. It capped a strong first half to his return to Charlotte, where he spent parts of three seasons between 2010 and 2013 as a Carolina Hurricanes prospect.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Nash said of his first half.


🗣️ “Just to look good behind the bench.”

— Pacific Division coach Mitch Love on his job Monday night.