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Canadian stars shine brightest

A five-goal second period, highlighted by a goal and two assists by Mike Zigomanis of the Lowell Lock Monsters, led the Canadian AHL All-Stars to a 9-5 victory over the PlanetUSA AHL All-Stars in the 2004 AHL All-Star Game, played tonight in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Zigomanis scored what would be the game-winning goal with 5:17 left in the second, and his three-point effort earned him honors as the Pepsi All-Star Most Valuable Player.

Chad Wiseman of the Hartford Wolf Pack and Benoit Gratton of the Hamilton Bulldogs also recorded a goal and two assists apiece for the Canadian team, which won its fifth consecutive AHL All-Star Game. Rookie defenseman Aaron Johnson of the Syracuse Crunch scored twice, while Eric Perrin of the Hershey Bears and team captain Terry Virtue of the Worcester IceCats picked up two assists each.

Matt Murley of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins led the PlanetUSA side with two goals and an assist, and Bridgeport Sound Tigers forward Jeff Hamilton added a goal and two assists. The PlanetUSA All-Stars settled for a split of the weekend event, after winning Sunday’s Skills Competition by a score of 18-9.

Wade Dubielewicz of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers stopped 23 of 25 shots for the Canadians, and Ray Emery of the Binghamton Senators turned aside 22 of 25. Emery earned the victory for the second straight season, and joins current Minnesota Wild goaltender and 2004 NHL All-Star Dwayne Roloson as the only players with two career AHL All-Star wins.

Michigan native Ryan Miller of the Rochester Americans made 16 saves on 20 shots, and Springfield Falcons netminder David LeNeveu, who switched from the Canadian team to the PlanetUSA team after injuries sidelined Kari Lehtonen and Rastislav Stana, stopped 16 of 21.

The game was witnessed in person by a crowd of 9,220 at Van Andel Arena, and the telecast was picked up by 22 regional sports networks across the United States and Canada.

The road to the Calder Cup 2004 Playoffs continues when the American Hockey League’s 68th season resumes on Wednesday night.