Coaches named for 2019 AHL All-Star Classic

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Mike Vellucci of the Charlotte Checkers, Benoit Groulx of the Syracuse Crunch, Tim Army of the Iowa Wild and Roy Sommer of the San Jose Barracuda have clinched the honor of coaching at the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield, to be held January 27-28 in Springfield, Mass.

The Checkers, Crunch, Wild and Barracuda all owned the best record in their respective divisions as of the pre-determined deadline: the end of play today (Dec. 31).

The AHL’s All-Stars will be divided into four teams, one representing each of the league’s four divisions, for the 2019 AHL All-Star Challenge on Jan. 28. The teams will participate in a round-robin 3-on-3 tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played at 3-on-3.

The 2019 AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 27 will pit the All-Stars from the two Eastern Conference divisions against those from the two Western Conference divisions in seven skills events.

Mike Vellucci will coach the Atlantic Division All-Star team after guiding Charlotte to the best record in the American Hockey League over the first three months of the season (24-8-3-0, .729). Vellucci, 52, is in his second season with the Checkers and will be making his first appearance at the AHL All-Star Classic.

Benoit Groulx will head to the All-Star Classic for the second time in his three years as coach of the Crunch, as Syracuse sits atop the North Division at 20-8-2-0 (.700). Groulx, 50, led the Crunch to a division title and a trip to the Calder Cup Finals in 2016-17, and has a record of 104-66-12 in his two-plus seasons with the team.

In his first season with Iowa, Tim Army has the Wild at 18-8-4-3, good for a Central Division-best .652 points percentage. Army, 55, has more than 30 years of coaching experience in his career, including 15 seasons in the NHL as an assistant with Anaheim, Washington and Colorado. This will be his first AHL All-Star Classic.

Roy Sommer will lead the Pacific Division All-Star team thanks to a record of 18-6-1-3 (.714) with San Jose entering Monday’s action. Currently in his 21st season as head coach of the San Jose Sharks’ top affiliate, Sommer is the AHL’s all-time leader in wins (743) and games (1,576). Sommer, 61, coached the PlanetUSA team at the 2000 AHL All-Star Classic and was on the Eastern Conference staff in 2015.

Playing rosters for the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield will be announced later this week.

Tickets for the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield are priced at $39, $49, $59 and $99, and include admission to both the Skills Competition on Jan. 27 and the All-Star Challenge on Jan. 28. Tickets are available now at springfieldthunderbirds.com/allstar.

The 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League: since 1995, more than 94 percent of All-Star Classic participants have gone on to compete in the National Hockey League, including Jake AllenPatrice BergeronBen BishopZdeno CharaLogan Couture, Connor Hellebuyck, Braden HoltbyTyler JohnsonMartin Jones, Jonathan Marchessault, Brandon Montour, William NylanderZach Parise, Mikko RantanenTuukka RaskPekka RinneJason SpezzaP.K. Subban and Mats Zuccarello.

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives, broadcasters and staff of all 31 National Hockey League teams. More than 87 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers. In 2017-18, over 6 million fans attended AHL regular-season and playoff games across North America for the 17th year in a row.