Crunch teammates claim AHL scoring titles

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … Teammates Carter Verhaeghe and Alex Barre-Boulet of the Syracuse Crunch have won the American Hockey League’s two prestigious offensive awards for the 2018-19 season.

Verhaeghe has won the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the leading point-getter in the AHL, while he and Barre-Boulet will share the Willie Marshall Award as the AHL’s leading goal scorer in 2018-19.

Verhaeghe captures the first AHL scoring title ever by a Crunch skater, and the first by a Syracuse skater since Norm Locking of the Syracuse Stars led the league in scoring in 1939-40. A First Team AHL All-Star selection for 2018-19, Verhaeghe finished the season with a league-best 82 points in 76 games. The 23-year-old native of Toronto, Ont., has amassed 73 goals and 102 assists for 175 points in 211 career AHL games, and was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning in a trade with the New York Islanders on July 1, 2017.

Verhaeghe and Barre-Boulet each tallied 34 goals to earn the Willie Marshall Award; they join Tyler Johnson (2012-13) as the only Crunch skaters ever to lead the AHL in goal-scoring. Named to the AHL All-Rookie Team earlier this week, Barre-Boulet finished the season with 68 points in 74 games, good for first among all league rookies. The 21-year-old native of Montmagny, Que., signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay on Mar. 1, 2018.

The AHL’s leading-scorer trophy was originally named after Wally Kilrea, who held the AHL’s single-season scoring record when the award was instituted in 1947-48. That year, Carl Liscombe broke Kilrea’s record, and the award was renamed in his honor. In 1955, the AHL Board of Governors voted to name the trophy after John B. Sollenberger, a long-time contributor to the league as manager and president of the Hershey Bears and former Chairman of the AHL Board of Governors. Previous winners of the John B. Sollenberger Trophy include Fred Glover (1957, ’60), Willie Marshall (1958), Bill Sweeney (1961, ’62, ’63), Don Blackburn (1972), Paul Gardner (1985, ’86), Bruce Boudreau (1988), Peter White (1995, ’97, ’98), Derek Armstrong (2001), Jason Spezza (2005), Alexandre Giroux (2009), Keith Aucoin (2010), Brandon Pirri (2013), Travis Morin (2014), Chris Bourque (2016), Kenny Agostino (2017) and Chris Terry (2018).

The AHL’s goal-scoring award was established in 2004 to honor Willie Marshall, the AHL’s all-time leader in goals, assists, points and games played; winners include Mike Cammalleri (2005), Alexandre Giroux (2009, ’10), Colin McDonald (2011), Cory Conacher (2012), Tyler Johnson (2013), Teemu Pulkkinen (2015), Frank Vatrano (2016), Wade Megan (2017) and Valentin Zykov (2018). Other previous yearly goal-scoring leaders include Bryan Hextall (1937), Lou Trudel (1942, ’45), Fred Glover (1951), Dunc Fisher (1958), Jimmy Anderson (1961, ’64), Yvon Lambert (1973), Gordie Clark (1980), Paul Gardner (1985, ’86), Jody Gage (1988) and Brad Smyth (1996, 2001).

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 31 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sixteen clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway Wednesday.