Hat tricks ring out 2004

In Friday’s AHL action, four players celebrated the end of 2004 with memorable three-goal performances:

In Binghamton, Denis Hamel scored three times, Jason Spezza added two goals and two assists and Josh Langfeld picked up two goals and an assist as the Senators rolled past Springfield, 7-1. Hamel now ranks third in the AHL with 21 goals on the season, while Spezza is first with 49 points.

Brandon Bochenski chipped in with three assists for the Sens, who were coming off a 7-3 loss to Hershey on Wednesday, in which locked-out NHL’ers Spezza, Brian Pothier, Antoine Vermette and Anton Volchenkov were a combined minus-16 with no points.

Pothier and Vermette each had two assists on Friday, as did Chris Kelly.

At the Wachovia Arena, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Michel Ouellet capped his hat trick with four seconds left in regulation as the Penguins ousted Bridgeport, 5-1. Ouellet, a 30-goal scorer as an AHL rookie last season, already has a league-best 24 goals in 2004-05.

Matt Murley added a goal and an assist and Kris Beech recorded two assists. The line of Ouellet, Murley and Beech finished the month of December combining for 53 points (23g, 30a) and a plus-58 rating in 12 games.

In Edmonton, Tony Salmelainen scored three times and Brad Winchester twice as the Road Runners held on for a 5-4 win over Cleveland.

The Barons had raced to an early two-goal lead 87 seconds into the game on goals by Jason Jaffray and Pat Rissmiller. Edmonton rallied twice to take a 4-3 lead, and Salmelainen capped his hat trick with an empty-net goal at 19:19 of the third period. That goal stood up as the game-winner after Nick Bootland cut the deficit to 5-4 at 19:51.

Salmelainen leads the Road Runners with 13 goals, 24 points and a plus-18 rating on the season. Winchester is now tied for second with 12 goals.

And in Hershey, in the 100th regular-season meeting between these in-state rivals, Mathieu Darche scored three times in regulation, including twice in the final four minutes of the third period, to set up the Bears’ 4-3 shootout win over Philadelphia.

Peter Budaj made 37 saves before going 4-for-4 in the shootout.

Darche, a member of Milwaukee’s Calder Cup championship team a year ago, leads the Bears with 14 goals on the season.

Elsewhere on Friday:
Juraj Kolnik scored twice to lift San Antonio over Cincinnati, 3-1… Derek Roy and Jason Pominville each picked up a goal and an assist in Rochester’s 3-1 win over Albany… Mike Zigomanis had a goal and two assists and Brent Krahn made 40 saves as Lowell beat Manchester, 4-1, handing the Monarchs their first regulation loss in 15 home games this season (13-1-1-0)… Dan Focht had a goal and two assists as Hamilton scored three power-play goals in the third period of a 5-0 win at Grand Rapids… Patrick Traverse and Rickard Wallin scored in the final 3:49 of regulation to lead Houston past Norfolk, 3-1… Hannu Toivonen made 35 saves as Providence blanked the Pirates, 3-0, before a standing-room-only crowd of 7,027 in Portland… Ryan Kesler had two goals and an assist in a losing cause as Chicago got 24 saves from Kari Lehtonen and got past Manitoba, 4-3… Chad Wiseman‘s goal at 3:34 of the third period was the difference as Hartford edged Utah, 2-1.