Lehtonen named AHL’s top goalie for March

The American Hockey League announced today that Kari Lehtonen of the Chicago Wolves has been named the Koho AHL Goaltender of the Month for March. In 10 starts last month, Lehtonen posted a record of 9-1-0 with a 2.57 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage, leading the Wolves into first place in the West Division.

Lehtonen won his first nine decisions of March, running his personal winning streak to 13 games. He made at least 40 saves in a game four times during the month, all in one-goal wins on the road. Lehtonen stopped 42 shots in a 2-1 win at Cincinnati on Mar. 4; made 42 saves in a 4-3 win at Hamilton on Mar. 11; turned aside 41 shots in a 3-2 win at Cincinnati on Mar. 18; and recorded 40 stops in a 7-6 win at Syracuse on Mar. 23. His 33rd win of the season, against Edmonton on Mar. 16, established a Wolves franchise record.

In recognition of his achievement, Lehtonen will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Wolves home game.

A native of Helsinki, Finland, the 21-year-old Lehtonen is 36-16-2 on the season with a 2.34 goals-against average and four shutouts. He ranks second in the AHL in wins, third in saves (1,596) and fourth in minutes played (3,199). The second overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Lehtonen was selected to participate in the AHL All-Star Classic in 2004 and 2005, and was named the minor pro prospect of the year by The Hockey News in 2004.

Other nominees for Koho AHL Goaltender of the Month include Ray Emery of Binghamton, Wade Dubielewicz of Bridgeport, Dimitri Patzold of Cleveland, Tyler Moss of Edmonton, Joey MacDonald of Grand Rapids, Yann Danis of Hamilton, Steve Valiquette of Hartford, Mike Smith of Houston, Cam Ward of Lowell, Mathieu Garon of Manchester, Wade Flaherty of Manitoba, Adam Munro of Norfolk, Kirk Daubenspeck of Portland, Ryan Miller of Rochester, Travis Scott of San Antonio, Jean-Marc Pelletier of Springfield, Mikael Tellqvist of St. John’s, Andrew Penner of Syracuse and Jamie Storr of Utah.