MacLean’s rocket boosts Canadians

WINNIPEG (CP) – When Donald MacLean found out he’d be competing in the hardest shot event in the American Hockey League All-Star Classic’s skills competition Tuesday, he didn’t give himself much of a chance to win.

It turns out MacLean was wrong. The Grand Rapids Griffins forward won the competition with a shot that clocked in at 98 miles per hour in front of 14,738 fans at the MTS Centre. MacLean, from Sydney, N.S., admitted before the competition that his shots aren’t exactly missiles.

"My prediction is I won’t win," said the nine-year pro, who leads the AHL in goals with 32.

"I don’t have the hardest shot, maybe in the mid-80s."

Since the AHL brought back the all-star game in 1996, the hardest shot registered was 101.0 mph by Canadian defenceman Kurtis Foster in 2003.

MacLean, 29, is making his second all-star appearance.

"It’s just nice to be recognized for having a good year," said MacLean, who also has 15 assists this season for 47 points.

Through all seven events, Canada defeated PlanetUSA 21-12, the first time in three years the Canadians have won the overall competition.

The game between the Canadian All-Stars and PlanetUSA is Wednesday (TV, 8 p.m. ET).

The captain of the Canadian squad is 30-year-old Manitoba Moose forward Jimmy Roy, who was competing in the fastest skater event.

Known more for being a pest than a skilled skater, Roy also thought he wouldn’t win. He was right.

But Roy did achieve one goal, laughingly pointing out he was just glad he beat a bantam skater who was also taking part in the competition.

Ryan Shannon of PlanetUSA was crowned the faster skater, rounding the ice in 14.084 seconds. The Portland Pirates forward was the AHL’s rookie of the month for October, and has 47 points this season.

Martin St. Pierre from Embrun, Ont., and Massachusetts native Keith Aucoin, each hit four of their eight targets in the accuracy shooting event.

St. Pierre, a forward with the Norfolk Admirals, said his father used to set up a hockey target platform in the family’s driveway.

Using a thick, plastic sheet borrowed from the boards of a nearby hockey rink, St. Pierre would stand on the ice-like surface with a bunch of pucks and fire them at a net.

"I haven’t done (accuracy drills) since I was 10, 12 years old," said St. Pierre, a 22-year-old, second-year pro who has 33 points (12G, 21A) in 34 games this season.

Notes: The honourary captain for PlanetUSA is former NHL player, coach and general manager John Ferguson. His Canadian team counterpart is former NHLer Ab McDonald of Winnipeg. … More than 93 per cent of the players who have appeared in an AHL All-Star Classic since 1995 have gone on to compete in the NHL.