Pirri, Johnson win scoring races

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.Brandon Pirri of the Rockford IceHogs has won the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the leading scorer in the American Hockey League, while Tyler Johnson of the Syracuse Crunch has won the Willie Marshall Award as the AHL’s leading goal scorer for the 2012-13 campaign.

Pirri played all 76 games for Rockford this season and set career highs with 53 assists (tying for the AHL lead) and 75 points, including 19 points in his last nine games as the IceHogs were bidding to reach the Calder Cup Playoffs. Pirri also had a plus-11 rating for the season and scored six game-winning goals for Rockford.

A 22-year-old Toronto native, Pirri has totaled 57 goals and 117 assists for 174 points in 212 games over his three AHL seasons. The second-round draft pick by the Chicago Blackhawks (2009) also has two assists in six career NHL contests.

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), Darren Haydar (2007), Alexandre Giroux (2009), Keith Aucoin (2010), Corey Locke (2011) and Chris Bourque (2012).

Johnson captured the AHL goal-scoring title with 37 goals in 62 games, including five goals in his last three games after returning from an NHL stint with Tampa Bay. Johnson was also named the AHL’s most valuable player for the 2012-13 season and earned a spot on the league’s First All-Star Team while helping the Crunch to the East Division title.

The 22-year old native of Spokane, Wash., finished with 65 points and a plus-26 rating for Syracuse this season, and added three goals and three assists in 14 NHL contests with the Lightning.

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. Jeff Hamilton (2004), Mike Cammalleri (2005), Donald MacLean (2006), Denis Hamel (2006), Brett Sterling (2007), Jason Krog (2008), Alexandre Giroux (2009, ’10), Colin McDonald (2011) and Cory Conacher (2012) were the first winners of the Willie Marshall Award; 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 30 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 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway on Friday.