Weekend notebook: Lashoff, Dumont honored by All-Star captaincy

Photos: Mark Newman, Scott Thomas

📝 by Patrick Williams

One of them will be returning to his home province.

The other will be representing a club for which he first played as an 18-year-old prospect in 2009.

They are both captains of their respective AHL clubs, and they will add another captaincy to their resumes at the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Bell in collaboration with Manulife Bank this Sunday and Monday in Laval.

Last month the AHL named Syracuse Crunch forward Gabriel Dumont and Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Brian Lashoff as playing captains for the event.

That honor brings Dumont, a native of Degelis, Quebec, back to his home province and to a hockey market where he got his pro start. Now 32 and a veteran of 657 AHL contests, Dumont went to the Montreal Canadiens as a fifth-round pick in the 2009 National Hockey League Draft and played his first six campaigns in the Habs organization, captaining their AHL affiliates in Hamilton and St. John’s for two seasons.

Dumont joined the Tampa Bay Lightning organization in 2016, spent a couple of seasons with the Iowa Wild, and returned to Syracuse last season, posting career bests in goals (30), assists (32) and points (62) for the Crunch. Last summer, he signed a two-year AHL deal to remain in Syracuse, where he has put down roots.

And for Lashoff, who is also 32 and in his 13th pro season, he has played all 610 of his AHL games with the Griffins, third-most of any player in league history who has spent his career with one club. From Albany, N.Y. — just four hours south of Laval — Lashoff first signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent out of the Ontario Hockey League in 2008 and made his pro debut with the Griffins on Mar. 29, 2009, skating at forward in a game against the Philadelphia Phantoms at the Spectrum. Along the way, Lashoff has twice lifted the Calder Cup (2013, 2017) and also made 136 NHL appearances with the Red Wings.

This will be Dumont’s second All-Star appearance; he represented the Canadiens organization at the 2013 event in Providence. Ten years later, he returns in what he admits was a surprise. He will have his wife, two boys, and other family members in Laval for the event. His days in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League were 90 minutes away with the Drummondville Voltigeurs for four seasons.

“I’m really proud and really happy to be able to have a moment like [this],” said Dumont, who has 19 points (12 goals, seven assists) in 28 games with the Crunch this season. The event being in Quebec “is like a cherry on top.”

Both Dumont and Lashoff have had their assorted NHL experiences. Each day they are surrounded by NHL hopefuls on their respective clubs. This invitation to Laval will allow them to meet even more NHL prospects, and they can relate to that young enthusiasm.

Alex Henry and Jimmy Bonneau were early pro mentors for Dumont with Hamilton. He can also remember his first opportunity with the Canadiens back in the 2011-12 campaign, his second full one as a pro.

“As a young French hockey player, it’s basically a dream come true,” said Dumont, who has played 90 NHL games with the Canadiens, Lightning, Ottawa, and Minnesota. “You’re part of the Montreal Canadiens. You sit in the same room as Rocket Richard, Guy Lafleur, Jean Beliveau, and all of these [players] who have sat there before you. It’s basically like we played when we were young in the street.

“I was able to sit in that room, wear that jersey. It was an immense honor that I will remember the rest of my life.”

Dumont has settled in with the Crunch. Lashoff only has had to leave Grand Rapids when it came time to join the Red Wings, making a home in the organization. Support, be it from the organization or Grand Rapids fans, cemented that long-time bond. Those elements make Grand Rapids a very attractive spot for AHL veterans.

“It’s a family atmosphere, and I think I kind of realized that as soon as I came to Grand Rapids,” said Lashoff, who is making his first trip to the AHL All-Star Classic. “The organization as a whole has been amazing to me and my family throughout the years.

“I think the support from the fans is among the best in the league. I think this city is a great city to play in. It’s not too big of a city, but you show up on a weekend night at Van Andel, it can be sold out.”

Through years of bus rides, practices, demanding weekends, and grueling Calder Cup Playoff runs, Dumont and Lashoff have made themselves AHL fixtures. The AHL grants the All-Star captaincy honor for service and leadership, and both players have delivered plenty of that.

Now they have a chance for a relaxing weekend and time away from that grind. Soon enough, the second-half stretch drive will begin in full, and both players will be ready for that.

“Never take it for granted,” Dumont said of a life in hockey.


The Springfield Thunderbirds welcome the Bridgeport Islanders to MassMutual Center in the AHLTV Free Game of the Week on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET).

Springfield enters the weekend having won six in a row, tying a franchise record. Saturday is the team’s annual Simpsons themed Ice-O-Topes night.

The Islanders host Hershey on Friday before heading to Springfield. Bridgeport is coming off a 2-0 masterpiece on the road last Sunday against the Bears, in which Jakub Skarek handled 39 shots and Arnaud Durandeau potted a pair of power-play goals.

🏒 Along with that home loss to Bridgeport, Hershey also fell on the road to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday, 5-2. It is only the second time this season that the Bears have suffered back-to-back regulation losses. They also had won their first seven meetings with the Phantoms this season going into that contest.

🏒 Still going in his 17th pro season, Phantoms captain Cal O’Reilly is gearing up for another stretch-drive race to the Calder Cup Playoffs. O’Reilly has four points in his last four games, including the 700th point of his AHL career on Jan. 20 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Lehigh Valley has climbed into fourth place in the Atlantic Division, only three points behind Charlotte.

“Now it’s starting to get close to that time,” O’Reilly said of the race to the playoffs. “It’s really the best time of year. Just have fun with it and enjoy it. Let’s go out and play well so that we give ourselves the best chance. Get into the playoffs, and you never know what can happen.”

🏒 David Bell makes his debut as interim head coach of the Belleville Senators on Saturday when they host Rochester.

Bell replaces Troy Mann, who was relieved of his duties following Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Amerks.

Bell, 45, is in his fourth season as an assistant coach with Belleville after being hired on June 27, 2019.

🏒 The Providence Bruins have been running with a three-goalie set-up of late.

Rookie Brandon Bussi (13-2-4, 2.20, .934) ranks second in the league in GAA and first in save percentage. He will represent the Bruins at this weekend’s All-Star Classic in Laval. Then there is veteran Keith Kinkaid, who is in his first season in the Boston Bruins organization.

And Kyle Keyser is back healthy, and making his own case for playing time. Keyser missed more than two months with an injury, but is 6-0-2 with a 1.88 GAA and a .931 save percentage in his 10 appearances this season.

Each of the three goaltenders drew a start during Providence’s three-in-three set last weekend.

🏒 The Iowa Wild put a 12-game point streak (9-0-2-1) to the test this weekend when they visit the Rockford IceHogs tonight and Saturday.

Iowa has gone 6-1-0-0 against Rockford this season, including three one-goal decisions at the BMO Center — twice in the shootout and once in overtime.

The Wild have been able to put together this run despite a challenging schedule. Last week at home they pulled off a win and grabbed a point in an overtime loss against the Coachella Valley Firebirds, whose .769 points percentage leads the AHL. Earlier this week the Wild went to Texas to face the Stars, the Central Division leader, and picked up three of four points with a win and an overtime loss.

🏒 Tucson Roadrunners captain Adam Cracknell mostly likes what he sees lately.

The Roadrunners, winners of five of their last seven, continue a seven-game road swing with a two-game visit to Ontario this weekend. Bakersfield handed Tucson a 7-3 defeat on Tuesday, and the Roadrunners are now only five points clear of the Condors, who hold the Pacific Division’s seventh and final playoff spot.

“I think we’re coming along pretty good here,” Cracknell said. “I think we’re starting to trust each other more and starting to trust the system more every day.”

🏒 Tucson will have to contend with Reign forward Lias Andersson this weekend.

Andersson, 24 and the seventh overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers, has scored 11 goals in his last 11 games and has reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. He came to the Los Angeles Kings organization in October 2020 for a second-round pick that later netted the Rangers forward Will Cuylle, who has spent most of this season as a rookie with Hartford. Last season Andersson had injury troubles that held him to only 24 games between the Kings and Reign.

He has his health back, too.

“I feel good,” Andersson said. “I’ve been doing a lot of rehab and a lot of work on my hips and groin.”

Andersson continues to click with first-year Reign head coach Marco Sturm, who was a Kings assistant coach for Andersson’s first two seasons in the Los Angeles organization. Sturm had 242 goals during his 938-game NHL career and meshes well with the highly skilled Andersson.

“[Sturm is] good with details, especially for us forwards,” Andersson said. “To have a guy like that around, it’s huge.”

A six-game losing streak that bled into January gave way to a strong performance the rest of the month in which the Reign went 8-3-1-0. They closed out January with a 5-2 win over Colorado on Tuesday, behind 43 saves from Matthew Villalta.

🏒 The fourth and final showdown of the season on Calgary ice between the Wranglers and Bakersfield will have a large crowd on hand for the AHL’s answer to the Battle of Alberta.

Calgary announced Thursday that they will be opening up the Scotiabank Saddledome’s second level tonight with a large crowd expected.

Bakersfield took a 5-1 win on Thursday, scoring four third-period goals to break the game open. It was the Condors’ first win in seven tries against the Wranglers, whose 30 wins and 62 points still lead the AHL.


🗣️ “I think Aatu is an outstanding kid. His work ethic is amazing. He’s got a great hockey brain. I think his skill set is there. You saw his development through the course of this year. He continually tries to learn. I think the biggest thing that jumps out is he’s a coachable kid. He’s hungry to get better, and his work ethic is his second to none. Obviously you’ve got to give up something great to get something great, and that’s what the Islanders did. It’s good for him.”

— Bridgeport Islanders head coach Brent Thompson on forward Aatu Raty, who was part of this week’s deal with the Vancouver Canucks that landed the parent club veteran forward Bo Horvat.