AHL Post-All-Star News: Starry Nights
JANUARY 31, 2013 — Capacity crowds at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, television broadcasts reaching more than 100 million households internationally, 46 of the best players in the American Hockey League and two nights of last-second drama all combined to make the 2013 Dunkin’ Donuts AHL All-Star Classic another memorable showcase event.
The excitement began with the 2013 Pepsi AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday night. In the CCM Fastest Skater event, Houston Aeros rookie Jason Zucker completed his lap in 13.550 seconds, the fastest time in the 18-year history of the AHL All-Star Skills Competition. That record lasted only as long as it took the next competitor, Chris Summers of the Portland Pirates, to clock a time of 13.324 seconds and etch his own name in the record books.
Down 6-1 after three of seven events, the Western Conference began mounting a comeback. Brayden McNabb of the Rochester Americans became the fifth AHL player ever to crack triple digits in the CCM Hardest Shot contest, winning the event with a blast of 101.8 miles per hour. Matt Fraser of the Texas Stars then took the Pepsi Accuracy Shooting title by breaking four targets in five attempts.
The Western Conference still trailed 11-8 through the first round of the final event, the H&R Block Breakaway Relay, but with goaltenders Barry Brust, Petr Mrazek and Justin Peters combining to deny each of the last 14 attempts by Eastern Conference shooters, the West pulled out a 12-11 victory – the first one-goal margin since the Skills Competition was instituted in 1996.
The dramatics continued on Monday night, when Toronto Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton scored his third goal of the night with 11.2 seconds remaining in regulation to give the West a 7-6 win and a sweep of the two-day event for the second consecutive year. Hamilton, who earned game MVP honors, took a pass from Oklahoma City’s Mark Arcobello (three assists) and tucked a shot under the crossbar behind Binghamton’s Robin Lehner for the seventh hat trick in All-Star history.
AHL All-Star Game hat tricks
2013 – Ryan Hamilton, Western Conference All-Stars
2009 – Corey Locke, Canadian All-Stars (4 goals)
2009 – Jeff Taffe, PlanetUSA All-Stars
2008 – Teddy Purcell, Canadian All-Stars
2002 – Jeff Farkas, PlanetUSA All-Stars
2002 – Mike Craig, Canadian All-Stars
1954 – Dunc Fisher, AHL All-Stars
Since 2005, seven of the nine AHL All-Star Games have been decided either by a single goal or by a goal plus empty-netters, including four games that extended to a shootout and two that were decided in the waning moments of the third period.
Attendance at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Monday night was 10,846, the largest for an AHL All-Star Game since the 2006 event at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.
ALL-STAR GAME A SPRINGBOARD TO “THE SHOW”
As this year’s participants certainly know, the American Hockey League All-Star Classic showcases some of the best young talent in hockey and offers a glimpse into the future of the National Hockey League. Of the nearly 600 players who played in a midseason showcase in the AHL between 1995 and 2012, nearly 93 percent have gone on to skate in the NHL.
Eighteen players who participated in the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic a year ago have already been in the NHL during the first week and a half of that league’s season, a list that includes Tampa Bay’s Cory Conacher, Columbus’s Cam Atkinson, Anaheim’s Kyle Palmieri, Vancouver’s Zack Kassian and Ottawa’s Ben Bishop.
Meanwhile, the list of All-Star alumni in the NHL continues to grow. San Antonio’s Drew Shore made his NHL debut with Florida last week and appeared in three games with the Panthers; he joined his Western Conference teammates in Providence and then returned to Florida after the event. Sixth-year pro Matt Anderson, an AHL All-Star in 2011, got in his first NHL game with New Jersey on Tuesday night after being summoned from Albany, and Lake Erie’s Mike Sgarbossa, Texas’s Jamie Oleksiak and Springfield’s Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Tim Erixon have all been recalled since Monday night.
In addition, 11 players – Norfolk’s Peter Holland and Emerson Etem (Anaheim), Hamilton’s Brendan Gallagher (Montreal), Binghamton’s Andre Benoit (Ottawa), Hershey’s Tomas Kundratek (Washington), Zach Redmond of St. John’s (Winnipeg), Portland’s David Rundblad and Alexandre Bolduc (Phoenix), Providence’s Chris Bourque (Boston) and Toronto’s Mike Kostka and Matt Frattin (Toronto) – were all named to the 2013 All-Star rosters but missed the event due to NHL recall