AHL Today: St. John’s stopped at six, Abbotsford takes division lead

AHL Today is a roundup of the night that was, the day ahead, and anything you may have missed. Your quick look at what’s going on around the league.

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To Watch:

  • CHARLOTTE at ABBOTSFORD: One day after the Heat absolutely dismantled the Checkers 7-1, the two faceoff again with Charlotte needing to get a few stops on the penalty kill in the rematch. The Heat powerplay went 3-for-8 in last night’s contest, with Max Reinhart, Blair Jones, and Markus Granlund picking up the tallies. In his AHL debut, Olivier Roy made 25 stops in the win, while the Checkers tandem of John Muse and Mike Murphy got shelled by the Abbotsford offense. With the win, Abbotsford moved into first place in the West Division and second in the Western Conference.
  • SYRACUSE at ROCHESTER: In a game that is a story of two teams going in opposite directions, the Crunch travel into Rochester to take on the Americans. The Amerks, winners of their last seven, could push their streak further and move into sixth place in the West with a win over the slumping Crunch, and getting some help in the form of a Milwaukee loss. The Crunch, who have only a single point in their last seven games, will have goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis back for the contest. John Parks, we hardly knew ye.

Last Night:

  • PROVIDENCE 3, ST. JOHN’S 2: You win some, you lose some — and fortunately for the IceCaps they haven’t lost many lately. The IceCaps had their winning streak snapped at six games thanks to strong play by the Providence Bruins. In the third period, Bruins forward Craig Cunningham picked up a shorthanded tally to put the Bruins in front and, not long after, Anthony Camara potted one of his own to make put the Bruins in front 3-1. The ‘Caps Ben Chiarot would pull St. John’s within one just over a minute later, but it wouldn’t be enough. Malcolm Subban picked up the win, as Michael Hutchinson lost to his former team — the first loss he’s suffered in his last seven starts.
  • SPRINGFIELD 4, ALBANY 0: On a day when the Godfather of Springfield Falcons hockey decided to step back from his role with the franchise, Bruce Landon got to watch the Falcons go to work on the visiting Devils. It started early with an Alex Aleardi snipe just under five minutes into the first frame, and a three goal second period buried the Devils before they could get anything started. Mike McKenna was outstanding for the Falcons, stopping all 25 pucks that came his way. Helping Springfield to the win was their penalty kill, which went a perfect 4-for-4.

Moves:

Abbotsford Heat
Evan Trupp (F) To: Alaska Aces
Turner Elson (F) To: Alaska Aces
Milwaukee Admirals
Simon Moser (F) To: Nashville Predators
San Antonio Rampage
Anthony Luciani (F) From: Cincinnati Cyclones
Toronto Marlies
Mike Duco (F) From: Orlando Solar Bears
Utica Comets
Pascal Pelletier (F) To: Vancouver Canucks
Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins
Harry Zolnierczyk (F) To: Pittsburgh Penguins
Andrew Ebbett (F) From: Pittsburgh Penguins
Worcester Sharks
Eriah Hayes (F) From: San Jose Sharks
Chris Crane (F) To: Ontario Reign

News & Notes:

    • A bit of sad news, as Keith Allen has passed away. The longtime Philadelphia Flyers GM had a hand in the creation of the AHL’s Maine Mariners, the only team to ever win back-t0-back Calder Cups in its first two years of existence. [The Modesto Bee]
    • From the Lewiston Sun Journal, the press conference for the Pirates can be seen below.

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After over 30 years, Bruce Landon steps away from Springfield Falcons

After over a quarter-century in the front office of Springfield hockey, Bruce Landon, the Springfield Falcons president, part-owner, and general manager, has decided to step away from the game.

In a press conference this afternoon, the 64-year-old London, Ont. native spoke to the media, fans, and friends who had assembled to hear what the Falcons were calling a major announcement. Landon, who won a Calder Cup as a member of the Springfield Kings during the 1970-71 season, has been a steadfast figure in the hockey landscape of Springfield. After suffering a career-ending injury as a member of the Springfield Indians in 1977-78, Landon, then 28, was brought on to work the Kings broadcasts and work in an executive role with the team.

Landon would be honoured as the league’s top executive in 1981, and would go on to become the franchise’s general manager the following year, a role he held until today.

When the Indians, in 1994, were sold to a new ownership group that had intentions to move the team out of Springfield (they became the Worcester Ice Cats), Landon rallied together an investment group that secured ownership of an expansion team. That team, now known the Falcons, will celebrate their 20-year anniversary next season.

At the conference, Landon said he will remain on with the team as the director of hockey operations, but won’t maintain any other roles with the team, instead working with them during the transition period. Katharine McCarthy, who was on hand at the event, tweeted that Landon cited “hitting a brick wall a couple months ago and not being able to give what he felt was his all.”

According to McCarthy, management from Springfield will conduct a search for a new president, but filling the position is not of paramount concern.

From MassLive.com:

“(Owner) Charlie Pompea accepted the challenges of making this franchise successful. I feel comfortable in the direction this franchise is going to go,” Landon said in a true torch-passing moment.

Pompea has owned the team since late 2010. But the face of the franchise has always been Landon.

Landon said he will devote more time to his family. He cited at least one Christmas morning that he spent working when he could have been home.

His successor, at least on an interim basis, said filling Landon’s shoes will be a challenge.

“There is a lot to do, but the goal is still for us to keep moving forward,” said Sarah Pompea, whose role to this point has been highlighted by her supervision of the Falcons’ growing charitable foundation.

Charlie Pompea reiterated the team’s commitment to a city that has hosted AHL hockey for most of the last 78 years.

“The Springfield Falcons will be there for you, just as Springfield has been there for us,” Pompea said.

(Cover image courtesy BusinessWest.com)

Portland Pirates, Cumber County Civic Center reach agreement

After being jettisoned to Lewiston, ME. and playing half a season away from their home building, the Portland Pirates have reached a lease agreement with the Cumberland County Civic Center that will see the team head back home.

Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy broke the story, and the Pirates are set to make an announcement at 2 p.m.

The lease agreement, which was previously approved by the CCCC’s Board of Trustees by a 6-2 margin, was submitted to the Pirates with the explicit direction to have a response by Monday. Majority owner Ron Cain and his team have come to a decision that will see the team back in Portland at the beginning of next season.

The agreement will keep the Pirates in the CCCC for the next five years, beginning with the 2014-15 season with this current lease expiring in 2019-20.

Playing in Lewiston has severely hurt attendance for the Pirates, who went from drawing an average of 4,444 fans per game last season to roughly 2,400 a night in Lewiston.

From Roy:

The lease will take effect beginning for the 2014-’15 season and potentially keep the team at the Civic Center where the team has played since it relocated from Baltimore in 1993. The hockey team has played this season at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston since the dispute broke out in August.

The Pirates were originally scheduled to play 13 games in Lewiston, while the Civic Center underwent a $37 million renovation that is mostly complete. The Civic Center will begin hosting events next weekend with the Maine Home Show, scheduled for Feb. 15.

The Pirates, however, will not return to the Civic Center until next season due to its current lease with Firland Management, owners of the Colisee, and the logistics of moving the team to Portland with less than three months left in the season.

AHL Today: St. John’s goes for seven, Albany and Springfield battle for Northeast Division

AHL Today is a roundup of the night that was, the day ahead, and anything you may have missed. Your quick look at what’s going on around the league.

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To Watch:

  • PROVIDENCE at ST. JOHN’S: The IceCaps host the Baby B’s in an attempt to win their seventh straight. The Bruins and ‘Caps, only separated by three points in the standings, are fighting for positioning in the Eastern Conference. Michael Hutchinson, formerly of the Bruins, hasn’t relinquished the goaltending duties since this run began, and posted a .932 SV% through January. Brenden Kichton is coming off Rookie of the Month honours, and looks to carry the hot hand into the game. Niklas Svedberg has started the last three games for Providence, but Malcolm Subban could see a spot start.
  • ALBANY at SPRINGFIELD: In a divisional battle, the Devils roll into Springfield to take on the Falcons. Albany walked away with a shutout win the last time the two met, but aside from the win/loss columns, the two teams are almost eerily evenly matched. Goals for? Springfield 136, Albany 139. Goals against? Springfield 119, Albany 120. Springfield comes in losing four of its last five in regulation, so Albany can gain some ground in the division if they take advantage of the sliding Falcons.

Last Night:

  • No games on the schedule.

Moves:

Abbotsford Heat
Joni Ortio (G) To: Calgary Flames
Ben Street (F) From: Calgary Flames
Thomas Heemskerk (G) From: Quad City Mallards
Chicago Wolves
Dmitrij Jaskin (F) To: St. Louis Blues
Hamilton Bulldogs
Christian Thomas (F) To: Montréal Canadiens
Norfolk Admirals
Chad Painchaud (F) From: South Carolina Stingrays
Sami Vatanen (D) From: Anaheim Ducks
Toronto Marlies
Gregg McKegg (F) From: Toronto Maple Leafs
Jerred Smithson (F) To: Toronto Maple Leafs
Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins
Nick D’Agostino (D) From: Wheeling Nailers
Harrison Ruopp (D) From: Wheeling Nailers
Worcester Sharks
J.P. Anderson (G) To: San Francisco Bulls

News & Notes:

  • AHL linesman Chris Woodworth is taking his craft global: working the lines in Sochi. [Democrat & Chronicle]
  • The Texas Stars posted an amazing time-lapse clip of the changeover in Cedar Park as they go from basketball court to ice surface. [Texas Stars]
  • An interesting opinion piece by Clare Austin at Puckology supporting Riku Helenius and positing that the situation may have been the result of some mismanagement. [Puckology]

Morin, Kichton, and Hartzell get Player of Month honours

Travis Morin, Brenden Kichton, and Eric Hartzell have taken home AHL Player of the Month nods for their performance in January.

Morin, the AHL’s leading scorer with 65 points (26-39), had his best month of the season to date, putting up ten goals and 11 assists en route to Player of the Month. The 30-year-old Morin has appeared in three games for the Dallas Stars this season, just the fifth, sixth, and seven games of his career in the bigs. A ninth-round pick of the Capitals in 2004 — back when the draft went that long — played his way up to the AHL after completing four years with the NCAA’s MSU-Mankato and two years in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays.

An AHL veteran, Morin has racked up 272 points in regular season action in the AHL. Currently on a two-way deal with a cap hit of $550,000, Morin’s career has consistently seen the forward get to the next level, so he could be given some time to see if he can put it together in the NHL with Dallas next season.

St. John’s IceCaps defenceman Kichton, who received the Rookie of the Month honour, also set a career high for points in a month with 14 in January. The rookie defenceman’s three goals and 11 assists came on the strength of five multi-point contests, with a career-high three-point (1-2) game coming against Providence on Jan. 26.

Drafted in the fifth-round of the 2011 draft by the New York Islanders, Kichton went unsigned and re-entered the draft where he was selected in the seventh-round by the Winnipeg Jets. So far, the selection is paying dividends for the Jets, as Kichton made a good month better by earning a selection to the AHL All-Star team that will take on Farjestad in St. John’s next week.

Finally, Goaltender of the Month was awarded to Eric Hartzell of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Hartzell was signed by the Penguins organization after completing four years at Quinnipiac University. In his final season in the NCAA, Hartzell was awarded ECAC Player of the Year, Goaltender of the Year, and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

January was one to remember for Hartzell, as he went 5-2 with a 1.33 GAA and .944 SV%. As for the season, in 18 games with the Baby Pens, the rookie goaltender has posted a 1.85 GAA and a .925 SV%.

AHL Today: Bears back in win column, Crunch’s Dolgon “confident” in new home

AHL Today is a roundup of the night that was, the day ahead, and anything you may have missed. Your quick look at what’s going on around the league.

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To Watch:

  • No games on the schedule.

Last Night:

  • HERSHEY 3, NORFOLK 1The Bears, just one day after having their six-game winning streak snapped, got back in the win column. With a 3-1 win over the Admirals, the Bears moved within a point of the St. John’s IceCaps and Albany Devils who sit in sixth and seventh place in the Eastern Conference respectively. The win also gets the Bears some ground on the Ads — currently in fifth place — as the league heads into the All-Star break.

Moves:

Worcester Sharks
Matt Tennyson (D) To: San Jose Sharks
Grand Rapids Griffins
Cory Emmerton (F) From: Detroit Red Wings
Syracuse Crunch
Jordan Henry (D) To: Florida Everblades
Utica Comets
Guillaume Lépine (D) From: Evansville Icemen

News & Notes:

  • 19-year-old Jared Doyon wanted to get behind the mic for his hometown Hartford Wolfpack as the public address announcer. He’s getting that chance Tuesday, when the Wolfpack take on the visiting Adirondack Phantoms. [Record-Journal]
  • Mark Cundari, the newest Chicago Wolves defenceman, is already feeling at home on his new club’s blue line thanks to familiarity with a lot of the team. [Howlin’ Wolves]
  • The Syracuse Crunch are looking to get out of the War Memorial, and owner Howard Dolgon said he was confident that the Crunch could be getting a new venue. [Syracuse.com]

AHL Today: Texas blasts Toronto, AHL linesman heading to Sochi

AHL Today is a roundup of the night that was, the day ahead, and anything you may have missed. Your quick look at what’s going on around the league.

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To Watch:

  • NORFOLK at HERSHEY: The Bears had their six-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Adirondack Phantoms, but look to start anew as they take on the streaking Norfolk Admirals. The Ads have won two straight and picked up at least a point in each of their last eight games, helped along in part by the league’s second pest penalty-kill. The Ads PK is moving along at an 88.4 per cent clip, allowing a league low 22 powerplay goals against.

Last Night:

  • NORFOLK 3, SYRACUSE 2 (SO): It was the most memorable AHL contest in the history of the league for John Parks. Parks, a 46-year-old practice goaltender who has filled in for the Crunch during a few pre-game skates, was called upon to man the backup role for Syracuse. After Grant Rollheiser, the goaltender Syracuse inked to a tryout deal, was unable to make it to the game in time, Parks got the call, $300, and his game jersey. Not a bad Saturday. As for the game, the Crunch took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Jon DiSalvatore, fell behind on goals by Admirals forward Norm Ezekiel and defenceman Steve Eminger — both firsts of the season — then clawed back to tie it on a shorthanded goal by Dana Tyrell. Crunch goaltender Allen York stopped 29 of 31 shots in the loss, helping Syracuse to a single point in his debut for the team.
  • TEXAS 6, TORONTO 0: This may be the rare case where the game sheet does tell the story. Outshot 49-19, the Marlies were shorthanded 11 times, allowed three powerplay goals, and Texas absolutley poured it on. Cristopher Nilstorp was back in action for the Stars, stopping all 19 shots that came his way in the victory.

Moves:

Albany Devils
Mike Sislo (F) From: New Jersey Devils
Charlotte Checkers
Cam Ward (G) To: Carolina Hurricanes
Milwaukee Admirals
Simon Moser (F) To: Nashville Predators
Norfolk Admirals
David Steckel (F) To: Anaheim Ducks
Oklahoma City Barons
Mark Arcobello (F) From: Edmonton Oilers
Providence Bruins
Paul Kenny (G) To: ——
San Antonio Rampage
Drew Shore (F) From: Florida Panthers
Springfield Falcons
Tim Erixon (D) To: Columbus Blue Jackets
Syracuse Crunch
Kristers Gudlevskis (G) From: Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Marlies
Gregg McKegg (F) To: Toronto Maple Leafs
Worcester Sharks
John McCarthy (F) From: San Jose Sharks

News & Notes:

  • Very cool story about Chris Carlson, a part-time AHL linesman, who is heading over to Sochi to work the lines for the Olympic tournament. [Edmonton Sun]
  • Adam Clendening is having a great season with the Rockford IceHogs, and waiting patiently for his shot at the NHL with the Blackhawks. [ESPN Chicago]
  • Saturday night’s game between Portland and Binghamton was a parade to the penalty box. The Pirates set a franchise record, racking up 134 PIM. The previous record? 119, set nearly twenty years ago on Nov. 20, 1996. [Pirates Radio]

AHL Today: Toronto heads into Texas in Western Conference showdown, San Antonio trifecta ends in OT

AHL Today is a roundup of the night that was, the day ahead, and anything you may have missed. Your quick look at what’s going on around the league.

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To Watch:

  • NORFOLK at SYRACUSE: As you may or may not have heard, Syracuse ran into some trouble filling their crease for this afternoon’s affair with the visiting Admirals. After both their goaltenders were recalled by the Lightning, Riku Helenius’ suspension for breach of contract, and getting Allen York on loan from ECHL South Carolina, they had to go out and sign another goaltender to back up York, and signed Grant Rollheiser from the CHL’s Brampton Beast. Suffice to say that goaltending in Syracuse will be the thing to watch in this contest.
  • TORONTO at TEXAS: After their overtime defeat of the Rampage last night, the Marlies head into Texas to take on the West Division leading Texas Stars. Texas won the last meeting between the two teams, a convincing 5-2 victory back on Nov. 23, but dropped the first matchup this season 3-2 in shootout. In their two games this season, Stars’ Cameron Gaunce leads all players with three points — all assists.

Last Night:

  • MANCHESTER 5, BINGHAMTON 1:  The Sens were just three minutes away from being shutout by the Monarchs when they travelled to Manchester, but a David Dziurzynski goal with 2:51 left on the clock in the third period. Nathan Lawson got the hook halfway through the game after he allowed five goals on 21 shots. Jean-Francois Berube got the win for the Monarchs, stopping 27 of 28 shots, and Tanner Pearson had the game-winner with just over five-minutes left in the first.
  • TORONTO 4, SAN ANTONIO 3 (OT): San Antonio’s Western Whooping Tour came to an end last night as they failed to complete the clean sweep of the West’s top seeds. The Rampage were a minute away from the win, but with 55 seconds left on the clock, Marlies winger Jerry D’Amigo buried one to tie the game at 3. In the extra frame, Toronto got a powerplay, and newest Marlie Brandon Kozun buried the winner just 34-ticks into the extra frame. San Antonio successfully took a point from each of the top three seeds in the West, but fell just short of the trifecta.

Moves:

Syracuse Crunch
Kristers Gudlevskis (G) To: Tampa Bay Lightning
Cédrick Desjardins (G) To: Tampa Bay Lightning
Rochester Americans
Brandon MacLean (F) To: Florida Everblades
Albany Devils
Mike Sislo (F) To: New Jersey Devils
Éric Gélinas (D) From: New Jersey Devils
Hershey Bears
Ryan Stoa (F) From: Washington Capitals
Tyson Strachan (D) To: Washington Capitals
Lake Erie Monsters
Vincent Arseneau (F) To: Denver Cutthroats
Mikaël Tam (D) To: Denver Cutthroats
Charlotte Checkers
Sean Dolan (F) To: Florida Everblades

News & Notes:

  • MLive’s Brendan Savage on Patrick Eaves, who turned an early season demotion into a positive thing and is turning it into some success back with the Red Wings. [MLive]
  • AHL.com with a nice piece on Brodie Reid getting things back together this season with the Worcester Sharks. [AHL.com]
  • Fans in Utica last night set this season’s record for a 50/50, putting together a pot of $15,400.

 

(Cover image courtesy Wally Gobetz.)