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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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: 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]

Cumberland County Civic Center make offer to Pirates

When the Portland Pirates and the Cumberland County Civic Center couldn’t reach an agreement on a lease to begin the season, the Pirates picked up and moved operations to nearby Lewiston, ME. A new lease agreement put forth by the CCCC could bring the Pirates back home.

The lease agreement, first reported by Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy, was approved by trustees of the CCCC by a 6-2 vote. However, Roy reports that the agreement must be accepted by Feb. 3 or the deal expires.

In April of last year, the two sides had agreed to an outline of a lease agreement, but talks later broke down over parts of the deal. One issue was the division of money received from the sale of liquor on the premises.

In December, Ron Cain, a minority owner at the time the initial talks broke down, acquired a majority stake in the team.

Roy tweeted out he wishes he could be “more optimistic about today, but the reality is this is it. If both sides can’t agree this time. Its over.”

The Portland Pirates front office was unavailable for comment at the time of this writing. This story will continue to develop.

Pirates’ Petrovek: “Very real possibility” Coyotes affiliation could be terminated

And the saga continues.

After it came out earlier this week that the Portland Pirates and CCCC were heading to court and that court documents were already being filed, it appears the stakes have gotten even higher for Brian Petrovek and his Portland Pirates.

The Portland Press Herald has seen an affidavit, signed by Petrovek, that states the “there is a very real possibility that the Coyotes could terminate our relationship with them.”

While the plan was for the Pirates to head back to the Cumberland County Civic Center in January when the $34 million renovation was complete, if this fight drags on, the Pirates may be finding permanent residency for the 2013-14 season in the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

The comments by Petrovek — which one could have assumed were coming — lend more to the possibility that the Pirates could be on the move after this season. Without an affiliation agreement, and with the distraction of this arena battle, would anyone be willing to run with their farm in Portland?

With Glens Falls making it abundantly clear they’re looking for a team to fill the place of the Adirondack Phantoms when they move to Allentown, it could be a possible landing place for the Pirates should they move.

One thing remains a certainty, however; the fans in Portland want to see their team play, and they hope this gets sorted out sooner rather than later.

Divide between Pirates, CCCC grows larger

Chris Roy over at the Sun Journal has all your information on the current battle brewing between the Portland Pirates and the Cumberland County Civic Center. It seems as though this season for the Pirates won’t start without this extra bit of distraction.

Roy’s entire piece from Thursday can be read here: Pirates, CCCC headed for legal showdown

As Roy reports, the two sides continue to argue over what appears to be a spoken agreement on an extended lease that would keep the CCCC as the home of the Pirates for another five seasons. However, the formal agreement was unsigned according to all reports on the matter.

The crux of the argument is the division of funds received on the sale of concessions. From Roy’s story:

In the April 17 “framework,” Civic Center trustees and the Pirates agreed to a 57½-to-42½ percent split of all food and beverage revenue — including alcohol, something the hockey team had long sought. However, while drafting the agreement, it was brought to their attention the plan to share alcohol revenue violated state law. According to the rule, the team is not allowed to profit from the sale of alcohol in the building because only the building owner is listed on the liquor license.

Without their home rink to play in, it could see the Pirates taking a prolonged stay at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, where the team has already decided to host a handful of their first home dates this coming season.

With how the partnerships between AHL teams and their host cities tend to go — there is a reason why we see a handful of teams move on a regular basis — this could reach a breaking point that could see the team leave Portland. If that happens, it would end the run of one of the longest tenured AHL runs.

This is purely speculation, but with a team no longer in Houston and the tension between these two sides, it would almost make sense that if the Pirates and the CCCC fail to come to terms the Pirates go to a market that has already proven it can support the AHL.

 

Coyotes add Rawlings, ink Hextall, Louis, McMillan

The Phoenix Coyotes have announced a two-year, two-way deal with defenceman Mark Louis, one-year, two-way deals with Brett Hextall and Brandon McMillan, and have inked goaltender Chris Rawlings to an AHL deal.

Louis, 26, signs a two-year extension just one season after the Coyotes gave him his first NHL deal. After playing his junior with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, Louis went undrafted, and subsequently landed in the CIS with St. Francis Xavier University. After his four years in Canadian college, Louis landed an AHL deal with Portland. Louis suited up for 23 games and posted four assists and 72 PIM with the Coyotes top affiliate, and was inked to a one-year deal.

Last season, Louis dressed for 61 regular season games, and put up 3 assists and 111 PIM. His two-year deal will likely see him in Portland for the next two seasons.

Hextall, 25, was a sixth-round pick of the Coyotes in 2008, and came to Portland in 2011-12 after three seasons in at the University of North Dakota. At UND, Hextall was part of back-to-back WCHA Championship teams (2009-10, 2010-11), and tallied 39 goals and 42 assists in 115 games.

The son of Philadelphia Flyers assistant GM Ron Hextall, Brett has spent two years with the Pirates, appearing in 141 games and registered 16 goals and 14 assists.

McMillan, a 23-year-old from Delta, BC., was a third round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2008, and first appeared with the Ducks in 2010-11. That season, McMillan suited up in 66 games with the Ducks in his rookie season and scored 12 goals and added 11 assists. However, since his rookie year, McMillan has only appeared in 31 NHL games and spent the majority of his time in the AHL.

Acquired from the Ducks in exchange for Matthew Lombardi, McMillan suited up for five games with the Pirates last season but failed to register a point.

Rawlings, a 24-year-old netminder, spent the previous four seasons with Northeastern University of the NCAA. In his final season with Northeastern, Rawlings posted a 3.22 GAA and .903 SV% in 26 appearances.

At the end of last season, Rawlings spent two games with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads and posted a .60 GAA and .975 SV%.

(Cover image by Bridget Samuels)

Portland keeps Brodeur, pass on Feser

The Phoenix Coyotes have come to terms with Mathieu Brodeur on a one-year deal, and have lost Justin Feser to the CIS.

Brodeur, 23, was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the third round of the 2008 draft, and has since spent nearly his entire professional career with the AHL’s Portland Pirates. In his 117 career AHL games — Brodeur has never suited up in the NHL — Brodeur has posted five goals and 21 assists.

At 6’5″ and 192 lbs., Brodeur has a big frame and uses it well to defend. In the QMJHL, where Brodeur spent three seasons with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Brodeur posted nine goals and 46 assists in 222 games.

Feser, 20, spent last season captaining the Tri-City Americans, posting 106 points (44-62) in 72 games. After signing an ATO with the Pirates after the Americans season came to an end, Feser appeared in six games and added two assists, but didn’t get a deal with the Pirates and is moving on to pursue a career in Canadian university where he’ll suit up with St. Francis Xavier University.

(Cover image by Bridget Samuels.)

Miele back with Coyotes for 2013-14

Andy Miele, the 2010-11 Hobey Baker Award winner, has signed an extension with the Coyotes that will keep him in the organization for at least one more year.

A former CCHA champion, first team all-star, and player of the year, Miele has been primarily suited up for the Coyotes top affiliate in Portland. The team’s alternate captain last season, the 25-year-old center has played 142 games with the club, scoring 36 goals and adding 74 assists over that span.

While only 5’8″, the small centerman benefits from being an outstanding playmaker and, though he hasn’t been able to translate that to a long stay in the NHL yet, Miele is being given time to develop and could make his way to the NHL if given another year or two.

By signing in Phoenix, the Pirates will get their 2011-12 team MVP back in the lineup. Voted the most popular player in 2012-13, Miele is a fan favourite in Portland, and his consistent offense is important in Portland.

Blues add Mancari to free agent signings

It’s going to be tough to argue that any AHL team had a better free agent day than the Chicago Wolves.

In one day, the Blues have helped out their farm club by adding Alex Bolduc, Keith Aucoin, and, now, Mark Mancari.

While Bolduc and Aucoin have a serious chance to at least split time with the Blues, but Mancari, who has been a career AHLer, will help out in the minors.

Mancari, a seventh-round pick by the Sabres in 2004, signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Blues earlier today. The 27-year-old London, Ont. native — who has only suited up for NHL action 42 times in seven seasons — is an immediate impact player for the Wolves. Mancari, who towers at 6’4″ and 227 pounds, has the frame to be a dominant power forward. He’s never put the pieces together to make it full-time in the big leagues, but he’s been a stud in the AHL.

In 563 career AHL games, Mancari has tallied 203 goals and added 276 assists, making him a nearly point per game in his AHL career. Where Mancari really shines, however, is in the playoffs, where he has put up 9 goals and 23 assists in 32 games.

Mancari spent last season as an alternate captain with the Rochester Americans, racking up 22 goals and 39 assists. His career high 73 points came in 2009-10, when he potted 23 goals and 45 assists as a member of the Portland Pirates during their affiliation with the Buffalo Sabres.