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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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: IceCaps, Bears extend streaks, Barberio making mark in Tampa

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:

  • Empty schedule tonight. Falcons fans can watch Tim Erixon, who has been recalled from the Springfield Falcons, and will suit up tonight for the Columbus Blue Jackets as they take on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Last Night:

  • ST. JOHN’S 3, PROVIDENCE 1: For the fourth game in a row, Michael Hutchinson got the call between the pipes. His third start in three nights, the 23-year-old Barrie, Ont. native stopped 34 shots, the only chink in his armour being a Matt Lindblad goal halfway through the first period. With the win, Hutchinson and the IceCaps extended their winning streak to four games, and will put the streak on the line on Friday when they take visit Lewiston to take on the Portland Pirates.
  • HERSHEY 2, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 0: The Bears, without head coach Mike Haviland, pushed their win streak to five. Before the game, Scott Stuccio tweeted that Haviland would be unavailable due to a medical issue, but we’ve yet to discover what exactly kept Haviland away from the team. Here’s hoping it’s nothing serious. As for the game, let’s turn it over to Chirps From Center Ice:
    The Penguins lose 2-0 to the Hershey Bears in a game which, if a power play goal here or there go in, then maybe the result is a little different. The Pens were 0-for-7 on the power play tonight, 0-for-15 for the weekend.”

Moves:

Alex Petrovic (D) From: Florida Panthers To: San Antonio Rampage
Tim Erixon (D) From: Springfield Falcons To: Columbus Blue Jackets

News & Notes:

  • A positive story from Haviland being unavailable: Bears defenceman Patrick Wellar, who was sidelined after taking a shot from Syracuse’s Eric Neilson during a fight on Saturday, was patrolling the bench as an assistant. [PennLive.com]
  • Former Crunch defenceman Mark Barberio is making his mark with the big club, and it’s turning some heads, including Jon Cooper, Tampa’s head coach, who wants the young defenceman in the lineup. [Syracuse.com]
  • Heat fans shouldn’t expect to see Michael Ferland back in the lineup. [FAN960]

 

Andrews: “Can’t lose franchises as solid as St. John’s”

It’s still not a done deal, and a Thunder Bay news outlet’s poll showed citizens who voted are against a new event centre, but should the Winnipeg Jets move their affiliate west, the American Hockey League will do whatever they need to keep a team in Newfoundland’s capital.

In an interview with TimesUnion.com sports reporter Pete Dougherty, AHL President Dave Andrews said the league would be looking for a solution should the IceCaps move on.

“That’s another one of those markets that there’s a tremendous amount of interest,” Andrews told Dougherty in the interview posted today.

“That Thunder Bay story is preliminary to say the least,” Andrews added. “There’s no biulding there, and the financing of the building is not yet in place. So the intent (of the Jets) is to move the team into a more approximate location like Thunder Bay.”

The potential move to Thunder Bay from St. John’s is a situation where the AHL and its teams are beholden to the desires of the clubs in the NHL, something Andrews briefly touched on in his talk with Dougherty.

“We certainly need to support the desire on part of the NHL clubs to have their AHL affiliates closer,” said Andrews.

However, he added that the AHL can’t afford to “lose franchises that are as solid as St. John’s”, speaking at length about the incredible fan support the team has had since the return of the AHL to the Rock.

Andrews also answered some questions about Glens Falls, where the city will be losing Adirondack Phantoms as they move on to Lehigh Valley.

“We definitely got one more year out of the Phantoms up there than we expected,” said Andrews, adding that the league and Glens Falls mayor Jack Diamond have a search for a new team well under way.

“We think there are perhaps a couple of options,” Andrews told Dougherty. “I would give it some reasonable prospect of success.” Andrews added that it’s “not out of the realm of possibilty” that there will be a team in Glens Falls as soon as next season.

The full interview is below.

Dave Andrews one-on-one with TimesUnion.com’s Pete Dougherty

AHL Today: Lake Erie looks to snap skid, Texas loses Nilstorp in W

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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On the schedule tonight:

Rochester heads into Lake Erie as both teams move in different directions. Lake Erie has dropped its last five, while Rochester has picked up a win in its last two outings. Lake Erie, only five points back of second spot in the division, needs a win to bring themselves two points closer to third place Rochester.

Notables:

  • Lake Erie: Mark Olver (9-19-28), Bryan Lerg (12-15-27), and Andrew Agozzino (9-17-26) are all clustered within two points of each other.
  • No goaltender has been confirmed for tonight, but Calvin Pickard and Sami Aittokallio have split time all season, and with Pickard between the pipes for Lake Erie’s last contest, look for Aittokallio to get the call.
  • Rochester: Top point getter Phil Varone (8-25-33) got the call to Buffalo yesterday, so he won’t be in the lineup tonight. Luke Adam (15-10-25), who is scoring at a more torrid pace with over a point per game, will have all eyes on him as Lake Erie looks to stop their slide.
  • Nathan Lieuwen has had the net for three of the last four, so expect Hackett to get the call tonight.

Oklahoma City and Charlotte meet up tonight in Carolina, both with two game win streaks on the line. Oklahoma stands to slide up the standings in pursuit of the final playoff spot. The win would put them two points out of the final spot in the Western Conference.

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Evening round-up:

     – Colton Sceviour had his bobble head night last night in Cedar Park. The resemblance? Suffice to say Sceviour wasn’t thrilled.

     – Threw together a Storify of the action on Twitter during the hubbub over the possibility of the St. John’s IceCaps and Winnipeg Jets affiliation agreement possibly ending with a new AHL team landing in Thunder Bay. Click the image below.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 9.01.30 AM

Zach O’Brien going to camp with St. John’s

Though he suited up in one game with the IceCaps last season, St. John’s native Zach O’Brien will be looking to become a familiar face in his hometown team’s lineup.

O’Brien, who spent last season with the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan, has been invited back to training camp with the IceCaps and is hoping to make an impression.

While O’Brien’s offensive skill is what makes him an intriguing prospect, the 21-year-old forward understands he has to round out his game in order to make his mark in the professional ranks. From the St. John’s Telegram:

My game is to bring some offensive skill, but I’m also willing to work hard and become more of a complete player because I know that’s what they want me to do. . . If I want to stick (at the AHL level), I know I have to prove I can play in the defensive end as well.

In 207 games in the QMJHL, O’Brien has tallied 132 goals and 145 assists, good for 277 points and 1.32 points per game.

At 21, O’Brien still has a ton of room to grow, and while he may not be able to stick in the AHL his offensive skill is hard to deny and you’d be hard pressed to find a team that couldn’t use that kind of production if he can carry it over to the AHL.

O’Dell signs on for another year with Jets

Eric O’Dell has turned a career year into a contract extension with the Winnipeg Jets.

O’Dell, 23, was drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft by the Anaheim Ducks, but he was never able to land a contract with the club. After stellar years with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, O’Dell inked an amateur tryout with the Chicago Wolves, and turned that into a three-year entry-level contract with the Atlanta Thrashers.

The year after inking his deal, the Thrashers were on their way to Winnipeg, and O’Dell shipped out to St. John’s.

In his past two seasons with the IceCaps, the 6-foot centre has suited up in 101 games, tallying 41 goals and 36 assists. It was last season, however, when O’Dell showed the offensive flair that made him a second round pick. In 59 games with the IceCaps last season, O’Dell potted 29 goals and added 26 helpers — both career highs — making him almost a point-per-game player.

O’Dell’s deal with the Jets is for one-year and is a two-way deal.

Negrin signs with Comets

The Utica Comets have announced they’ve come to terms with defenceman John Negrin on a one-year AHL deal.

Negrin, 24, was a third round draft pick of the Calgary Flames in 2007, and appeared in three games with the Flames in 2008-09. Following a four year stint in the WHL with both the Kootenay Ice and Swift Current Broncos — Negrin posted 16 goals, 111 assists, and 252 PIM in 265 games in the ‘Dub — Negrin spent the majority of the next three seasons with the Flames top affiliate in Abbotsford.

While a member of the Heat, Negrin appeared in 95 games, scored five goals, and added 17 assists, but was traded near the end of his third season to the Winnipeg Jets. Negrin would suit up for the remainder of the 2011-12 season with the IceCaps, and registered three assists in 14 games.

When his NHL entry-level deal ran out, Negrin was inked to an AHL deal with the Chicago Wolves, but struggled to stay with the club and spent 44 games in the ECHL with Kalamazoo in 2012-13. However, after a trade sent him to Lake Erie, Negrin played the remainder of the season as a member of the Monsters.

His AHL deal with the Comets is for one season, as Negrin will look to get back to being an everyday AHL player.

Jets sign Hutchinson, Redmond, Pasquale

The Winnipeg Jets have locked up a goaltending duo for St. John’s, and came to terms with defenceman Zach Redmond.

In St. John’s the tandem in net will be Eddie Pasquale and Michael Hutchinson, both inked to one-year deals with Winnipeg.

Redmond, 24, spent the 38 games before the lockout ended in St. John’s, but made his way to the NHL when the PA and league came to terms on a new CBA. Shortly after getting the call, however, Redmond suffered a gruesome leg injury when he was clipped with a skate. The injury, which caused the defenceman to lose a dangerous amount of blood, sidelined Redmond for nearly the rest of the season. Miraculously, Redmond came back before the season ended, and will now be back with the Jets on a two-way deal in 2013-14.

Pasquale, 22, was a fourth round pick of the Jets/Thrashers organization in 2009, and has since spent his entire professional career between the ECHL and AHL. Last season, while with St. John’s, Pasquale suited up for 43 contests and posted a 2.79 GAA and .907 SV%. A member of the 2011-12 AHL All-Rookie Team, Pasquale is entering his fourth pro season.

Hutchinson, a 23-year-old from Barrie, Ont., was a third round draft pick of the Boston Bruins in 2008. After failing to come to terms on a new contract with the Bruins, Hutchinson has hopped on with the Jets, but will suit up with the IceCaps next season. In 29 games with the Providence Bruins last year, largely in a backup role, Hutchinson posted a 2.30 GAA and .914 SV%. Like Pasquale, Hutchinson is entering his fourth season in the pros.