February 17, 2014

AHL Journal: Big night for local all-stars

By Mike Miccoli

Locals Joe Whitney (left, Reading, Mass.) and Brian Gibbons (Braintree, Mass.) each had a pair of assists in the AHL All Stars' win over Farjestad BK last week. (Getty Images)

Wednesday night’s AHL All-Star Game proved to be fruitful for those with ties to New England.

The AHL All-Stars defeated Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League, 7-2, in the new format in St. John’s. While Brandon Pirri of the Rockford IceHogs was named MVP, there were plenty of familiar names and faces who contributed to the the AHL’s win.

Native New Englanders Joe Whitney (Reading, Mass.) of the Albany Devils and Brian Gibbons (Braintree, Mass.) of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins recorded two assists apiece in the win.

The only representative from the seven New England AHL teams that scored was Ryan Strome of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Strome scored two goals, with Gibbons assisting on both. Strome is also no stranger to the NHL, spending 15 games with the New York Islanders and recording four points.

Though he was held off of the scoresheet, Frederic St. Denis of the Springfield Falcons finished the game with a +3 rating. St. Denis was one of two associate captains, playing in his second AHL All-Star Game. While St. Denis has yet to be called up to play with the Columbus Blue Jackets in his first season with Springfield, he spent time with the Montreal Canadiens during the 2011-12 season, playing in 17 games and recording a goal and two assists.

Power Rankings

  1. Manchester Monarchs (34-14-2-5): It’s easy to get caught up in how good the Monarchs are, especially with the talent currently on the roster with the NHL on Olympic break. Notably though, the performances from Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey have been quite impressive. Toffoli had a hat trick in Friday’s win over the Sharks and later added another two goals and two assists for a total of seven points in three games. Vey was just as good, matching Toffoli’s seven points with a stat line of one goal and six assists in the Monarchs’ three wins. (Last week: 3-0, #2)
  2. Providence Bruins (28-18-1-6): It wasn’t the prettiest of wins for Providence, but the 3-2 shootout victory against the Wolfpack on Sunday extended the Bruins’ winning streak to four games, with points in their last six. After Providence fired 45 shots on the Wolfpack on Sunday, Seth Griffith and Anthony Camara stepped up to put away Hartford in the shootout. It came at the right time since the Bruins were missing a barrage of regulars with Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, and Nick Johnson all out of the lineup. (Last week: 2-0, #3)
  3. Springfield Falcons (32-15-1-4): The one bright spot in an otherwise forgettable week for the Falcons came in their sole win this weekend, a 4-1 victory over the Sharks where Michael Chaput recorded his first career hat trick. Still, it’s hard to overlook back-to-back, 5-2 losses against much-weaker teams in the Wolfpack and Sound Tigers. (Last week: 1-2, #1)
  4. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (22-24-1-4): That’s a three-game winning streak for the Sound Tigers, who have also won eight of their last 10 games. Maybe the presence of Ryan Strome is helping, but the 12 goals Bridgeport scored this week were spread pretty evenly throughout the roster. In fact, defenseman Matt Donovan may have been the biggest contributor, scoring two goals and two assists. (Last week: 2-0, #5)
  5. Portland Pirates (19-21-2-7): Back-to-back wins against the Adirondack Phantoms were exactly what the slumping Pirates needed to rebound from their slump. Really, it was their goaltenders who stole the show. Mark Visentin made 53 saves in Friday’s 3-2 shootout win and shared the shutout with Louis Domingue in Sunday’s 2-0 win. Dominque made 28 saves and recorded 27 penalty minutes after a huge line brawl broke out between the two teams. Easy to say that the Pirates have some life back in them. (Last week: 2-0, #7)
  6. Worcester Sharks (23-22-3-1): The Sharks were the only New England AHL team without a win this week. What’s worse is that their offensive production dried up almost entirely. In three games, the Sharks scored only two goals while allowing 17. For a team that had done a good job getting themselves back into the playoff picture, it’s the last thing they’d want to happen. (Last week: 0-3, #4)
  7. Hartford Wolfpack (19-25-0-6): A big win over the Falcons was a good start to the week for the Wolfpack, who followed up with back-to-back losses against the Monarchs and in a shootout versus the Bruins. Carrying over momentum from game-to-game has been a recurring problem for Hartford all season. The Wolfpack’s Jekyll and Hyde act continues. (Last week: 1-1-0-1, #6)

Games of the Week:

Friday, February 21:

Bridgeport Sound Tigers @ Hartford Wolfpack (7 p.m.)

Springfield Falcons @ Manchester Monarchs (7 p.m.)

Saturday, February 22:

St. John’s IceCaps @ Worcester Sharks (7 p.m.)

Providence Bruins @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (7:05 p.m.)

Sunday, February 23:

Norfolk Admirals @ Springfield Falcons (3 p.m.)

Twitter: @MikeMiccoli
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