Hockey Headlines

Monday, 8 December 2008

AHL Chatter

Meet Josh Tordjman. Josh is an undrafted goaltender playing for the AHL's San Antonio Rampage. Josh is currently the starting goaltender for the AHL team with the worst record. However, Tordjman is this week's Reebok/AHL Player of the Week after stonewalling the Western Division's best team in the Manitoba Moose. On Thursday, December 4, Tordjman shutout the Syracuse Crunch by stopping all 27 shots in a 3-0 victory. He followed that up with a Friday win over the Moose by a 4-3 score before shutting the Moose out on Sunday by a 1-0 score. Not a bad week at all for the 23 year-old.

However, his team seems to have turned a corner in this last week. Perhaps the trade to bring in Joakim Lindstrom woke a few players up because they absolutely dominated the Moose on Sunday afternoon, outshooting the Moose 25-9 through the first and second periods.

"We did nothing well," Moose defenceman Nolan Baumgartner told Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press. "We played in the third, but so what? Yeah, you can say they played well and give them some credit, but we were awful... We're one of the best teams in the league and what have they done so far?

"That's two bad games in a row. We've all seen it creeping in. We'd better fix it this week in practice."

The Rampage added Joel Perreault and from the Coyotes this week, and Sean Zimmerman from the CHL as well, and those players make the Rampage better on the ice. Couple that with some key call-ups to the Vancouver Canucks, and the Moose needed to start with a better effort.

The Moose are now 17-6-0-0 and lead the Western Conference, but losing two to the worst team in the AHL has to sting. With the two wins, the Rampage move out of the basement, but just by a point. They are 5-20-0-1, one point better than the 4-18-0-2 Rochester Americans, but the Amerks have two games in hand.

The Hershey Bears continue to tear up the schedule, winning 11 in a row. Their 41 points leads the AHL, and have posted a 20-5-0-1 thus far. The have the top point-producer in Keith Aucoin (36 points), the top goal-scorer in Alexandre Giroux (18 goals), and the top rookie goal-scorer in Oskar Osala (16 goals). Hershey makes its first regular season visit to the state of Texas this week with games against Houston and San Antonio.

Hershey's win this past week over the Hartford Wolf Pack marked the end of a long drought at home. Saturday night, Hershey defeated the 'Pack by a 4-2 score, their first home-ice victory over the Wolf Pack since November 21, 1998 - over a decade ago!

Darryl Boyce of the Toronto Marlies converted an overtime penalty shot this past week to give the Marlies a 6-5 overtime win over the Hamilton Bulldogs. Ironically, the last player to accomplish this feat was the Bulldogs' Duncan Milroy when he did it against Manchester on April 1, 2006.

The AHL All-Star Ballot is now online, and you can vote on who you want to see as a starter for both the Canadian team and the PlanetUSA team. Some decent prizes are available in exchange for your vote, so head on over to the webpage and vote your favorite AHL stars into the game.

Springfield's Gilbert Brule was suspended for four games last week for a very questionable hit from behind on Lowell's Matt Corrente. However, Brule was recalled by the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, so his suspension will start when he returns to the AHL. As for when that may be, no one is certain.

"He was coming around the net and he turned just as I was about to lean into him," Brule explained to Derek Van Diest of Sun Media. "I got him with my shoulder right in the middle of his back. He didn't hit his head into the boards, which was good, but the ref threw me out of the game right away."

The Houston Aeros are 7-0-1-0 against the West Division teams, in which they play, but a brutal 3-10-0-2 against the rest of the AHL. Winning against divisional rivals is important when trying to secure a playoff spot, but you have to win against the rest of the league as well. Houston has a tough test in Hershey this week, so that record may get worse before the weekend.

November 29 was a bad day for the Philadelphia Phantoms. Philly lost their game 9-0 against Hershey, the first that the Phantoms have ever given up nine goals in franchise history. The last time Philadelphia gave up eight goals was to Syracuse in 1997, and the last time they lost a game by a six-goal margin was in 2006 against Manitoba. Unfortunately, those marks were blown away on that Saturday night.

So there are a few of the highlights from the AHL over the past week. Lots of solid hockey still to be played in the AHL, and it appears that there are a lot of great battles within divisions as teams jockey for playoff spots. Don't forget to vote on your AHL All-Stars!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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