With all the hubbub surrounding the "big game" in Montreal yesterday, it appears that all the major news networks and bloggers forgot about that league where the next stars are being developed. The AHL celebrated their All-Star Game in Worcester, Massachusetts tonight, and it was a helluva show. 7245 fans went home happy as they watched the 2009 AHL All-Stars set several records tonight. After a fairly successful Skills Competition yesterday, the All-Star Game itself showed that the AHL has a bright future, and that the NHL has a number of stars waiting in the wings.
First off, the kid from Huntsville, Alabama on the Philadelphia Phantoms can play. Jared Ross is the first AHL player from Alabama to appear in the All-Star Game, and he made it count. One goal and six assists later, and the PlanetUSA forward takes home the AHL All-Star Game MVP honours. His six assists and seven points are AHL All-Star Game records.
"I was just happy to be here," said Ross,the AHL's only player from that state. "I wasn't even thinking about the outcome of the game. I was just glad to be around these guys. It was a lot of fun to play with them."
NHL Hall of Famer Ray Bourque was part of the crowd as he watched his son, Chris Bourque, break the 11-11 tie in the third period with his goal at the 15:06 mark. Bourque finished the game with a goal and an assist, and Dad was proud from the look on his face. Nothing like a game-winning goal to make Dad smile.
Unlike the NHL All-Star Game, the players actually looked like they wanted to be there in the first period. And, believe it or not, they played defence and gave an effort! Hard to believe, the kids put on a show! As much as I joke about the intensity, the back-and-forth action was appreciated by the fans, and it really turned out to be an entertaining game.
Before I break into the boxscore, here are a few statistics that might have gone unnoticed:
- Canadian and Milwaukee Admiral All-Star Mike Santorelli finished the game a woeful -7 in the plus/minus department. Had this been real game, I'm quite certain someone would have been skating extra man-makers at the next practice for his defensive display. Of course, I kid. Santorelli didn't pick up a point, but he did record two shots.
- Canadian and Houston Aero All-Star Corey Locke scored four goals for Team Canada on the night, setting an AHL All-Star record. Locke ended a +6, tying with three other players in the game.
- No penalties were recorded in the game despite the intensity shown by the players.
- PlanetUSA and Albany River Rat All-Star Michael Ryan lead the way in the shot department with nine shots on net. Ryan scored twice, giving him a shooting percentage of 22.2% in the game.
- Two empty-net goals were scored by PlanetUSA. Ryan Potulny of the Springfield Falcons and Martins Karsums of the Providence Bruins notched the empty-netters.
- Locke's four goals have him and Teddy Purcell tied for career AHL All-Star Game points. Purcell picked up five assists tonight, giving both players eight points total at AHL All-Star Games.
- PlanetUSA captain Rory Fitzpatrick was an unimpressive -3 with no shots. Maybe he didn't deserve to be at the NHL All-Star Game.
A great AHL All-Star Game to watch, and I look forward to next year's game. No decision has been made as to which team will host the game, but, after this season's event, keeping this tradition going should be elementary.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!