AHL All-Star Weekend Review

AHL All-Star Weekend Review

Ben Grieco, Staff Writer

Day 1 – AHL All-Star Skills Competition


The American Hockey League All-Star Classic that happened on January 31, and February 1 was an exciting event for any hockey fan. With trick shots, fast shots, accurate shots, and an excellent Round Robin tournament on day two, what more could any fan want?


Day one included the skills competition. Comparable to the NHL Skills competition, the events brought just as many laughs. The seven events included: a puck control relay, a speed skating event, a rapid fire shooting event, a hardest slap shot event, accurate shooting, passing and scoring, and a breakaway relay.


During event one, the Puck Control Relay, the Eastern Conference jumped out to a 3-2 lead over the Western Conference (each relay won was a point). The first relay was won by the Eastern Conference. The team consisted of: Seth Griffith (Providence Bruins), Nick Cousins (Lehigh Valley Phantoms), and Will O’Neill (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins). The second relay also was won by the East, with: Mike Sislo (Albany Devils), William Nylander (Toronto Marlies), and Alan Quine (Bridgeport Tigers). After the two races, the youth stars took the ice for this event. The winners included: Jimmy Rayhill (New Hartford), and Johnny Beecher (Elmira). The two young skaters won the race for the Western Conference. After these three, they went to two, one person races. The first one was one by Alexander Khokhlachev (Providence Bruins/East). To end the event, the Western Conference came in strong with Brad Hunt (Bakersfield Condors) winning the final race.


The next event was the fastest skater competition. This is where 10 skaters went around the rink for the fastest time. While no one touched Dan Larkin’s time during the NHL Skills Competition, times were still fairly fast. The slowest skater, other than the youth skaters, was Cal O’Reilly (Rochester Americans) with a final time of 15.495. Coming in the polar opposite of O’Reilly, was the fastest time of the night from Derek Grant (Stockton Heat), with a final time of the 14.307 – a little bit off of Larkin’s record-breaking time of 13.172. Once again, the youth skaters came onto the ice with decently fast times. Beecher came in with a 15.863, Luke Tuch (Baldwinsville) a 16.810, Rayhill barely broke 16 with a 15.976; finally Ryan Kirwan (Dewitt), skated the the last one of 16.336.


Then, the goalies got a chance to shine in the Live Rapid Fire event. Each goaltender received ten shots from close range, and had to stop as many as they could. The best goaltender in the event was easily decided by a 9-for-10 attempt, from Eric Comrie (Manitoba Moose). Every other goalie came in with about a 6-for- or 7-for-10 save attempt. However, Lehigh Valley’s goalie, Anthony Stolarz came in sluggish with a 4-for-10 attempt – most shots hitting the post and going into the net. Hometown star, Kristers Gudlevskis (Syracuse Crunch) went in the middle of the pack, going 7-for-10 in the event.


Next, came one of the most anticipated events – the Hardest Shot event. After watching Shea Weber’s 108 mile-per-hour shot in the NHL All-Star Classic, fans wanted to see something similar in Syracuse. The slowest shot(s) of the night came from Xavier Ouellet (Grand Rapids Griffins) with a 92.8 and 93.5 mph shots. The third hardest shot in the All-Star Record Books came out from Ryan Graves (Hartford Wolf Pack) with a final speed of 103.4 mph. They gave him another attempt to break the top score, but he wasn’t able to for his third shot.


The fifth event was the Accuracy Shooting. Players had to hit the four targets in the corners of the net, in as few shots as possible – trying to go 4-for-4. Some of the All-Stars tried to mimic the accurate shooting of John Tavares (who went 4-for-5 in the NHL Skills Competition). Only Pat Cannone (Chicago Wolves) and Matt Taormina (Syracuse Crunch) were able to do such a feat. Barclay Goodrow (San Jose Barracudas) and Ryan Hartman (Rockford Ice Hogs) were unable to get all four shots, going 2-for-5 and 3-for-8, respectively. The youth stars again came out during this event. Beecher went 2-for-5, Tuch went 2-for-6, Rayhill was the first to complete all four going 4-for-8; Kirwan showed up his teammates however, going 4-for-5 – proving he was pretty accurate.


Nearing the end, event six was the Pass and Score event. Three players would go against the goalie, and all three players had to touch the puck before they scored. They had three pucks, and thirty seconds to shoot all three – slapshots and rebounds were not allowed. While goaltender names weren’t recorded, the Eastern Conference took the win for the event. Two of the Eastern goalies went 3-for-3, while the other two went 2-for-3.


The final event, event seven, was the Breakaway Relay. Goalies faced six players, on what was considered a “shootout” shot. All players had one shot, and teams had 30 seconds to get all players through the relay. The first goalie was Mike McKenna (Portland Pirates), who went 4-for-6. The best goalie in the event was Laurent Brossoit (Bakersfield Condors), who went 100%, going 6-for-6. Comrie was the second best, going 5-for-6. Unfortunately, the worst goalie was Yann Danis (Albany Devils) going 2-for-6 in the event.


After the events, was the awards ceremony. Grant received his award for the fastest skater. Graves then received his award for the hardest shot. Comrie was then awarded the Top Goaltender award for the night, remaining consistent throughout the night. Cannone won the award for most accurate shooter. Western team Captain Jeff Hoggan (Grand Rapids Griffins) took the award, on behalf of his team, for winning the All-Star Competition, with a final score of 19-14.


Day 2 – The Round Robin Tournament (3-on-3, 4-on-4)


The second day of the tournament included a Round Robin tournament between the four divisions. The games were nine minutes long, and each half lasted 4:30. One half was 4-on-4, and the second half was 3-on-3. Goalies each played one half. The two teams with the best record would go on to play in the championship game.


The first game was one of the most intense games. This game was between the North Division and the Pacific Division. The first half remained silent, after the 4-on-4, with a lot of shots, but a lot of saves as well. The 3-on-3 came around, and Josh Keivo (Toronto Marlies) scored the only goal in the game, making the final score 1-0. The standings were now: North, 2 Points; Atlantic, 0 Points; Pacific, 0 Points; Central, 0 Points.


The second game went on for much longer. Between the Atlantic and the Central Divisions, the 4-on-4 also remained silent for the half. However, the 3-on-3 was the scoring half. Chris Bourque (Hershey Bears) scored for the Atlantic, and Cannone scored for the Central. In the shootout, Cannone scored his second of the game, for the Central to win, 2-1. STANDINGS: North, 2 P; Atlantic, 0 P;  Pacific, 0 P; Central, 2 P.


Game Three of seven consisted the North and the Central. This was one of the higher scoring games. Cannone and Jake Dowell (Rockford Ice Hogs) scored to complete the 4-on-4 half with a score of 2-0, Central. In the 3-on-3, Leivo and Michael McCarron (St John’s Ice Caps) scored closely together, but Dowell and Hartman answered their calls to complete the game at 4-2, Central. STANDINGS: North, 2 P’ Atlantic, 2 P; Pacific, 0 P; Central, 4 P.


The second half of the games started off with the Atlantic and Pacific divisions. Griffith and Quine both scored during the 4-on-4 to end the half 2-0. the Pacific attempted to answer the call, with Sean Backman (Ontario Reign) scoring one goal during the 3-on-3, but it wasn’t enough, as the final score was 2-1, Atlantic. STANDINGS: North 2 P; Atlantic, 2 P; Pacific, 0 P; Central, 4 P.


The second to last game, Game Five, consisted of the Central and Pacific divisions. This was the highest scoring game. Pacific took an early lead during the 4-on-4, with Grant scoring one goal, Nick Ritchie scoring one, and Mikko Rantanen (San Antonio Rampage) scoring. Ouellet scored the lone goal for the Central, to complete the score at 3-1, Pacific. The second half was much more interesting, with Hoggan, Andre Benoit (Chicago Wolves), and Dowell all scoring in the game. Grant, Ritchie, and Brandon Montour (San Diego Gulls), all scored to finish the score at 6-4, Pacific.STANDINGS: North, 2 P; Atlantic, 2 P; Pacific, 2 P; Central, 4 P.


It was then the final game! Game six, featuring the Atlantic and Northern Conference. The Atlantic jumped out to an early 1-0 lead during the 4-on-4. The goal was scored by Rob Shremp (Portland Pirates). The second half of the game, Atlantic soared over the North, winning the game 4-1, and going to the championship game. Bourque and Quine both scored, while Shremp scored his second. Sislo was the only goal scorer for the North. STANDINGS: North, 2 P; Atlantic, 4 P; Pacifc, 2 P; Central, 4 P.


Then it finally happened – the championship game! The game was nine minutes of 3-on-3. The game was between the Central and the Atlantic.The game was an utter blowout for the Central Division, winning 4-0. Hoggan, Derek Ryan (Charlotte Checkers), Cannone and Ouellet all scored. After the game, the Central Division claimed the title of the 2016 All-Star Champions, and Cannone was named the Most Valuable Player for the tournament.


The weekend in Syracuse was a great one; it was an even greater one as a Syracuse Crunch fan! As a hockey fan, you saw the best-of-the-best AHL Players in the entire league, all in one rink.