Western Conference rocked the Eastern Conference 7-6
All North American hockey fans shook their heads in disgust when the NHL canceled their All-Star game. However, hockey fans rejoiced January 28th when the AHL All-Stars took the ice and put on a mind-blowing performance.
A whopping 13 goals were scored during the All-Star game. For many of the All-Stars, this was their first appearance. Nino Niederreiter who represented the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the Eastern Conference (EC) said, “Last night the skills competition was so much fun. It’s great to be a part of it. A great experience.” In addition, Niderreiter was voted to start the game at left wing.
Like Nino Niederriter this was Tyler Johnson’s first All-Star appearance for the Eastern Conference. The Syracuse center declared, “It’s been a lot of fun. I didn’t know quite what to expect. The guys have been great and I’m looking forward to the game.” Over on the Western side of things, it was Michal Jordan’s first All-Star appearance. The defenseman shared his thoughts, “I’ve never been involved with an event like that and it’s pretty cool. A lot of good players play in this league. I’m trying to get the most out of it.”
During the opening stanza five goals were scored by Jason Zucker, Matt Fraser, Brad Hunt, and Derek Shore whom all got the better of EC netminder Niklas Svedberg. Western Conference (WC) goalie Justin Peters only allowed one goal which was scored by Chad Kolarik. The Western Conference outshot the Eastern squad 16 to 13.
The second period was owned by the East. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Bracken Kearns, and Chad Kolarik beat WC goalie Barry Brust. EC goalie Curtis McElhinney let in a Ryan Hamilton goal. As the middle stanza ended the West had the advantage by one goal with a score of 5-4. Both teams shot 16 times on net during the period.
It was a dogfight all the way to the final horn. Ryan Hamilton scored twice securing his hat trick for the West bringing the score to 6 as Tyler Toffoli and Trent Whitfield tickled the twine for the East. As the horn blew to signal the end of the 2013 All-Star game there were 84 shots between the two teams and there was only one minor penalty called and that was on Mark Cundari of the Western Conference. The final score was 7 to 6 Western.
The coaches couldn’t have been more pleased with their player’s efforts. Dallas Eakins assumed the position as head coach for the West. Jeff Daniels backed Eakins up on the bench. On the Eastern side, Luke Richardson was head bench boss and had 2012 AHL Coach of the Year Jon Cooper by his side.
The Syracuse Crunch was very well represented in the Eastern locker room having four skaters plus a coach in the competition. Syracuse defenseman Mark Barberio stated,” We are pretty well represented which speaks volumes of the team we have this year. We are really humbled that we went, but I think there are a few other guys on our team that could have made it on.” Barbs as he is known to his teammates noted that the equipment manager and trainer from Syracuse also made it on to the roster. So four players, one coach, and two team members who serve off the ice were selected. That’s a total of seven members who call Syracuse home during the hockey season.
Like every other AHL All-Star weekend, hockey fans saw the future of their favorite NHL club. One of the many prospects to watch will be AHL All-Star MVP Ryan Hamilton. Hamilton secured his MVP status when he completed his hat trick with seconds remaining in the game. Many of the players who competed in last year’s All-Star event are now playing in the National League. Just to give you a hint as to how pivotal the AHL is to a player’s success and how it benefits a prospect, look at 2012 AHL Rookie of the Year Cory Conacher. The 23-year-old is leading all rookies in assists and has 7 points in 5 games. Anyone who plays fantasy hockey needs to add Conacher to their roster right away. That is, if he is still left.
Ted grew up in Virginia. Warren has a passion for the AHL and dishes out articles about the Norfolk Admirals and the AHL. Follow him on Twitter @bauerhockeydude