As the American Hockey League readies for its 2017 All-Star Classic in Allentown, Pa., rosters for each of the four divisions have been selected. Each of the four squads will be composed of 12 players. All 30 teams will be represented, including the Albany Devils.
Like they did last season with Mike Sislo and Yann Danis, the Devils will again be represented by two players. Forwards Joseph Blandisi and John Quenneville will head to the home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in their red, black and white. The skills competition will take place on Jan. 29 and the game itself will happen on Jan. 30.
— Albany Devils (@AlbanyDevils) January 5, 2017
Though currently out with an injury, when on the ice the “Blender” has been a playmaker with Albany. In 24 contests, Blandisi has six goals and 14 assists for 20 points. The second-year forward ranks fourth on the squad with those 20 points. That’s three fewer points than the Devils forward registered in three more games last season as a rookie. “The Magic Bullett” also played 41 games last season with the New Jersey Devils, garnering 17 points.
— Albany Devils (@AlbanyDevils) December 6, 2016
The Devils rookie forward presently places first on the club with 27 points, notching 10 goals and 17 helpers. Quenneville has given the team a boost with the extra attacker, producing a team-leading five tallies, nine assists and 14 points. The Edmonton, AB native made his NHL debut this season, appearing in two games with New Jersey. “Kid Q” has been among top scoring rookies in the AHL all season.
Both are first-time All-Star selections and will represent the North Division.
One could also make the argument that Blake Pietila and his team-leading 13 markers and Blake Coleman with his 12 tallies also should’ve merited some serious consideration for making the squad.
Along with the aforementioned Sislo and Danis, Blandisi and Quenneville join Matt Anderson (2011), Matt Taormina (2012), Alexander Urbom (2012), Bobby Butler (2013) and Joe Whitney (2014 and 2015) as Devils’ All-Star selections since the team returned to Albany from Lowell in 2010.
Speaking of Taormina, the Syracuse Crunch defenseman will also be representing on the North Division roster. The Crunch blueliner has posted 30 points on the campaign.
Also of interest to Capital Region hockey fans, former A-Devils forward Matt Lorito and his 32 points with the Grand Rapids Griffins will be suiting up with the Central Division squad. Joining Lorito will be former Carolina Hurricanes affiliated, Albany River Rats goalie Michael Leighton and his 2.17 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.
On the Pacific Division team, former Union College goaltending product Troy Grosenick will be between the pipes. Thanks to five shutouts, a 2.06 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage, Grosenick will represent the San Jose Barracuda. The San Jose goalie was a teammate of former A-Devils backstop and current New Jersey backup Keith Kinkaid, in 2010-11 with the skating Dutchmen.
As mentioned above, there will be four teams representing each of the four divisions in the league. Those teams will participate in a round-robin tournament of 3-on-3 action, with six games lasting ten minutes apiece. The two best teams will square off for the title, under the same format.
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.