Monday, November 18, 2002

Junior, college stars keep shining in AHL

 SPRINGFIELD, MA ... The American Hockey League continues to feature some of the brightest young talent in hockey, as evidenced by the number of former Canadian junior and U.S. collegiate stars currently competing in the AHL.

 There have been 37 players in the AHL this season with a Memorial Cup title on their resumes, including Hamilton's Jarret Stoll and Hershey's Marek Svatos, teammates on the 2002 Kootenay championship team that was coached by current Hartford bench boss Ryan McGill. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Colby Armstrong, Ross Lupaschuk and Sebastien Caron are among six members of the Penguins with Canadian Hockey League championships, and Milwaukee teammates Chris Madden (1998) and Cameron Mann (1996), along with Grand Rapids' Danny Groulx (2002) and Houston's Kyle Wanvig (2001), were recipients of the Stafford Smythe Trophy, awarded yearly to the tournament's MVP.
Binghamton's Josh Langfeld (Michigan) and Rochester's Ryan Miller (Michigan State) were rivals in college before reaching the AHL.
 The AHL also boasts five former CHL Players of the Year in Chicago's Simon Gamache (2001), Rochester's Brian Campbell (1999), Worcester's Sergei Varlamov (1998), Syracuse's David Ling (1995) and Chicago's Rob Brown (1987), while five former CHL Goaltenders of the Year have appeared in the AHL this season: Binghamton's Ray Emery (2002), Providence's Andrew Raycroft (2000), Worcester's Cody Rudkowsky (1999), Hamilton's Mathieu Garon (1998) and Utah's Corey Hirsch (1992). Seven recipients of the CHL Defensemen of the Year award have suited up in the AHL in 2002-03, including Milwaukee's Dan Hamhuis (2002), Hamilton's Marc-Andre Bergeron (2001) and Saint John's Micki DuPont (2000).

 In the U.S., a total of 44 players in the AHL this season have won a Division I NCAA title, including Worcester's John Pohl and Springfield's Jeff Taffe, teammates on the 2002 national champion Minnesota Golden Gophers. Six members of the 2001 title team from Boston College have skated in the AHL this season (including Albany goaltender Scott Clemmensen), as have nine players from the 2000 champions from North Dakota. AHL head coaches Don Granato (Wisconsin, 1990) and Danton Cole (Michigan State, 1986) also won NCAA titles during their playing careers.

 Recipients of the Most Outstanding Player award in an NCAA tournament include North Dakota alumni Lee Goren (Providence) in 2000 and Matt Henderson (Norfolk) in 1997, former Boston University defenseman Chris O'Sullivan (Cincinnati) in 1995, Jim Montgomery (Utah) for Maine in 1993 and Hartford's Ted Donato with Harvard in 1989.

 Twenty-five finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, handed out annually to the outstanding player in U.S. collegiate hockey, have appeared on AHL rosters in 2002-03, including 2001 recipient Ryan Miller of Rochester (Michigan State), 2000 award winner Mike Mottau of Hartford (Boston College) and 1999 winner Jason Krog of Cincinnati (New Hampshire).

 Six of last year's Hobey finalists have skated in the AHL this season, including Milwaukee's Darren Haydar, Grand Rapids' Rob Collins, Cleveland's Jim Fahey, Chicago's Mark Hartigan and Houston's Marc Cavosie. Members of AHL coaching and management staffs who were also finalists for the Hobey Baker Award include former Providence College teammates Chris Terreri (1986), Tim Army (1985) and Gates Orlando (1984), and Manchester Monarchs director of hockey operations Hubie McDonough at St. Anselm (1985).

 LAMOTHE: RHYMES WITH HOT ... With six wins and three ties in his last nine decisions, Grand Rapids goaltender Marc Lamothe has keyed the Griffins' own 10-game unbeaten streak (8-0-2-0) and their surge to the top of the AHL's Central Division.

 Grand Rapids' goaltending tandem of Lamothe and rookie Joey MacDonald has allowed just 17 goals during the streak, and the Griffins have turned a slow start into a 9-3-3-0 overall record. Lamothe's play of late should come as no surprise, as he has put together a remarkable run of 11th-month success. In his last 15 starts during the month of November (dating back to the 2000-01 season), Lamothe is 13-0-2 with a 1.33 goals against average, a .950 save percentage and five shutouts.

 A native of New Liskeard, Ont., Lamothe led the Hamilton Bulldogs to within one game of the Calder Cup Finals in 2002 before signing as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings in the offseason. This year with the Griffins, he is 6-1-3 with a 2.14 GAA (third in the AHL) and a .920 save percentage.

 OFF THE ICE ... The AHL and Rogers Sportsnet have announced a multi-year partnership that begins this season with Sportsnet televising 10 regular-season games, the 2003 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic and the league's new magazine program, Inside the AHL... Bridgeport Sound Tigers marketing coordinator Kate Girotti will appear on tonight's episode of the NBC show Fear Factor... Cleveland is holding its first "Breakaway with the Barons" open skate tonight in Mentor, Ohio... The Saint John Flames and Manitoba Moose will appear Wednesday at local McDonald's locations to help celebrate McHappy Day 2002, raising funds for Ronald McDonald Children's Charities and other local aid organizations... The Stanley Cup was on display at Van Andel Arena during Saturday's Grand Rapids-Milwaukee game... Members of the Providence Bruins have begun writing weekly columns in the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times.

 ETC. ... Friday's 14-game schedule marked the busiest night in AHL history, and the first of four such dockets on tap for this season... Matt Herr's appearance with Boston on Thursday made him the 100th player to skate in both the AHL and the NHL already this season... David Harlock's goal in Philadelphia's 4-1 win over Bridgeport on Friday gives him 11 in 543 career professional games... Hartford defenseman Mike Mottau owns a league-best plus-17 rating on the year, including a +10 in his last five games... Bridgeport has killed off 80 of 84 shorthanded chances (95.2%) over the last 15 games... Worcester's Justin Papineau has 14 points in his last eight games and a league-high 12 goals on the season after tying for the AHL lead with 38 goals a year ago... Oleg Saprykin has six goals and one assist in his last four games for Saint John... Norfolk's Mike Peluso and Hamilton's Jason Ward, separated by three points at the head of the AHL scoring race, each carries a nine-game scoring streak into this week... Springfield has won four of its last five to move one point out of second place in the East Division... Three of Cleveland's five wins this season have come after the Barons trailed entering the third period... Syracuse broadcaster Bob McElligott rejoined the Crunch on Friday after a two-game stint at the mike for the parent Columbus Blue Jackets.