📝 by Patrick Williams
Thanksgiving in the USA has lengthy had a particular that means within the hockey world.
Six weeks after opening night time, the vacation offers a pure level at which to take inventory of the season up to now. Is that staff off to a sizzling begin for actual? Is a sluggish open to the marketing campaign nothing greater than that, one thing that may be reversed with a powerful post-holiday run?
Off the ice for AHL entrance places of work, the times earlier than and after Thanksgiving have lengthy been counted on as box-office successes.
Gamers, regardless of the place they’ve come from, sit up for a home-cooked meal with their teammates and adopted households. AHL groups which might be on the highway be sure to have a feast ready for his or her gamers and employees. For a lot of groups, that fourth Thursday in November means a light-weight follow day or maybe a day away from the rink fully.
The Windfall Bruins celebrated their maintain on first place within the AHL with a meal in Syracuse earlier than they face the resurgent Crunch tonight and Saturday. Earlier than a pair of video games this weekend in Hartford with the Wolf Pack, the Hershey Bears headed to a neighborhood nation membership to replenish on energy.
However past the great meals and abundance of motion this weekend throughout the AHL, the vacation is a time to decelerate and provides thanks. Going right into a busy weekend of play, here’s a team-by-team take a look at what all 32 AHL golf equipment can be glad about this yr.
🏒 With 35-goal scorer Sheldon Dries spending a lot of the season up to now in Vancouver, ahead Lane Pederson has been a welcome addition to the AHL Canucks. Pederson got here to the group from Carolina in an Oct. 28 deal and has instantly injected offense into the Abbotsford lineup. Going into immediately’s highway matinee in Calgary, Pederson has totaled seven targets in 9 video games for Abbotsford, six of them coming throughout a present five-game scoring streak.
🏒 Condors defenseman Michael Kesselring, a 2018 sixth-round draft decide by the mum or dad Edmonton Oilers, has been one of many AHL’s high breakout tales this season. The second-year professional out of Northeastern College has scored seven targets already, tied for the league lead amongst blueliners. Kesselring’s development shall be one thing for Edmonton followers to look at intently.
🏒 A barrage of accidents to a number of key gamers has pressured the Senators to lean closely on depth and stretch gamers’ capabilities. By means of all of it, Belleville has managed to remain close by of the North Division’s high 4. If and once they can keep wholesome for an prolonged interval, they are going to be that a lot stronger for it.
🏒 Save for a short sputter earlier this month, the Islanders have been wonderful up to now. Two of their three regulation losses this season have come in opposition to league-leading Windfall, however they’ve additionally crushed the Bruins twice on the highway. Powered by thrilling prospects like Simon Holmstrom, Aatu Raty, Ruslan Iskhakov, William Dufour, Arnaud Durandeau and main scorer Samuel Bolduc, it doesn’t appear like this Bridgeport membership shall be going away.
🏒 New dwelling, however similar core of Flames prospects who reached the Western Convention Finals final spring. Dustin Wolf, Jakob Pelletier, Matthew Phillips and Connor Zary are among the many returnees who’ve the Wranglers competing for first place within the Pacific Division. They possess a potent energy play (29.6 p.c) and are a big chance for one more future by the Calder Cup Playoffs.
🏒 With Seattle’s prospects leaving city after a one-season stopover in Charlotte, how would the Checkers alter to their offseason turnover? Fairly nicely, apparently. The Florida Panthers stocked their AHL roster nicely, and the Checkers are as soon as once more contenders. In his first North American season, Finnish import Anton Levtchi has 13 factors in 16 video games.
🏒 A crush of participant motion to and from the Columbus Blue Jackets has but to decelerate the Monsters, whose 4.13 targets per sport and 32.1 p.c power-play effectivity each lead the AHL. Trey Fix-Wolansky and Carson Meyer each rank among the many league scoring leaders, and first-year head coach Trent Vogelhuber has the Monsters trying to be a significant risk.
🏒 Chicago isn’t the juggernaut it was a season in the past, however that third Calder Cup championship banner that now hangs at Allstate Area is loads of cause for thanks. The Wolves had been hit laborious by offseason departures, exactly as a result of they did their job in making ready expertise for jobs with the Carolina Hurricanes and elsewhere within the Nationwide Hockey League.
🏒 The start of Firebirds hockey means two months and 22 video games on the highway as they await completion of the state-of-the-art Acrisure Area in Palm Desert, Calif. The Kraken affiliate was in a position to arrange store in Seattle — together with 4 “dwelling” video games within the Pacific Northwest final month — and has an 8-4-2-0 report to remain smack-dab within the Pacific Division race. Once they lastly do head dwelling for his or her Dec. 18 debut at their new constructing, the Firebirds needs to be well-positioned for a second-half run and a schedule full of dwelling dates.
🏒 The Eagles took an eight-game level streak into the Thanksgiving break and sit atop the Pacific Division going into this weekend’s two-game dwelling set with the Iowa Wild. One other membership that has needed to deal with a number of key recollects to the NHL mum or dad membership, the Eagles’ depth has taken over, and long-time NHL ahead Alex Galchenyuk definitely appears to be like good within the Colorado lineup as nicely.
🏒 Is Steve Yzerman going to do with the Detroit Crimson Wings what he already did with the Tampa Bay Lightning? It certain is starting to appear like it. The Crimson Wings GM has assembled one of the thrilling teams of elite younger expertise within the AHL, together with Jonatan Berggren, Simon Edvinsson and Cross Hanas. An eight-game highway journey early within the season was a problem, however the Griffins bought it out of the best way; as these prospects settle in, this needs to be a dynamic staff to look at.
🏒 The New York Rangers sending ahead Ryan Reaves to Minnesota earlier this week may imply alternative: for somebody in Hartford, it’s one fewer impediment to a task with the NHL membership because the Wolf Pack additionally work to search out their footing. The AHL is about alternative, and it’s right here.
🏒 The AHL model has come to the Las Vegas space, established in precisely two years by a membership with one of the colourful approaches to advertising and marketing in hockey. The attractive Greenback Mortgage Heart opened final April, and the Silver Knights anticipate to turn into a vacation spot for gamers for a very long time.
🏒 Chocolatetown has been a lot candy to the Bears this season; they’re a league-best 8-1-1-0 on dwelling ice. This being a Todd Nelson-coached staff, Hershey has been a defensive standout additionally, pacing the AHL with per-game averages of two.25 targets in opposition to and 25.7 photographs in opposition to.
🏒 Rookie ahead Sammy Walker, signed by the mum or dad Wild this summer season, attracted loads of consideration from NHL golf equipment. The Minnesota native and former College of Minnesota captain is tied for the AHL rookie scoring lead at 14 factors (seven targets, seven assists) with Iowa.
🏒 The Rocket can proceed to be glad about the attractive Place Bell and the packed crowds that cheer them on there. The world was highlighted throughout Laval’s run to the Jap Convention Finals final spring, and shall be on show once more when it hosts the 2023 AHL All-Star Basic offered by Bell in February.
🏒 Because the Philadelphia Flyers proceed to reconstruct their group, the Phantoms are being counted on to play a big function in that course of. Following a sluggish begin, wins of 5 of their previous six video games have the Phantoms again within the Atlantic Division fray. Kids Tyson Foerster, Cam York, Ronnie Attard, Elliot Desnoyers and Samuel Ersson have led Lehigh Valley up to now.
🏒 The Moose constructed one of many closest rosters final season, and offseason losses haven’t harm them this fall, both. Alex Limoges leads Manitoba in scoring after inking his first NHL contract with Winnipeg, and newcomer Oskari Salminen has been a stable addition in web.
🏒 After successful their first playoff collection in 11 years, the Admirals are again once more with some unfinished enterprise. Filled with a powerful base of Nashville prospects together with Luke Evangelista, Phil Tomasino, Egor Afanasyev and Yaroslav Askarov, Milwaukee has gained 11 of its first 15 video games and owns the very best report within the Western Convention.
🏒 Followers who come to Toyota Area every night time have an opportunity to see a number of the high prospects in hockey. Quinton Byfield, Tobias Bjornfot, Samuel Fagemo, Helge Grans, Akil Thomas, Samuel Helenius, Alex Turcotte and Rasmus Kupari had been all current first- or second-round draft picks by the Kings; even by AHL requirements, it is a younger staff, however it’s brimming with potential.
🏒 All the time a contender, the Bruins sit atop the AHL standings at 10-2-3-2. They personal a top-tier veteran core that might take them far, and three of their high 5 scorers are rookies in Fabian Lysell, Georgii Merkulov and Luke Toporowski. Goaltender Brandon Bussi was within the ECHL a month in the past, however he now leads the AHL with a .942 save share and has turn into a go-to possibility for head coach Ryan Mougenel.
🏒 Energetic head coach Seth Appert has fostered one of the participating, personable groups within the AHL. Because the Buffalo Sabres rebuild, they need that constructive, successful atmosphere to develop in Rochester that may be ingrained in prospects early of their careers. Followers had a style of that feeling final spring in the course of the Amerks’ deepest playoff run since 2005; now all people in Rochester needs extra of it.
🏒 Ahead David Gust, a Chicago-area native, crossed over to the IceHogs from the rival Wolves within the offseason. Lengthy a reliable participant, he has unlocked much more offense in his sport and is third in AHL scoring at 21 factors (9 targets, 12 assists) in solely 15 video games.
🏒 New head coach Roy Sommer was unsure what was subsequent for him after he left the San Jose Barracuda following final season. Then the Anaheim Geese put in him as their new head coach in San Diego, and the AHL teaching legend was again behind a bench. The AHL is a greater place with Sommer.
🏒 A brand new dwelling and a brand new roster imply new life for the Barracuda this fall. Large offseason modifications have introduced again successful hockey, and the glowing Tech CU Area is a gem. They’ve used a goaltending trio in Aaron Dell, Eetu Makiniemi and Strauss Mann that gives outstanding depth on the place.
🏒 Springfield hockey followers had been hungry for playoff hockey, and so they had been rewarded with town’s first journey to the Calder Cup Finals since 1991. That successful feeling has carried over to this season, and the Thunderbirds have discovered an amazing match with the St. Louis Blues.
🏒 This has turn into a sample for the Crunch — a sluggish begin adopted by a November turnaround. The Crunch are in the course of one other a type of, rebounding from a 2-6-1-2 begin with a five-game successful streak as league-leading Windfall involves city for 2 video games this weekend.
🏒 Ahead Matej Blumel will not be lengthy for the Texas lineup at this price. With 11 factors (5 targets, six assists) in 10 video games Blumel has already earned time with the Dallas Stars. The offseason signing from the Czech Extraliga has been an exquisite addition to the group.
🏒 After lacking the Calder Cup Playoffs final season, the Marlies are again. They survived a goaltending exodus after accidents hit the mum or dad Toronto Maple Leafs in web, and their energy play is potent at a fair 30.0 p.c, second-best within the AHL. The Marlies meet Cleveland in a home-and-home this weekend.
🏒 After starting his professional profession in Europe and successful a bronze medal with Slovakia on the 2022 Olympics, ahead Milos Kelemen is taking his shot at an NHL job. The Arizona Coyotes signed him within the offseason, and he has tailored nicely to life with the Roadrunners, with six targets and 5 assists in 15 video games.
🏒 Comets followers have had a possibility to see one thing particular — defenseman Simon Nemec, who went second total in July’s NHL Draft to the New Jersey Devils. The 18-year-old has greater than held his personal on the AHL stage as he works towards being a mainstay within the New Jersey lineup for a very long time.
🏒 Any staff with two-time Calder Cup winner Dustin Tokarski has an opportunity. All the time one of many high goalies within the league when he’s within the AHL, Tokarski is 6-2-2 with a 1.69 GAA and a .940 save share this season. The Penguins, 2-1-0-1 since a four-game shedding skid, host Lehigh Valley tonight.
One thing has to provide when Rochester hosts Bridgeport within the AHLTV Free Sport of the Week tonight (7 ET).
The Amerks have the second-best dwelling level share within the AHL (.813) and are coming off a 4-3 win over Windfall on Wednesday in one of many league’s greatest video games this season. Rochester scored thrice within the third interval to power extra time, the place Linus Weissbach scored on a breakaway with 5.1 seconds left to shine off the win. The Amerks are a outstanding 4-0-0-0 at dwelling this season when trailing going into the third interval.
However the Islanders have been a hazard on the highway, the place they’ve factors in seven of eight video games (4-1-3-0) this season. At 10-3-3-0 total, the Islanders will put a three-game successful streak on the road once they see the Amerks for the primary time this season.
🏒 Three AHL gamers made their Nationwide Hockey League debuts on Wednesday night time, bringing the season total to 21.
A primary-round alternative by Colorado (twenty eighth total) within the 2021 NHL Draft, rookie Oskar Olausson made his debut with the Avalanche in opposition to Vancouver. Olausson, who turned 20 earlier this month, has 4 targets and 4 assists in 16 AHL video games with the Colorado Eagles.
In his fourth yr with Bridgeport however nonetheless simply 21, Simon Holmstrom was within the New York Islanders lineup for the primary time as they shut out Edmonton. Holmstrom, taken within the first spherical (twenty third total) of the 2019 NHL Draft, has three targets and two assists in 15 AHL video games this season.
Mac Hollowell, a fourth-round draft decide by Toronto in 2018, debuted for the Maple Leafs of their 2-1 win at New Jersey. The 24-year-old Hollowell has 9 assists in 11 video games with the AHL Marlies this season.