Live from the AHL All-Star Skills Competition!

Here we are the DCU Center in Wooooooooooooster Mass for the AHL All-Star Classic skills competition where the best of the American Hockey League attempt to show off their best moves.  If you’re at home right now make sure to check the broadcast schedule to watch live on TV, or get on AHL Live and tune in.

Alyssa is down at ice level taking a lot of pictures, we’ll try and get them uploaded after the event to our flickr page.

The one thing I’ve noticed about traveling to other arena’s around the league is the lack of banners hanging from the rafters compared to Blue Cross Arena.  The pride and tradition of Rochester Americans hockey may have faded over the past few years, but the team is legendary in the American Hockey League.  It will return, someday.

One of the highlight of last years skills competition was Mark Mancari’s record breaking hardest shot at 102.8mph.

He’s scheduled to take part in the EA Sports Breakaway Relay, wasn’t quite sure why he wasn’t getting another chance at the hardest shot.  Wait, I meant the Reebok Hardest Shot.  Everything is sponsored, have to make sure to give proper credit!

Had a chance to talk to Mark for a few minutes prior to the start and just chat about his current season in Portland, and of course last season.  He talked about a completely different atmosphere being in Portland this season.  I specifically asked him about not being in a dual affiliation, he said it definately makes a difference.  Last season was not only tough for what was being said in the papers, but it was especially hard on Cunneyworth who had to make decisions of who to play and when, which took it’s toll on the rest of the team.

That would explain the lack of effort that we saw on many nights, compared to the chemistry that is building with the current team as the season goes on.

One person that has helped build that chemistry and restore confidence is Mike Brodeur.  He’s asked quite often about the last name and yes, Martin Brodeur is deep in the family tree somewhere but he’s not really sure where.  He’s only met him once, when he was about 16 and hasn’t spoken to him since.

Did you know…. Mike Brodeur has three dogs, one is 4lbs, another 40lbs, and the third is 120lbs!

One thing Mike commented on was that he was never worried about getting a contract signed, all sides knew it would get done, was just a matter of working out the details and just hoping it wasn’t going to get to the 25th game.  Many fans, us included were worried something would get screwed up, but that was never the case.

They were introducing the RBC Future Stars and Mike made a comment about hoping to not be scored on by any of them!   When he learned that rory Fitzpatrick would be shooting on him in the breakaway relay, correction, EA Sports Breakaway Relay, he joked about being able to stop at least one puck tonight!

Rory Fitzpatrick is also excited to be here, it’s his third AHL All-Star Classic (1997, 1998, 2009).  This one is much more easy going compared to the previous two.  Having been here before he said he’s able to relax more and also had his three boys along for the adventure.  The kids are sitting on the bench watching as well.

Majority of the team mascots are here.. I see them from the Crunch, Sharks, Admirals, Falcons, Bears, Senators, River Rats, Bulldogs, Griffins, and Wolf Pack.  Where’s Moose and the other bird?  Would be great to have them represented as well.

It’s nice to see the AHL “going green” in terms of media material.  Typically you get handed a thick packet of information with stats, results, and history.  They still had an option for that, but also handed out flash drives with the documents.

Sher-Wood Puck Control Relay:

Event 1 – Sher-Wood Puck Control Relay
Canadian PlanetUSA
Heat #1
Chris Maguire (Future Stars) Matthew Winter (Future Stars)
Zach Luczyk (Future Stars) Brian Rowland (Future Stars)
Winning RBC Future All-Star team earns one goal: PlanetUSA
Heat #2
Bryan Helmer (HER) Rory Fitzpatrick (RCH)
Brett MacLean (SAN) Petri Kontiola (RFD)
Kyle Cumiskey (LE) Martins Karsums (PRO)
Winning team earns one goal: Canadian
Heat #3
Derek Joslin (WOR) Ryan Vesce (WOR)
Winning player earns one goal for team: PlanetUSA

Reebok Fastest Skater:

Event 2 – Reebok Fastest Skater
Canadian sec. PlanetUSA sec.
Heat #1
Chris Maguire (Future Stars) 16.877 Matthew Winter (Future Stars) 18.199
Heat #2
Zach Luczyk (Future Stars) 15.979 Brian Rowland (Future Stars) 15.508
RBC Future All-Star with fastest time earns one goal for team: PlanetUSA
Heat #3
Chris Minard (WBS) 14.250 Jaime Sifers (TOR) 14.303
Heat #4
Cal O’Reilly (MIL) 14.764 Jared Ross (PHI) 14.187
Heat #5
Corey Locke (HOU) 14.901 Jakub Kindl (GRA) 14.937
Individual with fastest time earns one goal for team: PlanetUSA
Fastest team average time earns one goal: PlanetUSA

Enterprise Cleaning Corporation Rapid Fire

This is an event where you really see the reaction times of the goaltenders as they move side to side trying to stop shots.  Broduer goes last to face shots from Artem Anisimov (Hartford) and Keith Aucoin (Hershey).

Tough challenge there, he didn’t fair too well as he seemed to slide too far across the ice each time.  We’ll continue to blame the new pads he was forced to wear, the previous equipment had some apparent issues and couldn’t be worn anymore.

Event 3 – Enterprise Cleaning Corporation Rapid Fire
PlanetUSA Canadian Saves Goals
Round #1
Jeff Frazee (LOW) Derek MacKenzie (SYR) 3 2
Alexandre Giroux (HER) 3 2
Michael Ryan (ALB) Tyler Weiman (LE) 4 1
Jeff Taffe (WBS) 4 1
Round #2
Daniel Larsson (GR) Johnny Boychuk (PRO) 4 1
Danny Syvret (PHI) 4 1
Brian Salcido (IOW) Barry Brust (HOU) 4 1
Yannick Weber (HAM) 3 2
Round #3
Cory Schneider (MTB) Mike Santorelli (MIL) 4 1
Brandon Segal (NOR) 5 0
Artem Anisimov (HFD) Mike Brodeur (RCH) 2 3
Keith Aucoin (HER) 2 3
Team with the most total saves earns one goal: PlanetUSA

Reebok Hardest Shot

Why Mark Mancari wasn’t picked is beyond me, but maybe one of the other guys will be able to do just as well.  Seems like in terms of publicity you’d want the guy who broke the record the year prior to get another crack at it.

I have this urge to go rent a car from Enterprise for the drive home, and stop at a mall on the way to buy some Reebok sneakers.

This is weak.  Mark needs to go out and take over this competition, even unofficially.  Nothing has been over 95mph.

Derek Joslin of the Worcester Sharks finally gets some excitement with his first shot at 98.6, and his second a whopping 48mph.  He was able to get the biggest chear and the biggest laugh!

Event 4 – Reebok Hardest Shot
Canadian mph PlanetUSA mph
Cody Franson (MIL) 95.4 Bobby Sanguinetti (HFD) 93.2
Andrew MacDonald (BRI) 93.9 Ben Lovejoy (WBS) 92.2
Brett Palin (QCY) 86.3 Mattias Karlsson (BNG) 94.5
Derek Joslin (WOR) 98.6 Jonas Junland (PEO) 87.5
Team with the higher average speed earns one goal: Canadian
Player with hardest shot earns one goal for team: Canadian

Charter Communications Accuracy Shooting

I think this is something that the Amerks need to do at some practices.  They have the lowest goals for in the league, partially because they all too often don’t get quality shots where they need to go.

Event 5 – Charter Communications Accuracy Shooting
Canadian hits att PlanetUSA hits att
Chris Maguire (Future Stars) 1 8 Matthew Winter (Future Stars) 0 8
Zach Luczyk (Future Stars) 0 8 Brian Rowland (Future Stars) 4 7
RBC Future All-Star with most hits in fewest attempts earns one goal for team: PlanetUSA
Chris Minard (WBS) 2 8 Chris Bourque (HER) 3 7
Teddy Purcell (MCH) 3 7 Martins Karsums (PRO) 4 5
Mike Santorelli (MIL) 4 4 Ryan Vesce (WOR) 4 5
Player with most hits in fewest attempts earns one goal for team: Canadian
Team with most total hits in fewest attempts earns one goal: PlanetUSA

Bud Light Pass and Score

With Bud Light being a sponsor, they need to work in the real man of genius commercial saluting the tshirt cannon while someone is on the ice shooting tshirts out of a cannon!

Three players against one goalie, each player must touch the puck, and they get 30 seconds to try and score three goals.  Events like this are a little more interesting than the puck relay.  Sure, it takes skill skating around cones with a puck, but events like this should be partially showing skills needed in hockey, and events that are fast paced for fans.

This not only tests the players passing and shooting but the goalies as well being all alone with no help.

After the buzzer went off Cory Schneider didn’t stop, someone took a shot and Schneider made a save with the toe of his skate up in the air.  Excellent save.

Mike Brodeur is taking on Brian Salcido (Iowa), Chris Borque (Hershey), and Keith Aucoin (Hershey).  He saved one of three shots faced.

Planet USA is currently winning the overall competition by the score of 14 – 7.

Event 6 – Bud Light Pass and Score
Canadian PlanetUSA goals saves
Heat #1
Johnny Boychuk (PRO) Jeff Frazee (LOW) 0 3
Mike Iggulden (BRI)
Brett MacLean (SAN)
Heat #2
Tyler Weiman (LE) Jakub Kindl (GR) 3 0
Joe Motzko (HER)
Jeff Taffe (WBS)
Heat #3
Mark Mancari (POR) Daniel Larsson (GR) 3 0
Cal O’Reilly (MIL)
Mike Santorelli (MIL)
Heat #4
Barry Brust (HOU) Ryan Potulny (SPR) 2 1
Petri Kontiola (RFD)
Michael Ryan (ALB)
Heat #5
Danny Syvret (PHI) Cory Schneider (MTB) 0 3
Teddy Purcell (MCH)
Alexandre Giroux (HER)
Heat #6
Mike Brodeur (RCH) Brian Salcido (IOW) 2 1
Chris Bourque (HER)
Keith Aucoin (HER)
Each individual goal scored counts toward overall team score: PlanetUSA 8, Canadian 3

EA Sports NHL 09 Breakaway Relay

Here’s the chance for Rory Fitzpatrick to put one past Brodeur!

This is the chance for some players to show off some creative shots.  Like Ovechkin (youtube) at the NHL skills competition or Rob Schremp (youtube).

Great shot by Brett MacLean (San Antonio) who avoided the poke check by Frazee and put it in with the backhander.

Brandon Segal (Norfolk) got fancy by skating in backwards, and Mike Iggulden (Bridgeport) went for passing the puck through his legs and taking a shot.  A little something different at least.

Ryan Vesce faked Brodeur out pretty darn good and put in an easy goal.

Ryan Potulney was coming down the right wing side, Brodeur saw it coming and dove across the ice with a poke check.  He almost had his head taken off, but a great save.  Potulney had no chance of getting it up and over him.

Event 7 – EA Sports NHL 09 Breakaway Relay
Canadian goal save PlanetUSA goal save
Round #1
Bryan Helmer (HER 1 Jakub Kindl (GR) 1
Brett Palin (QCY) 1 Chris Bourque (HER) 1
Mark Mancari (POR) 1 Ben Lovejoy (WBS) 1
Cody Franson (MIL) 1 Martins Karsums (PRO) 1
Mike Santorelli (MIL) 1 Jonas Junland (PEO) 1
Brett MacLean (SAN) 1 Artem Anisimov (HFD) 1
vs. Jeff Frazee (LOW) vs. Tyler Weiman (LE)
Round #2
Kyle Cumiskey (LE) 1 Yannick Weber (HAM) 1
Brandon Segal (NOR) 1 Chris Bourque (HER) 1
Danny Syvret (PHI) 1 Ben Lovejoy (WBS) 1
Mike Iggulden (BRI) 1 Martins Karsums (PRO) 1
Derek MacKenzie (SYR) 1 Jonas Junland (PEO) 1
Chris Minard (WBS) 1 Artem Anisimov (HFD) 1
vs. Daniel Larsson (GR) vs. Barry Brust (HOU)
Round #3
Derek Joslin (WOR) 1 Ryan Vesce (WOR) 1
Andrew MacDonald (BRI) 1 Rory Fitzpatrick (RCH) 1
Cal O’Reilly (MIL) 1 Mattias Karlsson (BNG) 1
Corey Locke (HOU 1 Ryan Potulny (SPR) 1
Alexandre Giroux (HER) 1 Jeff Taffe (WBS) 1
Teddy Purcell (MCH) 1 Michael Ryan (ALB) 1
vs. Cory Schneider (MTB) vs. Mike Brodeur (RCH)
Each individual goal scored counts toward the overall team score: Canadian 5, PlanetUSA 2

Planet USA with an 18 – 12 win.

That brings the skills competition to a close.  We’re off to Mechanics Hall for a U2 cover band and duelling pianos.. Will try and get pictures uploaded tonight and follow up tomorrow with any comments from the locker rooms.

It would be amusing if they had a skills competition amongst mascots!  Maybe next year?