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AHL Roundup: Offenses off to good start in AHL

Monday, 10.29.2012 / 1:38 PM / AHL Update

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

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AHL Roundup: Offenses off to good start in AHL
Thanks to an infusion of young talent, a number of AHL teams are scoring a lot of goals in the early stages of the new season.

Each Monday, NHL.com will take a look back at the weekend that was in the American Hockey League with an emphasis on the young stars and top prospects that are continuing their development. Here are some of the highlights from the past few days in the AHL:

The AHL season is now three weekends old, and one trend worth monitoring is that a number of teams are scoring a lot of goals. Three teams (Charlotte, Portland and Rochester) are averaging at least four goals per game, and four more teams (Connecticut, Houston, Manchester and Norfolk) are all one goal shy of being at four per contest.

Norfolk, which blitzed the league en route to the title last sason, led the AHL at 3.59 goals per game last season, and Hershey was second at 3.21.

Charlotte and Manchester had dominant weekends and are atop their respective divisions. The Checkers scored 14 times in sweeping three games on the road, including back-to-back shutouts in Peoria. The Monarchs won both of their games in convincing fashion  and lead the AHL in goal differential at plus-12 through six games.

FRIDAY

FIRST STAR

Roman Horak, Abbotsford

Horak had a pair of goals to help the Heat win 5-3 in Cleveland against Lake Erie. Originally drafted by the New York Rangers, Horak came to Calgary in the 2011 trade for defenseman Tim Erixon. He played 61 games as a rookie for the Flames, finishing with three goals and 11 points. Horak has six goals in six contests to start the season for Abbotsford -- one more than he had 83 combined games at the NHL and AHL levels last year.

SECOND STAR

Jake Allen, Peoria

Allen has had two great performances this season, including turning aside 32 of 33 shots to beat Chicago in a 4-1 win for the Rivermen. The problem for the Blues' second-round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft has been his other four appearances. Allen has posted two AHL seasons with a .915 save percentage or better, but he's at .882 this campaign -- even after allowing only a single Jordan Schroeder tally against the Wolves. 

THIRD STAR

Justin Faulk, Charlotte

Faulk had a goal and two assists for Charlotte in a 6-4 win against Grand Rapids. He had a great rookie season for the Hurricanes last season, and he's been a catalyst for Charlotte's 6-1-0-1 start. Faulk has nine points in six games, and is tied for second in the league in assists behind Houston's Marco Scandella and Rochester's Cody Hodgson. Red Wings prospect Gustav Nyquist also had three points in a losing effort.

NOTES: Justin Schultz had two assists, but Oklahoma City lost 6-4 to Houston in a matchup of two of the most prospect-laden teams in the AHL. Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle scored for the Aeros. ... Albany's Adam Henrique and Adirondack's Zac Rinaldo both scored on penalty shots in the Devils' 5-1 win. Adam Larsson had two assists in the win. ... Ryan Johansen had two assists in a 3-0 win for Springfield against Providence. ... Brendan Gallagher had his first professional goal for Hamilton in a 5-4 loss to Toronto. He also had 10 shots on net in the game. Gallagher scored more than 40 each of the past three seasons in the Western Hockey League. ... Kirill Kabanov had emergency surgery Friday night after being cut on the wrist in Bridgeport's loss to Worcester. Kabanov, a third-round pick by the New York Islanders in 2010, is out indefinitely.

SATURDAY

FIRST STAR

Brandon Pirri, Rockford

Pirri had a goal and two assists for the IceHogs in a 6-5 overtime win against Grand Rapids. He had the goal 58 seconds into the extra session. A second-round pick in 2009, Pirri has less NHL experience than several other young Rockford forwards, but he leads the IceHogs with seven points in eight games.

SECOND STAR

Charlie Coyle, Houston 

Coyle is one of six 20-year-olds on the Aeros (and defenseman Jonas Brodin is 19), but at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds he is not at a physical disadvantage against a lot of the guys several years older in the AHL. He had two goals in a 4-0 win against Milwaukee, and the 2010 first-round pick now leads the Aeros with five tallies in seven games.

THIRD STAR

Braden Holtby, Hershey

Holtby made 35 saves to collect a shutout in a 3-0 win against Albany. One of the breakout stars of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs with Washington, Holtby missed last weekend because of an upper-body injury but he was flawless in his return against the Devils. He now has nine shutouts in his past 72 appearances in the AHL.

NOTES: Chris Kreider, who went from Boston College to playoff hero for the New York Rangers, scored his first AHL goal for Connecticut in a win against Providence. ... Sami Vatanen had a goal in Norfolk's loss to St. John's. Vatanen, a fourth-round pick in 2009 by Anaheim, leads the Admirals with seven points in six games. ... Eric Tangradi scored twice for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and 2010 first-round pick Beau Bennett had his first professional goal in a win against Syracuse. ... Jeremy Welsh made his pro debut in the season finale for the Carolina Hurricanes in April, but he scored his first two goals as a pro in a win against Peoria.

SUNDAY

FIRST STAR

Brayden Schenn, Adirondack

Schenn had a goal and three assists in the Phantoms' 4-3 overtime win against Syracuse. He scored with 62 seconds left in regulation to force the bonus hockey and set up Brandon Manning for the winner just 14 seconds into the extra session. Schenn leads the Phantoms with nine points in seven games.

SECOND STAR

Igor Bobkov, Norfolk

Bobkov stopped all 38 shots he faced in a 2-0 win against St. John's. A 2009 third-round pick by Anaheim, Bobkov is competing for time with Frederik Andersen, a third-round selection in June for the Ducks. Both are playing well, and Bobkov, the guy who was in net for Russia when it rallied past Canada in the gold-medal game of the 2011 World Junior Championships, has a .938 save percentage in three starts.

THIRD STAR

Justin Schultz, Oklahoma City

Schultz scored a pair of power-play goals to help the Barons defeat Texas. Both of his goals were set up by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and the two figure to be fixtures on the Edmonton power play for many years to come. Schultz is leading the league with 12 points, and he leads all defensemen with six goals. Nugent-Hopkins had left Oklahoma City's game Friday early after getting hit in the mouth by the puck.

NOTES: Killorn scored his first two goals of the season for Syracuse in the loss to Adirondack. Killorn, a third-round pick by Tampa Bay in 2007, joined Norfolk after his season at Harvard was over for the 2012 Calder Cup run. ... Martin Jones stopped 29 shots for Manchester in a 4-0 win against Binghamton. Jones, who might be the best No. 3 goaltender in any NHL organization and could join the Los Angeles Kings should they trade backup Jonathan Bernier, has yielded 11 goals in six games for the Monarchs. L.A.'s top forward prospect, Tyler Toffoli, scored his third goal and has five points in six games. ... Tomas Tatar had a goal and an assist for Grand Rapids in a win against Chicago; he leads the Griffins with eight points in seven games.

Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic