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AHL Update

Sgarbossa, Agozzino hope same path leads to NHL

Friday, 10.25.2013 / 3:28 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

In the game of hockey, on-ice chemistry is the key to success. For Colorado Avalanche prospects Michael Sgarbossa and Andrew Agozzino, the bond began forming well before they got to the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.

"We definitely knew about each other," Sgarbossa said. "I didn't really like playing against him because he was obviously a good player on the other team and was always tough to compete against."

Natives of the Toronto area, the two competed against each other in the Ontario Hockey League from 2008-12, Agozzino with the Niagara IceDogs and Sgarbossa with the Barrie Colts, Saginaw Spirit and Sudbury Wolves.

"We were in the same division so we played each other quite a bit," Agozzino said. "Mike was a great player in the OHL. We were kind of familiar with one another and did some training together in the summer so when we both got here it was pretty easy to connect."

Akeson hopes hard work carries him back to NHL

Friday, 10.18.2013 / 1:15 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

It's not easy to be known as "the hardest working man in the business," but when it comes to hockey, that won't deter Jason Akeson from his pursuit of the title.

"I've always said if you're the hardest working guy on the ice and are doing all the little things right, then that's what's going to give you a shot to make it," he said.

It's his devotion to hard work that has carried the 23-year-old this far. Undrafted, the one-time Ontario Hockey League scoring champion signed an entry-level deal with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011 and has spent the majority of the past two seasons with the club's American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.

New organization, same goal for Bruins' Fraser

Friday, 10.11.2013 / 4:38 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

In the realm of professional sports, where change is often the only constant, athletes are aware that they may find themselves on the trading block at any given time. But that didn't prepare Matt Fraser for the news he received on July 4.

"I was actually golfing when I found out," Fraser said. "My sister called, and I told her I was busy and would call her back. Two holes later, I had 10 missed calls and texts."

The Dallas Stars had traded the 23-year-old prospect as part of a blockbuster that also sent Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow and Reilly Smith to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button.

"I definitely wasn't expecting it," Fraser said. "All of a sudden I'm finding a new place to live. Once the initial shock of the trade wears off, you realize what kind of a position you're in."

American Hockey League names four to Hall of Fame

Thursday, 10.10.2013 / 6:10 PM / AHL Update Staff

Bill Dineen, Al MacNeil, Bob Perreault and John Slaney were named Thursday as the newest inductees to the American Hockey League Hall of Fame.

The league's ninth group of enshrinees will be honored during a ceremony scheduled for Feb. 12, 2014, at the St. John's Convention Centre as part of the AHL's All-Star Classic festivities.

"The achievements and contributions of these four individuals throughout their American Hockey League careers make them an integral part of the fabric of our storied history," David Andrews, AHL president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "The AHL Board of Governors is proud to unanimously approve the Selection Committee's recommendation for their induction into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame."

Dineen served as both a player and a coach, collecting 271 points in 391 AHL games before posting a 246-182-52 record behind the bench. He won the Stanley Cup twice as a member of the Detroit Red Wings and later coached the Adirondack Red Wings to two Calder Cup titles. His sons Shawn, Peter, Gord, Kevin and Jerry all went on to play and/or coach in the AHL.

Grand Rapids native earning his stripes with Griffins

Friday, 10.04.2013 / 3:12 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

Thousands of young hockey fans dream of one day skating with the pros. A select few grow up to realize that dream, and even fewer get the chance to live that dream in their hometown.

Luke Glendening became the first native of Grand Rapids, Mich., to play for the Grand Rapids Griffins when the American Hockey League club signed him to a one-year contract before last season.

"Some of my greatest childhood memories with my dad and brother are going to Griffins games," Glendening said. "To be here now as a player and remember that feeling of sitting in the stands is pretty special."

Glendening, who graduated from East Grand Rapids High School in 2007, earned a multi-year tenure as captain at the University of Michigan after joining the Wolverines as a walk-on.

He began the 2012-13 season with the Griffins' ECHL affiliate in Toledo, but it didn't take long for Grand Rapids coach Jeff Blashill to recall the 24-year-old forward.

Malhotra signs tryout agreement in AHL

Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 7:37 PM / AHL Update

Free-agent center Manny Malhotra, who spent most of last season on injured reserve due to the effects of an eye injury, signed a 25-game professional tryout contract with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League on Thursday.

Malhotra, one of the NHL's top defensive centers and faceoff men, was struck by a puck during a game on March 16, 2011, while playing for the Vancouver Canucks and suffered a serious injury to his left eye. He wasn't expected to play again that season, but returned to see action in six games in the Stanley Cup Final.

However, Malhotra had lost some vision in the eye and played a diminished role with the Canucks in 2011-12, scoring seven goals and finishing with 18 points in 78 games while playing mostly on the fourth line and killing penalties. After he went scoreless in his first nine games in 2012-13, the Canucks put Malhotra on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

Travis Green to coach Canucks' AHL team

Thursday, 07.11.2013 / 7:46 PM / AHL Update

The Vancouver Canucks on Thursday named former NHL center Travis Green coach of the Utica Comets, their new affiliate in the American Hockey League.

“We are very pleased to have Travis Green join our organization,” general manager Mike Gillis said in a statement. “Travis brings a wealth of hockey knowledge and a winning pedigree to the role. His experience as a player and immediate success as a head coach, guiding Portland to a WHL championship this past year, are tremendous assets to lead and develop our players and prospects in Utica.”

Green, 42, most recently served as assistant general manager and interim coach of the Portland Winterhawks, who won the Western Hockey League championship and advanced to the final of the Memorial Cup in May, where they lost to the Halifax Mooseheads. He joined the Winterhawks in October 2008 as assistant coach and assistant GM.

New division as AHL approves 2013-14 alignment

Thursday, 07.11.2013 / 12:53 PM / AHL Update

There will be a new division in the American Hockey League's Western Conference for the 2013-14 season to go along with two new teams, the league announced Thursday.

The West Division replaces the previously named South among the six divisions in the approved league alignment. The 15 teams in the Eastern Conference remain in the same division from 2012-13, but there will be some shuffling to accommodate two new franchises in the Western Conference.

AHL hockey will return to Utica, N.Y., for the first time in 20 years when the Utica Comets drop the puck on the 2013-14 season. The Comets, which will be the Vancouver Canucks' affiliate, are in the North Division along with Rochester, Lake Erie, Toronto and Hamilton. The Comets replaced the Peoria Rivermen as the league's 30th franchise.

Syracuse stays alive again in Calder Cup Final

Saturday, 06.15.2013 / 9:45 PM / AHL Update

The Syracuse Crunch won't give up the Calder Cup without a fight.

For the second straight night, the Crunch prevented the Grand Rapids Griffins from capturing the American Hockey League championship on their home ice. Richard Panik's power-play goal midway through the second period broke a tie as the Crunch beat the Griffins 4-2 in Game 5 on Saturday night, disappointing a packed house of 10,834 at Van Andel Arena.

The Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings' top farm team, had two chances to win the championship in front of their home fans after capturing Games 1 and 2 in Syracuse, then winning Game 3 at home. But Syracuse, the Tampa Bay Lightning's AHL affiliate, stayed alive with a 3-2 victory on Friday night; this victory sends the best-of-7 series back to Syracuse for Game 6 on Tuesday.

Syracuse avoids sweep in Calder Cup Final

Saturday, 06.15.2013 / 1:51 AM / AHL Update

The Syracuse Crunch avoided being swept out of the Calder Cup Final as Richard Panik's goal late in the second period Friday night lifted them to a 3-2 victory against the Grand Rapids Griffins in Game 4 of the American Hockey League's championship series.

Panik's deflection of Mark Barberio's point shot at 16:52 of the second period broke a 2-2 tie and spoiled the party for the sold-out crowd of 10,834 at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, get another chance to wrap up the first championship in franchise history in front of their home fans on Saturday night.

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