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AHL Update

Small in stature, Atkinson coming up big on the ice

Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 5:50 PM / AHL Update

Samantha Wood - Special to

It's easy to spot Cam Atkinson on the ice.

The smallest of the Springfield Falcons, the 5-foot-8 winger is recognizable as the blur regularly weaving through defensemen twice his size and beating out goaltenders with twice his experience.

At 22 years old, the Columbus Blue Jackets' prospect is ranked eighth among AHL rookies in scoring with 9 goals and 15 points in 18 games this season.

Though some would suggest his size could be a hindrance in his budding professional career, Atkinson disagrees.

Goalie prospect Irving understands perseverance

Monday, 11.21.2011 / 7:12 PM / AHL Update

Samantha Wood - Special to

At 6 feet tall and 23 years old, Calgary Flames prospect Leland Irving of the Abbotsford Heat is neither the biggest nor the youngest goaltender in the American Hockey League. But he's quickly becoming one of the best.

Newly minted as the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week, Irving is riding high with his Heat atop the Western Conference. Having started 18 of Abbotsford's first 19 games this season, Irving (13-5-0) leads the AHL in wins, minutes played (1,022) and shutouts (3) while ranking fourth with a 1.94 goals-against average and 10th with a .927 save percentage.

After being drafted by Calgary in the first round in 2006 (No. 26), Irving has spent the last four seasons backstopping the Flames' AHL affiliate. He said his game has changed dramatically since turning pro, thanks to intensive coaching and training.

Return of AHL has St. John's celebrating

Friday, 11.18.2011 / 6:00 PM / AHL Update

Lindsay Kramer - Correspondent

The city of St. John's, Newfoundland, casts different images depending upon the perspective of its viewers.

To visiting American Hockey League players, "The Rock" emerges from the ocean as their team plane lowers from the clouds and heads toward a landing. If they are lucky, that is. Should the land mass not come into sight, it probably means the team is touching down in a blizzard or the fog that seems to constantly shroud the island.

To the faithful who live there, the city is a warm, neighborly community bound by a long list of factors, of which passion for hockey ranks near the top.

Carter Ashton hoping to follow in father's footsteps

Monday, 11.14.2011 / 5:35 PM / AHL Update

Samantha Wood - Special to

Carter Ashton has some big skates to fill.

The Tampa Bay Lightning's 2009 first-round draft pick (No. 29) is in the midst of a stellar rookie season with the American Hockey League's Norfolk Admirals. Though Ashton is proving his mettle as a professional hockey player in his own right, he follows in the footsteps of a father whose own career spanned 14 years in the NHL.

Brent Ashton made just two games shy of 1,000 appearances for seven NHL organizations, scoring a career 284 goals and adding 345 assists for 629 points, along with 635 penalty minutes.

His son seems to have inherited his offensive spark; the 20-year-old Carter has a league-leading 11 goals and 17 points, good for third, in his 16 AHL games this season.

Colborne developing nicely with Marlies

Monday, 11.07.2011 / 6:50 PM / AHL Update

Samantha Wood - Special to

What sophomore slump?

Joe Colborne, in his second full season in the American Hockey League, has hit his stride. He's leading the league in scoring, and was the Reebok/AHL Player of the Month for October.

In his first 12 games this season, the 21-year-old has notched 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points. His success is marked by hard work both on and off the ice and a commitment to improving his game.

"I've gotten off to a nice start and during the summer I really focused on the intangibles," Colborne said. "I put a lot of time in and focused on my skating and improving my shot. After my first year pro, I realized I needed to stay committed to what I did off the ice, so I really pushed myself at the gym."

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Calgary native said he focused on speed this summer, as well as faceoffs and agility.

Legace hoping for one last NHL job

Friday, 10.28.2011 / 11:23 AM / AHL Update

Lindsay Kramer - Correspondent

The end of goalie Manny Legace's career has the look and feel of its beginning.

Maybe not in his worn-down body, which just a couple of weeks ago almost forced him into retirement for good.

And maybe not in overall mental acuity. Or, as Legace himself puts it, "I'm still dumb as a box of rocks."

Legace jokes a lot like that, punctuating most breaks in his conversation with the laugh of a mischievous school kid.

Flyers' AHL team to play outdoors vs. Hershey

Monday, 09.26.2011 / 2:29 PM / AHL Update

The Philadelphia Flyers won't be the only team in the organization that gets a chance to play outdoors in January -- the Adirondack Phantoms will play at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia just four days later in the Outdoor Classic.

The Phantoms, the Flyers' AHL affiliate, will host the Hershey Bears, the Washington Capitals' AHL squad, on Friday, Jan. 6 as part the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic festivities. Four days earlier, the Flyers will play host to the New York Rangers in the seventh outdoor game in NHL history.
"This is an extremely exciting day for the Phantoms organization and Phantoms fans everywhere," said Phantoms President Rob Brooks. "A hockey celebration and atmosphere unlike anything the AHL has ever seen will happen at Citizens Bank Park. We are extremely grateful to (Comcast-Spectacor President) Peter Luukko for helping make this truly great event a reality."

Jets' AHL affiliate reveals name, logos

Friday, 07.29.2011 / 1:36 PM / AHL Update

The Winnipeg Jets' American Hockey League affiliate will be known as the St. John's IceCaps, the team announced Friday. The IceCaps also released the team's logos.

"I am so pleased to present the St. John's IceCaps and our new logo to fans, as we begin a new era of professional hockey in the province," President and Chief Executive Officer Danny Williams said in a press release. "The IceCaps is a name that I am confident hockey fans will support as it captures both our rich hockey history with a reference to the Caps, while at the same time capturing a natural element that is iconic for the province, ice. We wanted to ensure that, although the team is based in our capital city, the province as a whole can identify with it and embrace it as their own."

Ron Rolston named coach at AHL Rochester

Wednesday, 07.27.2011 / 12:00 PM / AHL Update

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

As the United States National Team Development Program has sent more and more prospects to the NHL, one coach had remained a constant with USA Hockey -- Ron Rolston.

That changed on Wednesday, as Rolston left the USNTDP after seven years to become the coach of the Rochester Americans, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.

"I am both excited and honored to join an organization with as storied a tradition as the Rochester Americans," Rolston said. "The opportunity to work within the Sabres organization, and to develop players at the game's highest level, is an opportunity that I am committed to and embrace."

AHL unveils new divisions, postseason format

Tuesday, 07.05.2011 / 1:07 PM / AHL Update

The American Hockey League has been developing future NHL talents for decades and now it is going to look a lot more like the top League in the world.

David Andrews, the president and CEO of the AHL, announced Tuesday the league's realignment and alterations to the playoff structure after an annual meeting of the Board of Governors. The AHL will have six divisions of five teams for the 2011-12 season.

The league's newest franchise, St. John's, will be part of the Eastern Conference's Atlantic Division, along with Manchester, Portland, Providence and Worcester. The New York Rangers' affiliate's first full season as the Connecticut Whale will play in the Northeast Division along with Adirondack, Albany, Bridgeport and Springfield. The East Division will include Binghamton, Hershey, Norfolk, Syracuse and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
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Quote of the Day

He's a special guy. Obviously we are lucky to have him. Just his talent, I'm not surprised anymore. You get to see this guy every practice, and you know what he's able to do. Obviously, it's pretty special for a guy that young to score a hat trick in playoffs, this type of a game too. Really happy for him.

— Predators goalie Pekka Rinne on Filip Forsberg, whose hat trick led Nashville to a Game 5 win vs. Chicago on Thursday