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AHL Update

Desjardins making name for himself in Lake Erie

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:29 PM / AHL Update

Samantha Wood - Special to

If you ask Lake Erie Monsters head coach David Quinn, goaltender Cedrick Desjardins is on the verge of becoming a household name.

"I think (some) people know who he is, but by the end of this year, I think everyone's going to know who he is," Quinn said. "There's no one better in the American Hockey League right now."

The numbers agree: Desjardins, in his first year in the Colorado Avalanche organization, leads the AHL in both goals-against average (1.49) and save percentage (.952). 

Nyquist adjusting rapidly to North American game

Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 10:23 AM / AHL Update

Samantha Wood - Special to

Playing over 4,000 miles away from his hometown of Halmstad, Sweden, Grand Rapids Griffins left winger Gustav Nyquist has to improvise when he's homesick.

"I think obviously me and Andy [Joakim Andersson] have been pretty close together," he said of the relationship with his Griffins linemate. "We're both from Sweden and he has a Swedish girlfriend here so it's kind of nice to sometimes go over to their place and be Swedish for a little bit."

His off-ice camaraderie with his fellow transplants has translated to impressive numbers for Nyquist. The 2008 fourth-round draft pick by the Detroit Red Wings has blossomed into the AHL's second-best rookie scorer, posting 9 goals and 27 points in 25 games this season.

Whirlwind experience marked Fairchild's NHL debut

Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 6:12 PM / AHL Update

Samantha Wood - Special to

Cade Fairchild almost missed his first NHL game.

The 22-year-old defenseman got the call at practice with his Peoria Rivermen the morning of Nov. 29. He drove himself the three hours to Chicago's O'Hare Airport, only to find out his flight was cancelled. After being re-routed to Chicago Midway Airport, the Minnesota native boarded a plane to Washington, D.C., to meet up with the St. Louis Blues as they prepared to take on the Washington Capitals that night.

He made it just in time to lace up his skates for warm-ups.

"It was kind of a whirlwind of a day, but it was certainly reaching a goal of my life that I've had for a long time, so it was pretty special," Fairchild said.

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."
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