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AHL Update

Panthers' Trocheck ready for next level

Friday, 03.07.2014 / 12:20 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to NHL.com

It's been a whirlwind week for 20-year-old Vincent Trocheck. The rookie forward with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League received his first call-up to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, just after the NHL Trade Deadline passed. He's expected to make his NHL debut for the Panthers on Friday against the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

"It's been crazy," Trocheck said. "It's obviously what I've been working for my whole life. Getting the call was surreal and I couldn't be more excited to be here."

Trocheck began his path to professional hockey long before arriving in the Sunshine State. A Pittsburgh native, he was born in 1993, right after the Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.

"Growing up in Pittsburgh was a great influence," Trocheck said. "The Penguins were doing really well whenever I was young so that kind of got me into hockey and it all started there."

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Etem's road to NHL brings him back home

Friday, 02.28.2014 / 12:37 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to NHL.com

It was during his childhood in his shorefront hometown of Long Beach, Calif., that Emerson Etem of the American Hockey League's Norfolk Admirals got his unconventional start in the game of hockey.

"I started playing roller hockey when I was three," said Etem, now 21 and in his second season of professional hockey. "There was a YMCA right down the street with a roller rink. My brother tried it out so I just wanted to follow in his footsteps -- it looked fun and I ended up loving it.

"When I was six years old, I moved to ice hockey and it just kind of took off [from there]."

Etem moved to Minnesota at the age of 14 to play for Shattuck-St. Mary's School, where he won a national championship in 2008. He competed for the U.S. National Team Developmental Program from 2008-09 and spent three seasons as a prolific major junior scorer with Medicine Hat in the Western Hockey League.

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Time in Pittsburgh boosting Gibbons' stock

Friday, 02.21.2014 / 3:40 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to NHL.com

Many athletes work their entire lives to achieve their professional goals. But their ultimate rise is often meteoric.

The recent on-ice success of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Brian Gibbons in the American Hockey League has catapulted him all the way to the National Hockey League. That run that took off during his team's stint in the Calder Cup Playoffs last spring.

"Toward the end of last year in the playoffs, I started figuring out the pro game more and feeling more comfortable with the way I was playing," said Gibbons, who is in his third season in the Pittsburgh Penguins' organization. "I had a good offseason and worked hard, and then just had a hot start and it carried over."

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Pirri, Strome each net two to lead AHL all-stars

Wednesday, 02.12.2014 / 10:13 PM / AHL Update

NHL.com

Brandon Pirri and Ryan Strome each scored two goals to lead a team of American Hockey League All-Stars to a 7-2 win against Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League on Wednesday at the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. The game took place at a sold out Mile One Centre (6,287) and was the first international game in AHL All-Star history.

Pirri, Mike Hoffman (Binghamton Senators) and Joe Whitney (Albany Devils) combined for eight points for the AHL All-Stars.

"We're all offensive-minded players so when you throw us guys together we can usually [play well] together quickly," Hoffman said. "It's nice to play in an All-Star game."

Pirri, a second-round pick (No. 59) of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009 draft who last season led the AHL in scoring with 75 points, added an assist and was named the game's most valuable player. He has five goals and 10 assists in eight games with the Rockford Icehogs and six goals in 28 games with the Blackhawks this season.

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AHL All-Stars edge Färjestad BK in skills competition

Tuesday, 02.11.2014 / 9:00 PM / AHL Update

NHL.com

Hometown captain Jason Jaffray played the role of hero as the American Hockey League All-Star team earned a thrilling 18-17 victory against Färjestad BK of the Swedish Elite League in the 2014 AHL All-Star Skills Competition at Mile One Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland Tuesday evening.

Jaffray, the AHL's All-Star captain who also wears the "C" for the St. John's IceCaps, scored at the end of the fourth round of the AHL Live Breakaway Relay event to tie the score, then converted in the third sudden-death shootout round to give the AHL the win. The victory against their Swedish guests marked the first part of the two-day 2014 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Assante Wealth Management.

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AHL all-stars ready to shine in St. John's

Friday, 02.07.2014 / 11:05 AM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to NHL.com

As sports fans around the globe prepare to watch the world's most-skilled athletes showcase their talents at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the American Hockey League's best are set to put an international twist on their showcase event for the first time.

The 2014 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Assante Wealth Management will be held Feb. 11-12 in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, with this year's team of AHL all-stars competing against Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League in a Skills Competition on Tuesday and the AHL All-Star Game on Wednesday.

Led by Jeff Blashill, head coach of the 2013 Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins, and Rob Zettler of the runner-up Syracuse Crunch, the 2014 AHL All-Star roster highlights 22 of the league's elite players.

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Return to AHL not keeping Blues' Allen down

Friday, 01.31.2014 / 2:11 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to NHL.com

Veteran goaltenders Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak have helped raise the St. Louis Blues back to a place among the elite teams in the NHL.

However, it was around this time last year that Jake Allen made the League take notice that the Blues' goaltending depth didn't stop there.

Recalled from the American Hockey League to replace an injured Halak in February and again in early March, Allen posted a 9-4-0 record in his 15 appearances with St. Louis, including one shutout. The significance of his performance, which earned him a spot on the NHL All-Rookie Team at season's end, was recognized by Blues assistant general manager Kevin McDonald, who also oversees the team's prospects in the AHL.

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History helping Kings prospects learn in the present

Friday, 01.17.2014 / 2:00 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to NHL.com

If there's anyone who can understand the trials and tribulations of an athlete's first year as a professional, it's a longtime friend who is experiencing the same transition alongside him.

Rookies Derek Forbort and Nick Shore of the American Hockey League's Manchester Monarchs have a history that dates back to when they were teammates in the United States National Team Development Program, capturing a gold medal at the 2010 World Under-18 Championship.

"The first time we met was with the U-17 National Development Program [in 2008-09], where he played in a tournament with us," Shore said of Forbort. "The next year he joined the team full-time, so I got to know him a lot better."

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Chaput working to get back to NHL

Friday, 01.03.2014 / 1:56 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to NHL.com

When the NHL comes knocking, any player in the American Hockey League must be prepared to answer the call. For second-year pro Michael Chaput of the Springfield Falcons, the feeling of making his NHL debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this season is one he’ll never forget.

"I remember sitting in the locker room next to Mark Letestu and he was just telling me to play my game and things will go well,” Chaput said. “[The team’s veterans] are there to make sure you’re not too stressed out and that you’re confident when you go out there for your first few games."

A third-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 NHL Draft (No. 89), Chaput was acquired by the Blue Jackets in 2011 and was the MVP of the 2012 Memorial Cup, with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

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Wild ride for Rochester's Ruhwedel includes outdoors

Friday, 12.13.2013 / 2:20 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to NHL.com

For most people, the mere mention of Southern California evokes images of sun, sand and surf.

For San Diego native Chad Ruhwedel, his mind has always been on the ice.

"Playing hockey out there, it definitely wasn't the biggest sport," said Ruhwedel, a rookie defenseman with the American Hockey League's Rochester Americans. "Ninety percent of the kids didn't play hockey -- it was mostly baseball, basketball, football … the standard sports. My mom and dad threw the skates on me at a young age, and it just kind of stuck. I knew it was the sport I always wanted to put first."

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Quote of the Day

This is a great day for me. This is something I've been thinking about for a long time. This is a great opportunity that the St. Louis Blues organization, (owner) Tom Stillman and Doug Armstrong are giving me and trusting me in doing...This is going to be a great challenge for me.

— Martin Brodeur, after announcing his retirement as an NHL player and becoming a senior adviser with the Blues on Thursday