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AHL Update

LeBlanc learning on the ice, teaching off it

Friday, 11.22.2013 / 1:51 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

For the vast majority of NHL prospects, playing in the American Hockey League is a time to learn.

For Rockford IceHogs center Drew LeBlanc, it's also a time to teach.

Just seven weeks into his rookie season, the 24-year-old has already become a regular at community appearances for the IceHogs, the top development team of the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks. Most recently, he has reached out to begin tutoring students in math at a Rockford-area middle school.

"For me, it's kind of selfish because I like teaching and I like being around kids," LeBlanc said. "Honestly, it was just something that I've wanted to do and be a part of.


Strome working to follow Tavares to Long Island

Friday, 11.15.2013 / 5:00 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

For any young hockey player who recently has turned pro, an established guiding presence is crucial to their developmental success.

Ryan Strome of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League has been fortunate to have received this guidance from one of the best talents in the National Hockey League.

The 20-year-old center hails from Mississauga, Ontario, the same hometown as John Tavares, captain of Bridgeport's NHL parent club, the New York Islanders.

"Growing up I always knew who he was," Strome said. "We actually played in the same minor hockey organization, but he obviously was a bit older. I remember watching him play a little bit."


Age just a number for mature AHL rookie Sissons

Friday, 11.08.2013 / 1:31 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

The long-standing adage that "age is just a number" has a special meaning when it comes to Colton Sissons of the Milwaukee Admirals, who earlier this week turned 20 amidst his rookie season in the American Hockey League.

The 6-foot-1 center has four goals and two assists in the first eight games of his professional career and is tied for second in scoring for the Nashville Predators' top affiliate.

Sissons' immediate on-ice productivity is a direct reflection of a mentality that extends far beyond his years, according to Admirals coach Dean Evason.


After returning from injury, Merrill thriving in AHL

Friday, 11.01.2013 / 12:28 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

For Jon Merrill, patience is a virtue on and off the ice.

In his first full season with the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League, the 21-year-old product of the University of Michigan is exercising his skills on both sides of the puck. He has seven points in nine games this season, which ranks him fourth on the team and first among Albany's defensemen.

"He sees the ice well and he certainly has some patience and composure with the puck," Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. "He's very calm. He reads the refs, he reads pressure, he reads the forecheck well and is very comfortable making plays under pressure with guys on his back."

Merrill, who was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the second round of the 2010 NHL Draft (No. 38), debated turning pro after his sophomore season but opted to remain in Ann Arbor and play for Michigan as a junior.

"I just felt like it was the right decision for myself," Merrill said. "I was happy with the team we had at Michigan and just wanted to give it one more crack."


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.

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Quote of the Day

He scores 50 goals, they go in, they go in, and they go in. And I think, 'Why can't I do that?'

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on teammate Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 50th goal of the season Tuesday in a 4-2 win vs. the Hurricanes