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AHL Update

Return to AHL not keeping Blues' Allen down

Friday, 01.31.2014 / 2:11 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

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.

History helping Kings prospects learn in the present

Friday, 01.17.2014 / 2:00 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

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."

Chaput working to get back to NHL

Friday, 01.03.2014 / 1:56 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

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.

Wild ride for Rochester's Ruhwedel includes outdoors

Friday, 12.13.2013 / 2:20 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

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."

Hartford's Kristo embraces leadership role as rookie

Friday, 12.06.2013 / 12:38 PM / AHL Update

Alyssa Dombrowski - Special to

With the occupation of a professional athlete comes the lifestyle, and with the lifestyle comes the realization that the place one calls "home" is subject to change at any given moment.

For Danny Kristo of the American Hockey League's Hartford Wolf Pack, that realization came this past summer when he was traded by the Montreal Canadiens to the New York Rangers in the midst of preparing for his first NHL training camp.

"I don't know what really took place, but I heard a bunch of rumors around draft time that I was maybe going to get traded, so I knew that it was a possibility," Kristo said. "It ended up not happening at the draft, but then two days later I got traded to New York."

Canadiens' Andrighetto working hard to reach NHL

Friday, 11.29.2013 / 2:10 AM / AHL Update

Hamilton Bulldogs forward Sven Andrighetto hails from Zurich, Switzerland, but his goal has been to play in the National Hockey League since as far back as he can remember.

"As soon as I knew the NHL existed, I wanted to play there," said Andrighetto, who was a third-round pick (No. 86) by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2013 NHL Draft. "It's the best League in the world, obviously. I want to be a part of that. I want to be one of the best players in the world. It's everyone's dream."

And the kid is all-in to make that dream a reality. They're hockey cliches, but Andrighetto, 20, repeats his mantras with authority: work hard, be ready to learn, get better every day.

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."

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