SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today the Canadian AHL All-Star team roster for the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Reebok, to be played later this month at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, N.Y.
The team comprises 24 players – 13 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders – born in Canada. AHL fans determined the starting lineup via on-line balloting at theahl.com, while a committee of AHL coaches selected the remainder of the roster.
Among the members of the Canadian team are 15 first-time AHL All-Stars, including the AHL’s top two scorers in Jason Krog of Chicago and Teddy Purcell of Manchester and leading goal-scorer Pascal Pelletier of Providence. The team also features former first-round draft picks Cam Barker of Rockford, Derick Brassard of Syracuse and Jeff Tambellini of Bridgeport.
Binghamton Senators forward Denis Hamel was selected to captain the Canadian team, his third career AHL All-Star Classic appearance. And because he led Hamilton to the Calder Cup championship in 2007, Don Lever will serve as the head coach for the Canadian AHL All-Stars.
The PlanetUSA AHL All-Star team roster will be announced on Thursday.
Of the 427 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 93 percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Boyes, Daniel Briere, Zdeno Chara, Jonathan Cheechoo, Pavol Demitra, Rick DiPietro, Patrik Elias, Ray Emery, Jiri Hudler, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Steve Sullivan.
The 2008 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Reebok will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League competing in the 2008 CCM AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 27 (7:00 ET), and the 2008 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, January 28 (7:00 ET). The event will be televised nationally in the United States and Canada.
2008 Canadian AHL All-Star Team Starters
Michael Leighton, Goaltender (Albany River Rats)
Making his second AHL All-Star Classic appearance, Michael Leighton has consistently ranked among the league’s goaltending leaders in 2007-08, currently ranking fifth in goals-against average (2.14), second in save percentage (.928) and fourth in minutes played (1,740) while collecting 13 wins and a league-high five shutouts in 30 games. A member of the AHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2001-02, Leighton has played in 50 career NHL games and is 1-1-0 with a 2.03 GAA in two games for Carolina this year.
Cam Barker, Defense (Rockford IceHogs):
Selected by Chicago third overall in the 2004 NHL draft behind only Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, Barker leads all IceHogs defensemen and ranks third among AHL blueliners with eight goals while adding 11 assists for 19 points in 29 games this season. The 21-year-old Winnipeg native notched his first career two-goal game on Nov. 24 against the Chicago Wolves and earned his first recall of the season to the parent Blackhawks on Dec. 20, where he has posted a goal and an assist in eight contests to date.
Lawrence Nycholat, Defense (Binghamton Senators):
Making his third appearance in an AHL All-Star Classic and his second as a starter, Lawrence Nycholat is tied for fourth among AHL defensemen with 25 points in 35 games this season. A 2006 Calder Cup champion with Hershey, Nycholat notched his 50th career AHL goal on Jan. 5 at Manchester and stands at 249 points in 441 career AHL games. The Calgary native has skated in 31 career NHL contests with Ottawa, Washington and the N.Y. Rangers, picking up two goals and six assists for eight points.
Pascal Pelletier, Forward (Providence Bruins):
In his third season with Providence, Pascal Pelletier has already established an AHL career high with his league-leading 23 goals and ranks fourth in the league with 45 points in 37 games, helping the Bruins to the best record in the AHL. The 24-year-old from Labrador City, Nfld., has already compiled scoring streaks of nine, six and eight (current) games this season, and also places among the AHL’s leaders with a plus-19 rating on the year.
Teddy Purcell, Forward (Manchester Monarchs):
One of the most prolific newcomers in the AHL this season, Teddy Purcell ranks first among rookies and second in the entire league with 35 assists and 47 points in 36 games for Manchester in his first year out of the University of Maine. Purcell, a 22-year-old native of St. John’s, Nfld., was the Rbk Edge/AHL Rookie of the Month for November, when he tallied 17 points in 12 games for the Monarchs.
Martin St. Pierre, Forward (Rockford IceHogs):
Currently third in the AHL with 33 assists and 46 points in 34 games for Rockford, Martin St. Pierre is the catalyst for one of the league’s top-ranked offenses. His 15-game scoring streak from Nov. 30 to Jan. 4 was the longest of the season in the AHL, and his five points (2g, 3a) in a Nov. 11 win over San Antonio were a career high, helping him to CCM/AHL Player of the Month honors for November. St. Pierre, a First Team AHL All-Star in 2006-07, will be making his third consecutive AHL All-Star Classic appearance.