Providence, RI –
The Providence Bruins, member of the American Hockey League, announced today that goaltender Tuukka Rask
and defenseman Matt Lashoff have been named starters for the PlanetUSA Team in the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Reebok. They join left wing Pascal Pelletier, who was named a starter for the Canadian Team yesterday. The game will take place on Monday, January 28 at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, New York, one evening after the 2008 CCM AHL All-Star Skills Competition. Both events begin at 7 p.m.
The team comprises 24 players, including 13 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders, all born outside of Canada. AHL fans determined the starting lineup via on-line balloting at www.theahl.com, while a committee of AHL coaches selected the remainder of the roster. All 29 AHL teams are represented by at least one All-Star.
Rask, 20, is off to a 16-4-1 start in his first professional season, including a 2-1-1 record for the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League, to go along with a 3.26 goals-against-average and .886 save percentage in four NHL contests. The net-minder is currently riding a five-game winning-streak, with all of the wins having come on the road. Rask is 14-3-0 at the AHL level in 17 games played, his wins total tied for fifth among the league’s best. His 2.04 GAA ranks third in the AHL and he also sports a .907 save percent. Rask made his NHL debut for Boston November 20, 2007 on the road against the team that drafted him, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs with 30 saves and only two goals allowed. Prior to turning pro, the native of Savonlinna, Finland, played three seasons in the Finnish Elite League with Ilves Tampere, where he went 30-27-18 with a 2.36 GAA and .924 save percentage in 83 games. While playing for Team Finland in the 2006 World Junior Championships last year, the goalie posted a 2.11 GAA and a .940 save percentage en route to winning Top Goalie honors. Boston acquired Rask from Toronto on June 24, 2006 in exchange for fellow goalie Andrew Raycroft. He was drafted by the Maple Leafs 21st overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The all-star appearance will be the first of his pro career.
Lashoff, 21, is in his third professional season and second full year, all in the Bruins’ organization. The defenseman is slated to make his second straight all-star appearance after being named a PlanetUSA replacement starter last year, where he finished with a plus-two rating. Presently, Lashoff is with Boston, where he has been since his December 21, 2007 recall. Prior to his call-up, Lashoff amassed four goals, 16 assists and 20 points, along with a plus-nine rating, in 28 games for Providence. The East Greenbush, New York, native has two points in nine NHL games overall, including his first career NHL goal on December 31, 2007 against the Atlanta Thrashers at the TD Banknorth Garden. In Lashoff’s NHL career, he has one goal and three assists in 21 contests. As an rookie a year ago, in addition to being an All-Star, the blue-liner was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team and was honored as the P-Bruins’ Dunkin’ Donuts Best Defenseman. Prior to being drafted by Boston 22nd overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Lashoff spent three years in the Ontario Hockey League with the Kitchener Rangers.
Joining Rask and Lashoff as starters for the PlanetUSA squad include forwards Bobby Ryan of the Portland Pirates, Brett Sterling of the Chicago Wolves and the Syracuse Crunch’s Joakim Lindstrom. Lashoff’s defensive partner will be the Houston Aeros’ Erik Reitz.
The rest of the PlanetUSA team’s forwards include former P-Bruin Keith Aucoin, now with the Albany River Rats, Gabe Gauthier of the Manchester Monarchs, T.J. Hensick of the first-year Lake Erie Monsters, the Hartford Wolf Pack’s Greg Moore, Joe Motzko of the Hershey Bears, Toby Petersen of the Iowa Stars, the Philadelphia Phantoms’ Jared Ross, Rob Schremp of the Springfield Falcons, Jeff Taffe of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Lowell Devils’ Petr Vrana. The additional defensemen will be Manchester’s Peter Harrold, Jonathan Ericsson of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Brian Lee of the host Binghamton Senators, Portland’s Brian Salcido, Anton Stralman of the Toronto Marlies and Syracuse’s Clay Wilson. Backing up Rask in net will be Pekka Rinne of the Milwaukee Admirals and Grand Rapids’ Jimmy Howard.
The PlanetUSA coaching staff will come from the AHL team with the best points-percentage at the end of play this Sunday. The P-Bruins (.824) currently lead Toronto (.771) for that honor.
Providence, the top team in the AHL with a record of 29-5-2-1 and 61 points, returns home to the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Friday to host the Worcester Sharks at 7:05 p.m. On Saturday, the P-Bruins travel to the Cumberland County Civic Center for a 7:05 p.m. tilt with Portland. Providence then wraps up the weekend Sunday, welcoming Springfield to Rhode Island at 4:05 p.m.