Omaha, NE – The Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights closed to within three points of the Chicago Wolves for first place in the West Division after winning all four games of a grueling road trip last week. The Knights finished the week with two wins over Chicago after beating Peoria and Milwaukee earlier in the week.
The Knights begin a five-game home stand on Wednesday when they host Hamilton for the final time this season. They’ll welcome Houston on Friday to finish the week. The Knights have a record of 35-19-3-1, good for 74 points. In addition to being just three points behind the Wolves, the Knights have three games in hand. The Knights also are six points ahead of third place Milwaukee and have two games in hand.
LAST WEEK''S RESULTS:
Wednesday, February 21: Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 4, Peoria Rivermen 3 SO
Omaha’s Chris Lee opened the scoring when he scored on a four-on-three powerplay in the first period. The Rivermen got goals from Ryan Ramsay and Charles Linglet in the second to lead 2-1 after two. Dustin Boyd then tallied a pair of powerplay goals in the third to put the Knights back in front by one. But with less than 30 seconds to go in regulation, Trent Whitfield tied the game, sending it to overtime and then the shootout. In the shootout, newly acquired defenseman Brett Skinner scored to answer a goal by Mike Glumac. In round six, Curtis McElhinney stopped Jon DiSalvatore and Boyd clinched the win with a shot past Chris Beckford-Tseu. McElhinney made 32 saves to earn the win.
Friday, February 23: Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 1, Milwaukee Admirals 0
The Knights got the only goal they would need at 14:02 of the first period when Carsen Germyn took a pass from Dustin Boyd and beat goalie Pekka Rinne. Milwaukee had a penalty shot in the second period, but Curtis McElhinney stopped Preston Mizzi to keep the Admirals off the board. McElhinney finished with 33 saves.
Saturday, February 24: Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 2, Chicago Wolves 0
Authoring his second shutout in as many days, Curtis McElhinney blunted all 29 Chicago shots. The Knights broke a scoreless tie at 3:46 of the second period when Derek Couture finished off a pass from Tomi Maki for his third goal of the year. David Van der Gulik added an empty-net powerplay goal in the final minute of the third.
Sunday, February 25: Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 4, Chicago Wolves 2
The Knights used the powerplay to build a 2-0 lead after one. Brandon Prust lofted a shot over goalie Fred Brathwaite at 10:44, and Carsen Germyn slipped one underneath the Chicago netminder in the last minute of the period. Defenseman Brett Skinner assisted on both. The Wolves got a goal from Jared Ross halfway through the second period to stop the Wolves scoreless streak against the Knights. Dustin Boyd would get the goal back on a powerplay late in the second to put the Knights up 3-1 after two. Boyd tallied again at 8:55 of the third period to make it 4-1. The AHL’s leading scorer, Darren Haydar, tallied a powerplay goal late for the final score. Brent Krahn stopped 27 shots to earn his eleventh win of the year.
McELHINNEY NAMED CCM VECTOR/AHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
For the second time this season, the American Hockey League has named Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights’ goaltender Curtis McElhinney the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending February 25, 2007. McElhinney won all three starts last week and posted two shutouts to move the club to within three points of the top spot in the AHL's West Division. McElhinney received the same honor in December. On Wednesday, McElhinney stopped 32 of 35 shots and then stopped five of six shooters in the shootout as the Knights beat the Peoria Rivermen, 4-3, ending a 13-game skid against Peoria. The shootout win tied his for the league lead. On Friday, he stopped all 33 shots in a 1-0 win at Milwaukee. He followed that up with another whitewash, stopping all 29 shots in a 2-0 win at Chicago. That shutout set a new franchise record for team shutouts in a season (7). It is the second time this season that McElhinney has authored shutouts in consecutive games. He is now tied for second in the AHL in shutouts (6). For the week, McElhinney stopped 94 of 97 shots to post a 0.97 goals-against average, a .969 save percentage.
AK-SAR-BEN KNIGHTS BASICS
POWERPLAY: 49/330, 14.8%
VS. DIV.: 27-14-3-1
PENALTY KILL: 294/342, 86.0%
LAST TEN: 6-4-0-0
OPPONENTS THIS WEEK:
Wednesday, February 28 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens/Edmonton Oilers)
Fourth of four meetings; second of two meetings in Omaha
The Ak-Sar-Ben Knights finish their season series with the Bulldogs in the first game of their five game home stand. The Knights won the last meeting with Hamilton 3-1 on January 16th after dropping the first two meetings in Hamilton, Ontario. The Knights are 4-3-0-0 all time against the Bulldogs and 3-0-0-0 versus them at home. Hamilton is in third place in the North Division with a record of 34-20-2-3. The Bulldogs are 14-11-1-2 on the road this season. Duncan Milroy and Andrei Kostitsyn are tied for the team lead with 52 points each. Kostitsyn is currently on recall to Montreal. Milroy has a team best 23 goals. Yann Danis has earned a team high 17 wins for the Bulldogs in goal. He sports a 2.94 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. The Bulldogs do not play before visiting Omaha.
Friday, March 2 vs. Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild)
Eighth of ten meetings; fourth of five meetings in Omaha
The Knights welcome the Aeros for the fourth time this season. The Knights are 6-0-0-1 against the Aeros, but that record only speaks to the final outcome. The series has been very close with the last five meetings settled by just one goal and four of those games going to a shootout. The Knights are 3-0-0-0 against Houston at home this year. All time, the Knights are 9-3-1-4 against Houston. The Aeros haven’t won in Omaha since October 20, 2005, a 4-3 shootout win. Houston begins the week in seventh place in the West Division with a record of 21-28-3-6, good for 51 points. The Aeros are 9-14-2-2 on the road this year. Matt Foy leads the Aeros in scoring with a team high 23 goals and 42 points. Curtis Murphy is second in scoring with 31 points including a team-leading 25 assists. Miroslav Kopriva and Dieter Kochan currently share the goaltending duties. The Aeros will start a five-game road trip in Milwaukee before coming to Omaha.
Right wing Carsen Germyn tied a franchise record with four points in one game. He figured into the scoring of each goal in the Knights’ 4-2 win at Chicago on Sunday (1 goal, 3 assists).
With two goals on Sunday, rookie Dustin Boyd tied the Knights’ franchise record for goals by a rookie in one season. Dave Moss set the standard last season when he scored 21 goals in 63 games for the Knights.
The Knights equaled their win total from their inaugural season with their victory on Sunday at Chicago. Their 35th win in 2006-07 came in their 58th game. The Knights also have set a new franchise record for road wins, earning their 20th in Chicago on Sunday.
With the penalty shot faced by Curtis McElhinney on Friday in Milwaukee, the Knights have now faced three penalty shots in their history and stopped them all. It was McElhinney’s first pro penalty shot.
For player stats during the 2005-06 season, please visit the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knight's roster page by clicking here.