Omaha, NE – The Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights enjoyed a brief stay in first place in the West Division after two home wins last week. The Knights beat Hamilton and Houston to move into the top spot over the idle Chicago Wolves. They stayed there for 48 hours before the Wolves closed the week with a win to leapfrog over them. Still, the Knights sit just one point out of first place in the division with a record of 37-19-3-1, good for 78 points. They have three games in hand on Chicago.
The Knights also are eight points ahead of third place Milwaukee with one game in hand. They will close out a five-game home stand with a game against Iowa on Wednesday and games against Grand Rapids on Friday and Saturday.
LAST WEEK''S RESULTS:
Wednesday, February 28: Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 3, Hamilton Bulldogs 1
Cam Cunning opened the scoring at 13:03, converting a pass from Kris Chucko for his seventh goal of the year. The Bulldogs answered back 43 seconds later when Andre Benoit finished off an odd-man rush. Warren Peters broke the tie early in the second period when he roofed a shot over goalie Cedric Desjardins at 2:25. Brandon Prust scored a goal with five minutes to go in the third period to provide the final margin. Curtis McElhinney stopped 24 of 25 shots to earn the win.
Friday, March 2: Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 3, Houston Aeros 1
Following a scoreless first period, the Knights jumped on top. Warren Peters raced down the left wing, cut across the slot and fired on goalie Dieter Kochan. The first shot was stopped, but Peters knocked in his own rebound for his 12th goal of the year. Just 1:03 later, the Aeros tied the game when Matt Foy fed Danny Irmen for a shot that beat Curtis McElhinney. With the game still tied at one late in the third period, Dustin Boyd started a two-on-one down the left wing. He fed the puck to Cam Cunning who redirected the puck past Kochan at 16:17. Peters scored a powerplay/empty net goal with 45 seconds remaining to close the scoring. McElhinney finished with 24 saves.
CCM VECTOR/AHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK NOMINATION:
The Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights nominated goaltender Curtis McElhinney as the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week for the week ending March 4, 2007. In two games last week, he went 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage. On Wednesday, McElhinney stopped 24 of 25 shots to backstop the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights to a 3-1 win over Hamilton. On Friday, he again turned away 24 of 25 shots in a 3-1 win over Houston. The native of London, Ontario has now won five straight starts. With the win over Houston, he has tied the franchise record for wins in a season. He ranks third in the AHL in goals-against average (2.14), wins (26) and minutes played (2379). He is tied for second with six shutouts and tied for first with five shootout wins. McElhinney won the award last week.
AK-SAR-BEN KNIGHTS BASICS
POWERPLAY: 50/335, 14.9%
VS. DIV.: 28-14-3-1
PENALTY KILL: 299/347, 86.2%
LAST TEN: 7-3-0-0
OPPONENTS THIS WEEK:
Wednesday, March 7 vs. Iowa Stars (Dallas Stars/Edmonton Oilers)
Tenth of twelve meetings; sixth of six meetings in Omaha
The Ak-Sar-Ben Knights will conclude the home half of their season series with Iowa in the first game of the week. The Knights are 6-3-0-0 against the Stars this season and 3-2-0-0 at home. The two teams last played on February 16th, a 2-1 overtime win for the Knights in Des Moines. The Stars start the week in fifth place in the West Division with a record of 31-26-3-1, good for 66 points. With a record of 20-9-1-0 away from Wells Fargo Arena, the Stars are the third best road team in the Western Conference behind Chicago and the Knights. Vojtech Polak leads the Stars in scoring with 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points. His assist total also leads the team. Junior Lessard is second in scoring with 38 points and leads the team with 19 goals. Goaltender Dan Ellis has appeared in 39 games and has a team high 20 wins. Rookie Tobias Stephan leads the team with a 2.75 GAA and .903 save percentage in 22 games. The Stars do not play before visiting Omaha.
Friday & Saturday, March 9 & 10 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings/Edmonton Oilers)
Third and fourth of four meetings; first and second of two meetings in Omaha
The Knights wrap their four-game season series with the Griffins in the final two games of the week. The two teams haven’t played since a 4-0 Knights’ win on January 12th. Omaha has won the first two meetings this season, both of which were played in Grand Rapids, Michigan. All time, the Knights are 2-3-0-1 against the Griffins and 0-1-0-1 at home. Veteran Kip Miller leads the Griffins in scoring with 18 goals and 39 assists for 57 points. His assist total paces the team. Stephan Liv is 13-12-1 in 27 games in goal for the Griffins this year with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage. The Griffins host Peoria on Tuesday in the make up of a game postponed due to weather before their trip to Omaha.
Center Warren Peters scored three goals in the two games last week. His goal against Hamilton on Wednesday was the game-winner, tying him for second on the team with his fourth game-winning goal. He had two against Houston two nights later.
Left wing Cam Cunning has goals in two straight games.
Center/left wing Brandon Prust has points in three straight games (2-1-3).
With the win on Wednesday against Hamilton, the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights set a new franchise record for wins in a season, surpassing the 35 wins they earned in 2005-06.
With the win against Houston, the Knights set a new franchise record with their 17th home win of the season.
The Knights have scored first in six straight games and have won each game.
The Knights have 28 wins against West Division teams, tying them with Chicago and Manchester for the most by a team against its own division.
The Knights have earned eight wins in four of the first five months of the season.
2/28/07 DELETE Ryan Bonni (D), released from PTO
2/28/07 DELETE Chris Neiszner (C), re-assigned on loan to Las Vegas (ECHL)
For player stats during the 2005-06 season, please visit the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knight's roster page by clicking here.