Omaha, NE – As second acts go, the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights authored a good one. Omaha’s professional hockey team, in its second year in the American Hockey League, won the West Division and Western Conference Regular Season Championships by posting a record of 49-25-5-1 and made its first appearance in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Once again under the guidance of head coach Ryan McGill and assistant coach Scott Allen, the Knights were the AHL’s second best defensive team, finishing second in both goals against and penalty killing. Along the way, they set a remarkable 32 new franchise team and player records. They did it all with sixteen first or second year players in their line-up on opening night.
More importantly, the Knights ably served their role as a development team for their National Hockey League affiliate, the Calgary Flames. The Knights provided nine players to the Flames at different times during the season including their first mid-season graduate.
“The Calgary Flames are committed to building their future teams through the development of players in the American Hockey League and as coaches, our mission is to make sure our players are prepared to make that next step to the National Hockey League,” said McGill.
“We had many of our rookies and second year players make great strides during the season, and their continuing improvement is critical to the success of the organization.
“From the very beginning, we have established a hard working identity that our players have bought into,” McGill added. “We have a solid nucleus of players. Many of them will be second or third year pros next season. That will be a tremendous advantage as we add new players into that mix and build our team for the 2007-2008 season.”
Among those players who could return to Omaha next year include goaltender Curtis McElhinney, defensemen Adam Pardy, Brett Palin, Tim Ramholt, Tim Hambly, Richie Regehr and Steve Marr and forwards Cam Cunning, Dustin Boyd, Tomi Maki, Carsen Germyn, Eric Nystrom, Andrei Taratukhin, Derek Couture, Warren Peters, David Van der Gulik, Kris Chucko and Brandon Prust.
In addition, the Flames have several draft picks who will be playing their first full seasons of professional hockey in 2007-2008. Those players already signed include forward Daniel Ryder, the MVP of the OHL Playoffs in 2006 with Peterborough and the second leading scorer for Plymouth this season (92 pts), J.D. Watt, who led the Vancouver Giants of the WHL in goals (34) this season and will play for the host team in the 2007 Memorial Cup, and goaltender Kevin Lalande who led Belleville of the OHL in games played (48), wins (27) and goals-against average (3.01).
The Ak-Sar-Ben Knights will begin their third season of AHL play in October of 2007. The full season schedule will be released by the league in late July.
2006-2007 AK-SAR-BEN KNIGHTS REGULAR SEASON BASICS:
POWERPLAY: 67/446, 15.0%, AHL Rank-22nd
PENALTY KILL: 380/437, 87.0%, AHL Rank-2nd
GOALS FOR: 214, 2.68/GM AVG, AHL Rank-24th
VS. WEST DIV.: 38-18-5-1
GOALS AGAINST: 189, 2.36/GM AVG, AHL Rank-2nd
The Ak-Sar-Ben Knights set new franchise records for most wins, fewest losses and goals for and against in the second AHL season. In so doing, they again ranked among the top teams in the league in team defense. That prowess led them to the West Division and Western Conference Regular Season Championships and their first ever berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs. The Knights lost to Iowa four games to two in the West Division Semifinals.
AT THE BOX OFFICE:
The Ak-Sar-Ben Knights saw an increase in attendance during their second season of play in the AHL. The Knights drew 141,730 fans to the Omaha Civic Auditorium for 40 regular season home games, an increase of more than eight percent from their inaugural season total. They welcomed an additional 13,863 fans for three home playoff games. In fact, their playoff attendance average ranked fourth best in the AHL through the first round.
LEADING THE WAY:
Three players tied for the team lead in scoring during the 2006-07 season. Carsen Germyn, Andrei Taratukhin and Dustin Boyd all finished the season with 60 points. For the second straight season, Germyn led the team in goals, finishing with a career and franchise high 28. Taratukhin had a team-leading 43 assists, also a franchise record for assists in a season. Boyd set franchise rookie records for goals (27), assists (33) and points by a rookie. Germyn led the Knights with nine game-winning goals while Boyd led the team with 15 powerplay goals. Taratukhin led the team with five shootout winning goals. Rookie David Van der Gulik led the team and set a new franchise record with four shorthanded goals. He also finished with a franchise record +27 plus/minus rating. Taratukhin, Van der Gulik and rookie Kris Chucko were the only Knights to play in all 80 games. For the second year, Brandon Prust led the Knights with 211 penalty minutes. Goaltender Curtis McElhinney tied a team record with 57 appearances this season including a team record 16 straight from January to February. The second-year netminder finished with a franchise record 35 wins, a 2.13 goals-against average, a .917 save percentage and seven shutouts.
Brad Ference led the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights’ defensive corps in scoring this year with 26 points. That put him eighth in team scoring. His 23 assists were also the top mark among the blueliners. Brett Skinner led all defenseman with six goals, although he earned all of them prior to his assignment from the Portland Pirates. Richie Regehr scored five goals for the Knights in just 22 games. Chris Lee had four goals in 32 games after being recalled from the ECHL.
2006-2007 TRANSACTIONS AND PLAYER MOVEMENT:
The Ak-Sar-Ben Knights used 32 players this season, the fewest players used by any of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League and a new franchise low. There were 84 transactions between the start of the season and the end of the Knights’ Calder Cup Playoff run on April 28, 2007. December was the busiest month for transactions with 32. January was close behind with 27. March was easily the quietest month with just one transaction registered during that time. Nine players who began the season for the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights players appeared in action for the Knights’ NHL affiliate, the Calgary Flames, totaling 91 games played.
Left wing David Moss led the way with 41 games played. In fact, Moss became the second Ak-Sar-Ben Knight to graduate to the big club following Mark Giordano who earned a spot with the Flames out of training camp. Giordano played in 48 games for Calgary and another five regular season games for the Knights. Eric Godard (19 GP), Dustin Boyd (13 GP), Brandon Prust (10 GP), Richie Regehr (6 GP), Brad Ference (5 GP), Carsen Germyn (2 GP) and Tomi Maki (1 GP) also suited up for the Flames. Moss, Boyd, Prust and Maki all made their NHL debuts this season. In addition, goaltender Brent Krahn was recalled by Calgary during the playoffs and served as a back-up to Miikka Kiprusoff for game six of the Flames’ series with Detroit.
AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS:
Right wing Carsen Germyn’s game-winning goal total (9) tied him with Manitoba’s Jason Jaffray for the AHL lead in that category. Goalies Curtis McElhinney and Brent Krahn both ranked in the top ten in goals-against average in the AHL. McElhinney was second (2.13) while Krahn was tied for tenth (2.42). McElhinney was third in wins (35), fourth in minutes played (3,181), first in shootout wins (7) and tied with Manchester’s Jason LaBarbera for first in shutouts (7). Forward Brandon Prust tied for third in the AHL with 23 major penalties while defenseman Brad Ference was tied for fourth with 60 minors and was fourth among defensemen in penalty minutes (210). Forward David Van der Gulik’s plus/minus rating (+27) was fourth in the AHL and first among rookies. Dustin Boyd finished seventh in AHL rookie points (60) and tied for third in rookie powerplay goals (15).
THE RECORD BOOK:
The Ak-Sar-Ben Knights rewrote their own record book several times over during season number two. Their 49 wins and 25 regulation losses were both franchise records. With 104 points, the Knights beat their old mark by 20 points. They tied an AHL record with 27 road wins. They also earned a team best 22 home wins. In addition, they won a team high 8 shootout games, five more than their inaugural season. They set team records for most goals for (214) and fewest goals against (189).
The Knights had a franchise record 12 shorthanded goals while allowing a franchise low five shorthanded tallies, none of which came on the road. The Knights shut out opponents nine times, another new team record. On the negative side, they were shut out a franchise record eight times. The Knights posted a franchise best save percentage on the penalty kill (87.0%) while scoring on the powerplay a team low 15.0%.
The Knights established a new team record by winning eight straight games from October 7 – October 28, 2006, six straight home games from January 10 – January 24, 2007 and eight straight road games from February 16 – March 25, 2007.
Among the team individual game records set:
Most goals/game: 10 March 24, 2007 @ Houston
Most goals/period: 6 March 24, 2007 @ Houston
Most goals against/game: 9 December 15, 2006 @ Chicago
Most goals against/period: 6 December 15, 2006 @ Chicago
Largest Margin of Victory: 8 March 24, 2007 @ Houston
Largest Margin of Defeat: 8 December 15, 2006 @ Chicago
Powerplay goals/game: 5 March 24, 2007 @ Houston
Powerplay goals/period: 4 March 24, 2007 @ Houston
Quickest first goal: 0:19 March 24, 2007 @ Houston
Quickest three goals: 2:42 March 24, 2007 @ Houston
Most penalty minutes/game: 54 February 14, 2007 @ Manitoba
Most penalty minutes/combined: 104 February 14, 2007 @ Manitoba
Longest shootout: 13 rounds December 9, 2006 @ Houston
Among the player records set:
Points/period: 3 Andrei Taratukhin, Brad Ference March 24, 2007 @ Houston
Quickest two goals: 0:24 Carsen Germyn March 17, 2007 vs. Peoria
Point-scoring streak: 8 Andrei Taratukhin January 4, 2007 to January 20, 2007
Consecutive appearances: 16 Curtis McElhinney December 31, 2006 to February 8, 2007
Consecutive wins: 7 Curtis McElhinney January 10, 2007 to January 24, 2007
Shutout streak: 165:57 Curtis McElhinney December 1, 2006 to December 9, 2006
2007 RBK HOCKEY/AHL ALL-STAR CLASSIC AT TORONTO, ONTARIO:
The Ak-Sar-Ben Knights had three players selected to play in the 2007 Rbk Hockey/AHL All-Star Classic in Toronto, Ontario January 28th and 29th. Defenseman Richie Regehr, goaltender Curtis McElhinney and forward Dustin Boyd were all chosen although Regehr could not take part because of injury. McElhinney played the third period and allowed three goals on 17 shots.
2006-2007 AWARDS AND HONORS:
Goaltender Curtis McElhinney was well honored during his second season in the AHL. He was twice recognized as the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week, earning the nod on December 11th and February 26th. In April, he received two more honors. He was named to the AHL’s Second All-Star Team and was recognized as the Rbk X-Pulse/Goaltender of the Month for April after posting a record of 6-1-0 with a 1.26 goals-against average, a .940 save percentage and one shutout. In addition, defenseman Tim Hambly was named the team’s winner of the American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year for his community service on behalf of the Knights.
INDIVIDUAL REGULAR SEASON MILESTONES:
First professional goal
Dustin Boyd October 7, 2006 @ Milwaukee
Brett Palin October 7, 2006 @ Milwaukee
Ryan Donally October 7, 2006 @ Milwaukee
David Van der Gulik October 7, 2006 @ Milwaukee
Kris Chucko October 14, 2006 @ Grand Rapids
Tim Ramholt November 9, 2006 @ Toronto
First AHL goal
Adam Pardy November 24, 2006 @ Peoria
Aki Seitsonen January 5, 2007 vs. Chicago
Chris Lee February 12, 2007 @ Manitoba
Steve Marr March 24, 2007 @ Houston
First NHL game played
Dustin Boyd November 1, 2006 @ Detroit Red Wings
Brandon Prust November 1, 2006 @ Detroit Red Wings
Tomi Maki December 12, 2006 vs. Minnesota Wild
David Moss December 19, 2006 @ Los Angeles Kings
First NHL Goal
Mark Giordano October 14, 2006 @ Toronto Maple Leafs (Two goals)
David Moss December 19, 2006 @ Los Angeles Kings (Game winner)
Richie Regehr December 19, 2006 @ Los Angeles Kings
Dustin Boyd January 6, 2007 vs. Dallas Stars
250th AHL game played
Eric Godard October 28, 2006 @ Milwaukee Admirals
Carsen Germyn February 8, 2007 @ Houston Aeros
200th AHL game played
Brad Ference December 29, 2006 vs. Iowa Stars
Warren Peters March 24, 2007 @ Houston Aeros
100th AHL game played
Tomi Maki December 7, 2006 @ Houston Aeros
Brandon Prust December 29, 2006 vs. Iowa Stars
Brett Palin January 10, 2007 vs. Toronto Marlies
Derek Couture February 17, 2007 vs. Peoria Rivermen
Tim Hambly March 17, 2007 vs. Peoria Rivermen
200th AHL Win
Ryan McGill March 10, 2007 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins
2007 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
West Division Semifinal—Series “G”, W1 Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights vs. W4 Iowa Stars
Game 1 – Fri., April 20 – Iowa at Omaha, 7:00 p.m.
Game 2 – Sat., April 21 – Iowa at Omaha, 7:00 p.m.
Game 3 – Mon., April 23 – Omaha at Iowa, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 – Wed., April 25 – Omaha at Iowa, 7:05 p.m.
*Game 5 – Fri., April 27 – Iowa at Omaha, 7:00 p.m.
*Game 6 – Sat., April 28 – Omaha at Iowa, 7:05 p.m.
*Game 7 – Tue., May 1 – Iowa at Omaha, 7:00 p.m.
Season Series vs. Iowa: 8-4-0-0 Home: 3-3-0-0 Road: 5-1-0-0
The Ak-Sar-Ben Knights will make their first foray into the Calder Cup Playoffs against their nearest rivals, the Iowa Stars, in a best-of-seven series starting Friday, April 20th in Omaha. The Ak-Sar-Ben Knights played the Stars 12 times during the 2006-07 season, the most they faced any opponent. Including the pre-season, the two teams have squared off 14 times this year. The Knights were 8-4-0-0 against the Stars this season. Five of the eight wins came at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA. All time, the Knights are 13-7-1-1 against the Stars including a record of 9-2-0-0 on the road. Carsen Germyn led the Knights in scoring against the Stars this season with five goals and five assists for ten points in twelve games. Both Knights’ goalies earned four wins against the Stars this season. Curtis McElhinney was 4-1-0 in five appearances with a 1.20 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage in head-to-head play. Brent Krahn was 4-3-0 in seven appearances with a 2.28 goals-against and a .917 save percentage. Krahn is 7-1-0-0 lifetime at Wells Fargo Arena. He has posted a 1.27 goals-against average, a .954 save percentage and two shutouts.
The Stars finished in fourth place in the West Division with a record of 42-34-3-1, good for 88 points. The Stars posted a record of 16-21-2-1 at home and a mark of 26-13-1-0 on the road. Theirs was the third highest road win total in the league behind the Knights and Chicago who finished with 27. Junior Lessard led the Stars in scoring this season with 27 goals and 25 assists for 52 points. His goal total also paced the team. Vojtech Polak ranked second with 17 goals and 28 assists for 45 points. Defenseman Mark Ardelan led the team with 30 assists. He finished fourth overall in scoring with 38 points. Dan Ellis led the Stars’ goaltending corps with a record of 30-21-1, a 2.78 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage in 55 appearances. Lessard was the Stars’ leading scorer against the Knights this season. He had four goals and three assists for seven points in eight games. Ellis appeared in eight games against the Knights, posting a record of 2-4-1, a 2.39 goals-against and a .903 save percentage. Rookie Tobias Stephan was 2-3-0 in six games against the Knights. He had a 1.88 goals-against and a .927 save percentage in head-to-head play. This is the Stars’ second appearance in the Calder Cup Finals. In their inaugural season of 2005-06, they lost a first round series to eventual Western Conference Playoff Champion Milwaukee in seven games.
Goaltender Curtis McElhinney set nine Ak-Sar-Ben Knights’ goaltending records during the 2006-07 season including wins (35), shutouts (7), goals-against average (2.13), save percentage (.917), total goals against (113), shootout wins (8), consecutive appearances (16), consecutive wins (7) and shutout streak (165:57). He also tied the franchise record for appearances in a season (57).
Three Knights’ players finished tied for the team lead in points (60). Along the way, Carsen Germyn set a new team standard for goals in a season (28) while Andrei Taratukhin set a new team record for assists in a season (43). Dustin Boyd set new team records for goals (27), assists (33) and points (60) by a rookie.
Germyn tied for the AHL lead with nine game winning goals.
Rookie David Van der Gulik finished with a franchise record +27 plus/minus rating. He ranked fourth best among all AHL players.
The Knights tied an AHL record with 27 road wins this season.
The Knights finished with the top road penalty kill in the AHL (89.2%).
The Knights finished tied for first in the AHL in shootout wins (8).