SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The American Hockey League has announced defenseman Matt Taormina and forward Yanni Gourde will join Head Coach Benoit Groulx in representing the Syracuse Crunch on the North Division team at the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross, to be held Jan. 29 - 30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Taormina, 30, has appeared in 26 games with the Crunch this season, posting a team-high 30 points (9g, 21a). He also leads the league with most points by a defenseman and tops the Crunch with 13 power-play points (4g, 9a) and 68 shots on goal. The 5-foot-9, 192-pound blueliner is tied with Gourde for the team lead with seven multi-point performances this season, including three three-point nights. The Warren, Michigan native is in his second stint with the Lightning and was signed to a one-year, two-way contract with the team on June 28. This will be Taormina's third consecutive AHL All-Star Classic. He was also selected for the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic, but did not participate.
Gourde, 25, has racked up 26 points in 29 games with the Crunch this season. He leads the team with 10 goals and is second in total points and plus/minus with a plus-12 rating. The 5-foot-9, 172-pound left winger also leads the league with the longest active home points streak, with 18 points (6g, 12a) in 12 games dating back to Oct. 29. Gourde is tied with Taormina for the Crunch lead with seven multi-point games, including one three-point performance. The Saint-Narcisse, Quebec native made his NHL season debut with the Tampa Bay Lightning Dec. 29 and has appeared in two games with the club. He has been with the Lightning organization since the 2013-14 season and signed a one-year, two-way contract on July 25. This will be Gourde's first AHL All-Star appearance.
The 2017 rosters feature 37 first-time AHL All-Stars, 12 rookies and seven former first-round draft choices. In addition, 27 of the All-Stars named have been recalled to the National Hockey League already this season, including standouts Jake Guentzel of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh), Zane McIntyre of the Providence Bruins (Boston), Juuse Saros of the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville) and Brendan Perlini of the Tucson Roadruners (Arizona).
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli, Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx, Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Todd Nelson and Ontario Reign head coach Mike Stothers will serve as coaches for the event.
The 2017 AHL All-Star Skills Competition presented by Giant Food Stores and Velaspan on Jan. 29 (7:30 p.m. ET) will pit the All-Stars from the two Eastern Conference divisions against those from the two Western Conference divisions in seven skills events.
In the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge on Jan. 30 (7 p.m. ET), the four teams will participate in a round-robin tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each, played entirely at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played at 3-on-3.