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AHL Roundup: Atkinson on tear, Gardiner heating up

by Corey Masisak

Each Monday, will take a look back at the weekend that was in the American Hockey League with an emphasis on the young stars and top prospects that are continuing their development. Here are some of the highlights from the past few days in the AHL:



Cam Atkinson, Springfield

Atkinson had two goals in the final 4:06 of the third period to help the Falcons past St. John's. He also had two assists in the 5-3 victory, and is tied for the team lead with 25 points in 22 games. It was the second four-point game of the season for Atkinson, a sixth-round pick by Columbus in the 2008 NHL Draft. He has nine goals in the past 10 games and 13 tallies on the season, which is tied for second in the AHL. Atkinson had back-to-back 30-goal campaigns for Boston College before netting 36 between Springfield and Columbus in 2011-12 -- his first season as a professional.


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Patrick Wiercioch, Binghamton

Wiercioch had two goals and an assist as the Senators routed Portland in a contest that featured 110 penalty minutes, including 82 in the final 12 minutes. The Binghamton defenseman, a second-round pick by Ottawa in 2008 who spent two seasons at the University of Denver, helped the Senators take advantage of Portland's discipline issues with a goal and an assist on the power play just 2:24 apart in the third period. Wiercioch has seven goals, which is tied for second on the team, in 19 games this season. Binghamton goalie Ben Bishop (trade from St. Louis in 2012) stopped 40 of 41 shots for his fifth straight victory.


Connor Knapp, Rochester

Knapp stopped 41 of 42 shots for the Americans to earn his first professional victory against Adirondack. A sixth-round pick by Buffalo in 2009, Knapp is in his first season with Rochester after four years at Miami (Ohio) University. Knapp started just two games for the Americans before getting back-to-back starts this weekend. He now has a 3.05 goals-against average and .905 save percentage this season.

NOTES: Ben Smith (Chicago, sixth round in 2008) had two goals and an assist for Rockford in a win against Milwaukee. Smith leads the IceHogs with 10 goals in 25 games. … Drayson Bowman (Carolina, third round in 2007) had a goal, his team-leading 13th, and an assist to help Charlotte defeat Lake Erie. … Niklas Svedberg (Boston, signed as free agent in 2012) turned aside 28 of 30 shots for Providence in a win against Manchester. … Eric Tangradi (Pittsburgh, trade from Anaheim in 2009) had a goal and an assist for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in a loss to Hershey. … Brett Connolly (Tampa Bay, first round in 2010) had a goal and an assist to help Syracuse beat Hamilton. … Landon Ferraro (Detroit, second round in 2009) had two assists in a Grand Rapids victory against Chicago. … Jason Zucker (Minnesota, second round in 2010) scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season in overtime to help Houston knock off Texas.



Jake Gardiner, Toronto

Gardiner had a pair of power-play goals and an assist for the Marlies in a win against Rochester. He had seven goals and 30 points as a rookie for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, but Gardiner has been one of the top offensive defensemen in the AHL to this point. His nine goals on the season are second behind Oklahoma City's Justin Schultz at the position, and he leads the Marlies. Nazem Kadri, Toronto's first-round choice in 2009, had a goal and two assists in the game and has 21 points in 21 contests.


Brandon Kozun, Manchester

Kozun had two goals and an assist to lead the Monarchs in a rout of Connecticut. Kozun, a sixth-round pick in the 2009 by Los Angeles, has seven goals and leads Manchester with 20 points this season. He's had at least 20 goals and 46 points in each of the past two seasons with the Monarchs while waiting for a chance in Los Angeles. Andrei Loktionov, a fifth-round choice by Los Angeles in 2008, had a goal and two assists in the contest.


Brayden Schenn, Adirondack

Schenn had a pair of goals for the Phantoms in a 4-3 win against Syracuse. He leads Adirondack with 11 goals and 26 points in 23 games after having nine points in 11 Stanley Cup Playoffs games for Philadelphia at the end of last season. Another young center from Philadelphia, Sean Couturier, had two assists for Adirondack.

NOTES: Ryan Johansen (Columbus, first round in 2010) had a goal and an assist for Springfield in a win against St. John's. … Alex Stalock (San Jose, fourth round in 2005) made 28 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss for Worcester against Providence. … Frederick Andersen (Anaheim, third round in 2012) turned aside 39 of 40 shots in a win for Norfolk at Binghamton. … Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Phoenix, first round in 2009) had a goal and an assist for Portland in a win against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Beau Bennett (Pittsburgh, first round in 2010) had two assists in the loss for the Penguins. … Reilly Smith (Dallas, third round in 2009) had two goals for Texas in a win against Peoria.



Brock Nelson, Bridgeport

Nelson had a goal and two assists as the Sound Tigers crushed Syracuse. A first-round pick in 2010 by the New York Islanders, Nelson has 10 goals and 19 points in 23 games -- he's second on the team in both categories during his rookie campaign after two years at the University of North Dakota. Nelson trails Nino Niederreiter, who had two assists in the game and now has 24 points this season.


Michael Latta, Milwaukee

Latta had three primary assists in the Admirals' win at Charlotte. A third-round pick by Nashville in 2009, Latta had 27 points and 100 penalty minutes as an AHL rookie last year and is on pace to easily surpass both totals this campaign. His 14 points in 22 games are tied for second on the team, and he leads the Admirals with 56 penalty minutes. Gabriel Bourque (fifth round in 2009) had two goals for Milwaukee.


Jacob Markstrom, San Antonio

Markstrom stopped 36 of 38 shots to help the Rampage defeat Oklahoma City. A second-round pick in 2008 by the Florida Panthers, Markstrom has now won six starts in a row for San Antonio after a slow start. Markstrom allowed four goals or more in four of his first seven starts this season, but has yielded just 15 in his past eight appearances. He has a .943 save percentage in those eight starts. Jordan Eberle (Edmonton, first round in 2008) had a goal and an assist for Oklahoma City.

NOTES: Loktionov capped a big weekend with two assists in Manchester's loss to Worcester. He had six points in three games, and now has 15 in 15 contests this season. … Roman Horak (Calgary, trade from N.Y. Rangers in 2011) had a goal and an assist for Abbotsford in a win at Toronto. Horak is tied for second in the AHL with 13 goals. … Ferraro had two goals for Grand Rapids in a win against Rockford. He has seven points in his past seven games. … Jaden Schwartz (St. Louis, first round in 2010) had a goal and an assist for Peoria in a win at Houston.

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