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Central Division wins AHL All-Star Challenge

Defeats Atlantic Division in championship game

by Joe Yerdon @JoeYerdon / Correspondent

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Grand Rapids forward Jeff Hoggan scored along with three other players and Rockford goalie Michael Leighton had a shutout to give the Central Division a 4-0 win against the Atlantic Division in the championship game of the 2016 AHL All-Star Challenge.

Hoggan, the Western Conference captain, scored the game-winning goal against Portland goalie Mike McKenna in the championship game of the new AHL All-Star Challenge format.

Chicago forward Pat Cannone scored in the championship game and had three goals and an assist in the tournament, including a shootout-winning goal in the round-robin tournament, and was named the All-Star Challenge Most Valuable Player.

Like the NHL All-Star Game, the AHL changed its All-Star Game format to a divisional tournament. The four teams represented the AHL's divisions played six games of nine minutes each in a round-robin tournament. The first half was played 4-on-4 and the second half was played 3-on-3 with the top two teams advancing to the championship game which featured a six-minute 3-on-3 period.

The Central Division went 2-1 in the round-robin to advance to the final against the Atlantic Division. The Atlantic Division defeated the North Division in the last game of the round-robin to make the final.

Along with Cannone, Rockford forward Jake Dowell also had three goals and an assist in the tournament. Grand Rapids defenseman Xavier Ouellet had two goals and two assists and Lake Erie forward T.J. Tynan had five assists for the Central Division.

Leighton, who tied Johnny Bower's AHL record for career shutouts on Friday with his 45th, stopped 13 of 14 shots in the tournament.

Hershey forward Chris Bourque and Portland forward Rob Schremp each had two goals and two assists for the Atlantic Division. Stockton forward Derek Grant and San Diego forward Nick Ritchie had two goals and an assist each for the Pacific Division and Toronto forward Josh Leivo had two goals and an assist for the North Division.

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