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Skill on display at ECHL All-Star Game

by Brian Compton

"Both teams had a pile of guys with talent. A lot of these guys are going to see time in the American (Hockey) League, and maybe a few in the National Hockey League."
-- Ian Herbers

The hard work Ian Herbers put forth during the summer translated into an All-Star Game victory Wednesday night.

The Johnstown Chiefs' coach -- now in his second season behind the bench -- guided the American Conference to an 11-5 victory against the National Conference in the ECHL All-Star Game, which was held at the Sovereign Center in Reading, Pa.

Herbers was joined by Wheeling Nailers coach Greg Puhalski, who is in his first full season there. Wheeling leads Johnstown by just two points in the North Division.

"It was just nice to see that much skill on the ice at one time," Herbers told The (Johnstown) Tribune-Democrat. "Both teams had a pile of guys with talent. A lot of these guys are going to see time in the American (Hockey) League, and maybe a few in the National Hockey League. It was nice to get a chance to interact with them."

Charlotte's Matt Ford and Florida's Kevin Baker each had 3 goals and an assist for the American Conference. Ford, who was named the game's Most Valuable Player, was a plus-5. Also scoring for the Americans were Wheeling's Aaron Clarke and Bryan Ewing, Mississippi's Ryan Cruthers and Dayton's Jarret Lukin.

Scoring for the National Conference were Ontario's Geoff Walker, Stockton's Cory Urquhart, Bakersfield's Mark Derlago, Idaho's Mark Bomersback, and Utah's Tom May.

The American Conference scored three goals in a span of 1:19 in the third period, breaking the league All-Star record for fastest three goals of 1:50, set by the West All-Stars in 1995 at Greensboro, N.C. The Americans scored the first two goals of the third 18 seconds apart to equal the third-fastest two goals by the Southern All-Stars in 1999 at Biloxi, Miss.

"The team picked up the play in the second and third period," Herbers said.

Nationals win skills competition -- The National Conference may have lost the ECHL All-Star Game, but several players on the roster showed their skills the night before at the Sovereign Canter. In the end, the National Conference earned a 9-7 victory in the 12th annual ECHL All-Star skills competition.

"It's definitely fun," Reading Royals forward Tyler Doig told the Reading Eagle. "It's more for the fans than anything. We get to have them up close and personal. So it's a good experience for everybody. I enjoyed it a lot."

The individual winners were:

Hardest shot -- Dylan Yeo, Victoria, 97.7 MPH
Fastest skater -- Dan Gedur, Victoria, 13.686 seconds
Rapid fire -- Kris Mayotte, Johnstown, 8 saves
Shooting accuracy -- Cory Urquhart (Stockton), Ryan Cruthers (Mississippi) and Kevin Baker (Florida), 3 targets each.
Around the ECHL -- The Dayton Bombers traded defenseman Mike Looby to the Gwinnett Gladiators for future considerations. … The Alaska Aces signed forward Matt Stefanishion, who became a free agent after the Fresno Falcons folded. … John Brophy, Blake Cullen, Rod Taylor and Tom Nemeth were enshrined in the ECHL Hall of Fame during the All-Star festivities in Reading. … The Mississippi Sea Wolves acquired forward Jeff Kyrzakos from the Stockton Thunder for future considerations.

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