SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The American Hockey League announced today that Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins associate coach Jay Leach will serve as coach for the Atlantic Division at the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic being held Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Syracuse, N.Y.
The Penguins, Toronto Marlies, Milwaukee Admirals and Ontario Reign clinched the right to be represented by their coaches at the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic by all owning the best record in their respective divisions as of the league’s pre-determined deadline – the end of play on Dec. 31.
Leach, who was born in Syracuse, began the season as the Penguins’ assistant coach before being named interim head coach upon Mike Sullivan’s promotion to Pittsburgh on Dec. 12; he was appointed associate coach when Clark Donatelli was named head coach on Dec. 22. With Leach on the staff, the Penguins have posted a record of 21-8-0-1 (.717) and rank third in the AHL in both offense and defense.
Leach’s career as a player began in 2001-02 and spanned 12 years throughout the ECHL, AHL, and NHL. Leach totaled 87 points (25G-62A) in 499 AHL contests with Springfield, Providence, Bridgeport, Norfolk, Portland, Lowell/Albany and Worcester. He served as team captain for the Bruins in 2005-07, the Sharks in 2010-11, and also the Devils during the 2008-09 (Lowell) and 2012-13 (Albany) seasons.
The 36-year-old began his coaching career last season with Alder Mannheim, helping the team to a Deutsche Eishockey Liga championship.
This year’s All-Stars will be divided into four teams, one representing each of the league’s four divisions, for the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Challenge on the evening of Feb. 1. Instead of a traditional 60-minute game, the teams will play a round-robin tournament featuring six games of nine minutes each; the first half of each game will be played at 4-on-4, and the second half at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin tournament will face off for the championship, a six-minute game played at 3-on-3.
The 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 31 will keep its traditional format, with All-Stars from the Eastern Conference squaring off against All-Stars from the Western Conference in seven skills events.
Tickets for the two-day 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased either in person at the Syracuse Crunch office located in the War Memorial Arena at 800 South State Street in Syracuse, by calling (315) 473-4444, or through all Ticketmaster outlets.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton season ticket packages, including Full Season, 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.