AHL All-Star Classic Report
The 2009 AHL All-Star Classic took place over the past weekend in Worcester, Mass. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins were represented by three players. Ben Lovejoy and Jeff Taffe played for the PlanetUSA squad, and Chris Minard was a member of the Canadian AHL All-Star team.
The second event in the competition was the Reebok Fastest Skater. Each player had their choice of which way they would like to circle around the rink. Minard was the first up, and put up an impressive time of 14.250. He finished the event in second place, after Jared Ross of the Phantoms put up a better time of 14.187.
Next, the third event was the Enterprise Cleaning Corporation Rapid Fire. Taffe and Michael Ryan of Albany took shots on Lake Erie goaltender Tyler Weiman. Taffe roofed one of his four shots.
The fourth event was the Reebok Hardest Shot. Lovejoy took two slapshots, his hardest being 92.2 mph. The shot appeared quicker at first, but it probably registered where it did due to his shot placement. Derek Joslin of Worcester won with a shot of 98.6 mph.
Following this was the Charter Communications Accuracy Shooting competition. Minard hit 2 of the 8 targets. He hit the top left and top right plates, but missed both of the lower shots. Mike Santorelli of the Milwaukee Admirals shot an impressive 4-for-4.
The sixth event was the Bud Light Pass and Score. Three skaters brought the puck in on one goaltender, on a 3-on-0 break. All three of the players had to have touched the puck at least once before scoring. Joe Motzko of Chicago, and Jakub Kindl of Grand Rapids were paired with Taffe. They went on to score on all three of their rushes. Taffe had one of the goals, on a one-timer snap shot.
The final and most entertaining event was the EA Sports NHL 09 Breakaway Relay. All of the players took part in this. Lovejoy tried and stop and start move to the forehand, but was denied. Taffe brought the puck down the right side and attempted a Sykora-type backhand shot, but fired it wide. Finally, Minard skated straight down, deked to the backhand, and was also denied five-hole.
The Planet USA All-Stars defeated the Canadian All-Stars by a final of 14-11. This broke the record for the most goals tallied in one AHL All-Star game. Minard had 3 shots on goal, with no points, and finished with a -2 plus-minus rating.
Typically, you don’t see players focusing on defensive aspects in an All-Star event, but that is what Lovejoy was doing. He played a solid game, with an even plus-minus rating, and 2 shots on net.
The story of the night was the line pairing of Taffe and Ross. Ross finished with 1 goal and 6 assists, and Taffe had a hat trick and 2 helpers. Ross was named the MVP of the game.
All of Taffe’s goals were pretty plays that resulted in him burying them top shelf. On his hat trick goal, he blasted past an opposing defender and backhanded the puck upstairs.
All in all, it was a nice weekend for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.