Western Conference Claims Victory in AHL Skills Competition

The AHL All-Star Skills Competition took place tonight in Ontario, California with the Western Conference winning the contest 18-15.

The night began with a moment of silence for Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed away earlier today in a helicopter crash. He was a big part of the Southern California sports scene and this was a nice gesture from the host Ontario Reign, who are the AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings. Condolences to Kobe’s family in this tough time.

On the television side, the NHL Network was using the TSN feed out of Canada and former Devils goaltender Mike McKenna was providing color commentary for this event.

With McKenna representing Devils of the past in the broadcast booth, Joey Anderson was representing the Devils of the future and the Binghamton Devils in tonight’s festivities.

Up first was the Puck Control Relay. The conference each team in the relay was representing won received a goal for a win. In the first race, Jack Studnicka, Joey Keane and Alex Barre-Boulet represented the East while Lucas Elvenes, Brennan Menell and Chris Wideman went for the West. The East won the first round.

Race number two featured Sebastian Aho (of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, not the one playing the NHL for the Hurricanes), Brogan Rafferty and Paul Carey of the East being bested by Alexandre Carrier, Glenn Gawdin and Kyle Capoblanco of the West.

The final two races were one-on-one with TJ Tynan of the West beating Morgan Frost of the East in the third race and Jeremy Bracco (East) defeating Kale Clague (West) in the fourth.

At the end of the first event, the score was tied at two apiece.

Next up was the Fastest Skater event. This one was won by Alex Formenton of the East who finished with a time of 13.356 to earn a goal for the East. The East’s skaters, which featured Studnicka and Keane in addition to Fromenton, finished with the fastest average time which also earned the Conference a goal, making it 4-2 after two events.

Next up was Anderson’s event, the Rapid Fire goalie assault. Round one saw Kasimir Kaskisuo (East) face Martin Frk and Chris Terry of the West and make eight saves. Round two had the West’s Connor Ingram against Matt Moulson and Barre-Boulet of the East. Ingram made nine saves here.

Round three saw East goalie Vitek Vanecek face Joel L’Esperance and Sam Anas of the West with Vanecek making eight saves. In round four, Edison, New Jersey-native and current San Diego Gull in the Ducks’ organization, Anthony Stolarz faced Timothy Liljegren and Rudolfs Balcers of the East, making seven saves.

Round five featured Jonas Johansson tending goal for the East facing Tyler Benson and Menell, making five saves. In round six, Kevin Lankinen took over between the pipes for the West and had Vinni Lettieri and Sam Miletic shooting at him, as he stopped seven of them.

In round seven, the East sent out Alex Nedeljkovic against Matthew Ford and Derrick Pouliot and he stopped eight of their shots. The eighth and final round saw Anderson and Jake Bean fired at Cal Petersen, representing the West from the hometown Ontario Reign. He made seven saves on them.

With a total of 30 saves, the West earned a point in this event.

Next was the Hardest Shot competition which saw Martin Frk of the Reign earn a point for the West with a shot of 109.2 MPH. This not only set an American Hockey League record, but was faster than the NHL record currently held by Zdeno Chara. The West also gained a point with the highest average speed shot.

After four events, the score was the East four and the West five.

Event five was the Accuracy Shooting. This was won by Charles Hudon of the Laval Rocket, who hit all four targets in five attempts. The East earned a point here while the West also got one for their shooters having the most hits in the fewest total attempts.

Next was the Pass and Score event. Each player skating into the zone on a three-man rush on the goalie had to touch the puck. Ingram made one save and let in a goal when he faced Frost, Aho, and Formenton. Kaskisuo also let in two goals and made a single save when he faced Elvenes, Jansen Harkins and Tynan.

Stolarz faced Anderson, Balcers and Lettieri and let in one goal, making two saves. In round four, Vanecek stopped one and let in two when he faced Brayden Burke, Carrier and Pouliot. Round five saw Kevin Lankinen of the West face Bean, Miletic and Cameron Gaunce. He stopped one and let in two as well.

In round six, the East’s Jonas Johansson made a save and let in two against Clague, Wideman and Capoblanco. Petersen got set for round seven and let in two and made a save against Jeremy Bracco, Barre-Boulet and Adam Clendening. The final round saw Nedeljovic made two saves and let in one against Sam Anas, Tyler Benson and Joachim Blichfeld.

The two Conferences tied in this one, each scoring six goals and being awarded six points. It was now the East ten and the West eleven.

In the final event of the evening, the Breakaway Relay saw players skate in on a goal, take a shot and have to get back to the blue line so their teammate could take their chance.

Round one featured Ingram facing Studnicka, who scored and Keane, Matt Moulson, Rafferty and Hudon, who were all stopped.

Round two saw Kaskisuo face Clague, who he stopped, L’Esterance, who scored, Menell, who was stopped, Gawdin, who scored and Evan Bouchard, who scored.

Round three saw Stolarz face Anderson, who lost the puck and promptly wiped out in the corner, he recovered and got back so that Liljegren could go and he was stopped. Formenton scored and then Stolarz stopped Aho and Frost.

In round four, Vanecek let in a goal to Pouliot, then stopped Burke, Carrier, Blichfeld and Capoblanco in succession.

Lankinen went in round five and faced Balcers, who he stopped, Miletic, who scored and Bean, Lettieri and Barre-Boulet who were all stopped.

Johansson, in round six, turned aside Elvenes, let in an Anas shot, then stopped Wideman, Benson and Harkins.

Hometown hero Petersen gave up a goal to Bracco to start round seven, then stopped Gaunce, Clendening, Paul Carey and Moulson on the next four breakaways.

In the final round (eight), Nedeljkovic let in a goal to Ford and then, just like Petersen, denied Tynan, Chris Terry, Gerald Mayhew and Frk on the next four breakaways.

The West won the event, outscoring the East 6-4, which, added up gave us our final of the West 18 and the East 15.

So that concludes the 2020 AHL All-Star Skills Competition. Please join us tomorrow for coverage of the Devils at the Senators, coming back from the five-day bye week and the AHL All-Star Game later on from California.