2013 AHL All-Star Classic a Hit in Providence

By Kristin Tullo  (@K_Tullo)

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It was a sold out crowd in which the Eastern Conference was heavily favored, but it was the Western conference that stole the show at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic in Providence, RI.

Sunday night the group of 46 guys from across the American Hockey League took part in a Skills Competition at the Dunkin Donuts center, competing in various events from puck handling to fastest skater. After dominating through the entire event, the East lost the competition in the nights last event- a breakaway relay in which every goal your team scores counts for your overall score. Providences own Trent Whitfield and the home town favorite clanked what could have been the game’s tying goal off the cross bar and the West walked away with a victory.

In the nights second competition, CCM Fastest Skater, Houston’s Jason Zucker broke the previous record by completing his lap around the rink in just 13.55 seconds. Only moments later though, Portland’s Chris Summers would top that, clocking his lap at 13.32 seconds, giving his team the win for that event along with setting the new AHL record.

With the crowd behind them on Monday night, the East took to the ice to get revenge on their Western rivals, a team comprised of players they don’t normally see during the regular AHL season. After falling behind 4-1 after the first period, the East started chipping away with help from Chad Kolarik of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins who had two goals on the night, Springfield’s Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Bracken Kearns of the Worchester Sharks.

After a back and forth battle, Trent Whitfield who was participating in his second AHL All-Star Classic of his 15 year career, tied it up at six a piece with 2:30 remaining. Ryan Hamilton would ruin it for the East when he netted the game winning goal and his third of the night, recording the seventh hat trick in the game’s history.

Adam Clendening who is in his first professional year with the Rockford IceHogs knows that while there’s nothing at stake in the All-Star Classic, it’s not a bad place to be when you consider the players that have competed before him.

“It’s a great experience,” the former BU Terrier said prior to Monday’s game. “ A lot of good things come from this I guess,statistically. Im not expecting too much from the game. Just have some fun with the guys. Show your skills.”

Clendening’s reference to statistics is right on, as over 90% of players that have taken part in the Classic have gone onto the NHL. The IceHog defenseman knows there’s a lot of work to do before he gets to the next level, but believe’s his first year so far has gone smoothly. Hard to argue with that when the 20-year old that signed an entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks in May is already appearing in games among the best of the AHL.

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This was Providence’s second AHL All-Star Classic. The first one happened to be in 1995, also following an NHL lockout.

The Hardest Shot competition was won by Brayden McNabb of the Rochester Americans with a shot at 101.8 MPH. Jamie Oleksiak of the Texas Stars wasn’t able to put either of his attempts on goal during this event.

The AHL schedule will resume on Thursday.

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