AHL Weekly Review: Wolf Pack Howling atop the East

The Utica Comets have continued their dominance of the AHL. They now have a 10-1-2-0 record. (Uticacomets.com)

Another week of the AHL season has passed us by, which means it is once again time for the Full Tilt Hockey Network’s AHL week in review.

It was an interesting week across the league, especially in the Eastern Conference. There are now new teams both leading the way and bringing up the back from last week, while the leading scorers have remained, for the most part, the same.

Oscar Lindberg leads the Wolf Pack in scoring through month one. (Credit: Wikipedia.com)

With two wins in three games this week, the Hartford Wolf Pack are now atop the AHL’s Eastern Conference. The Wolf Pack first defeated the Albany Devils on Wednesday, then proceeded to split a weekend back-to-back in Hershey, with the Bears. With the wins, Hartford improved it’s record to 8-3-1, with 17 points. Oscar Lindberg had a big weekend for the Wolf Pack, as he recorded four goals over three games. The 23-year-old Swede now leads Hartford in scoring, with 11 points (8-3-11).

The Wolf Pack’s 17 points is tied for the best in the east with both the WB-Scranton Penguins and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. However, Hartford has two games in hand over the Penguins, and one less shootout loss than the Sound Tigers, thus giving them the tie-breaker.

Both the Sound Tigers and the Penguins are coming off of a big weeks as well. The Penguins won three in a row on three consecutive nights, as they downed the Bears on Friday, the Senators on Saturday, and the Crunch on Sunday. After starting the season 4-5-1-0, W-B Scranton has clawed their way to the top of the standings with their latest three game winning streak.

The Sound Tigers, who are now 8-3-0-1, have also won three in a row. On Wednesday, Bridgeport defeated the Norfolk Admirals 3-1, and followed that up to beat the Albany Devils twice over the weekend, which included their 7-2 stomping of Albany on Saturday. The Sound Tigers have now won seven of their last 10, and are arguably the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. Harry Zolnierczyk has led the way for Bridgeport thus far, as he’s amassed 14 points (6-8-14) in 12 games his season.

After winning the AHL’s eastern conference last season, the St. John’s Ice Caps are off to a very slow start to the 14-15 season. (Ontarioregion.com)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the defending champion St. John’s IceCaps have gotten off on the wrong foot this season. The IceCaps are currently sitting in last place in the east at 3-8-3-1, and have lost seven games in a row. During their current seven game skid, the IceCaps have only earned one point, as six of their seven losses have come in regulation.

Across the way in the western conference, the Utica Comets have continued to assert their dominance. The Comets tallied another three in the win column this week, as they defeated the Senators, Monsters, and the Americans. With their four wins, the Comets are now an impressive 10-1-2-0, and have 22 points. Utica has also won eight of their last 10, with only of their two losses coming in regulation. Cal O’Reilly has continued to add assists as well. O’Reilly now has 13 assists to accompany his one goal on the season. Jacob Markstrom has also continued to impress. He now has a 6-0-1 record, with a 0.99 goals against average, and a .963 save percentage.

Following closely behind the Comets are the Rockford IceHogs. The IceHogs are just one point behind Utica, with 21, and have won eight games in a row, dating back to their October 25th matchup with the Chicago Wolves. Mark McNeill has led the way for Rockford to this point, with 15 points (9-6-15), while goaltender’s Scott Darling and Michael Leighton have split the workload in goal. In five games this season, Darling has yet to lose with a perfect 5-0-0 record, and has posted a .948 save percentage alongside a 1.52 goals against average.

Not much has changed at the bottom of the west standings either. The Iowa Wild have had that spot to themselves since day one, and they remain there as of this article being written. The Wild lost another two games this week, and now have a lousy 2-10-0-0 record. Bad. Just plain bad.

On the individual front, obviously we’ve already talked about Jacob Markstrom and his continued dominance between the pipes. Travis Morin (5-12-17) of the Texas Stars, and Chris Wideman (8-9-17) have also kept up their scoring pace, as both now own 17 points on the season. But remaining atop the AHL scoring race is Hershey Bear’s forward Kris Newbury. Through the first month of the season, Newbury has compiled eight goals and 10 assists, for 18 points. Newbury, who’s AHL career high in points came in 2012 with the Connecticut Whale when he netted 64 points, is currently on pace to shatter his personal records. Whether or not that will happen will depend both on his health, and whether or not he gets the call from the Washington Capitals. Only time will tell on that front.

Kris Newbury is leading the AHL in scoring thus far for the Hershey Bears (Credit: Justsport photography)

That will do it for this week’s Full Tilt AHL round up. As is the case every week, there are great performances, and there are those that wish to be forgotten. Here at FullTilt, we’ll keep tabs on all of them, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be sure to check back next week to find out who’s hot and who’s not across the American Hockey League.

Leave a Reply