AHL Weekly Review: Falcons Soar in Springfield
Since the last review of the AHL two weeks ago, some big changes have occurred in the standings. While the Iowa Wild still remain in the basement, the Springfield Falcons and the Adirondack Flames have been flying high as of late, and have catapulted up the ranks in their respective conferences.
Meanwhile, the pace of the Albany Devils has slowed, as they now have a 10-6-1-4 record, while the St. John’s IceCaps have seemingly recovered after early season struggles, and are now are sitting just outside the Eastern Conference’s top-eight.
There is no question about it. The Springfield Falcons are the hottest team in the American Hockey League. Not long ago, the Falcons found themselves with a 6-7-1-0 record, however, they have now won nine games in a row, and are currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference. The proud owners of a 15-7-1-0 record, the Falcons have been led by defenseman Austin Madaisky. In 28 games last year, Madaisky recorded just eight points. Thus far in the ’14-’15 campaign, the 22-year-old has 20 points (8-12-20) in 23 games. Swedish native Anton Forsberg has also been strong in net for the Columbus Blue Jackets affiliate, as he has nine wins, a 1.92 goals against average, and a .932 save percentage.
The Manchester Monarchs, who were the focus of the last AHL weekly review, have also continued their impressive play. The Monarchs, who have won eight of their last 10, are sitting just four points behind the Falcons with a 13-5-1-0 record, but have four games in hand. The Monarchs have been clicking on all cylinders this season, as not one skater who has played in at least 14 of the team’s 19 games this season has a minus rating. They have also allowed the second fewest goals against in the league, second only to the Milwaukee Admirals. Jean-Francois Berube has been integral in that department, as he has posted a 2.07 goals against average, with a .915 save percentage and 10 wins between the pipes for Manchester.
Offensively, Brian O’Neill has led the way for the Monarchs as he’s amassed 19 points (6-13-19) in 19 games this season, while Nick Shore is atop the stat sheet in goals, with 10.
Across the way in the Western Conference, the two teams who have surged in recent days have been the San Antonio Rampage and the Adirondack Flames.
Following five losing seasons in which the Adirondack Phantoms inhabited the Glens Falls Civic Center, hockey fans in upstate New York finally have something to cheer about. After a 1-5-1-0 start where fans became restless, and increasingly demanding of wins, the Flames eventually found their game. Now, the Flames have won 11 of their last 13 contests, own a 12-8-1-0 record, and have catapulted from the bottom of the standings, up to 7th place in the Conference.
While offensive contributions have come from up and down the lineup with Bill Arnold and Ben Hanowski leading the way, goaltenders Joni Ortio and Brad Thiessen have both been rock solid as of late, helping the Flames improve their play and solidify the penalty kill, which recently killed off 33 minor’s in a row.
Despite two tough losses for the Flames over the weekend, Adirondack is no doubt heading in the right direction, and AHL hockey is alive and well in upstate New York.
Also winning eight of their last 10 are the San Antonio Rampage, who are now sitting comfortably in third place in the west with a 13-6-1-0 record.
Bobby Butler has been the man with a plan down in San Antonio for the Rampage. In 20 games this season, Butler has accumulated 10 goals and 10 assists, for 20 points, while Drew Shore has been lights out in recent days, collecting nine points (3-6-9) over his last four games. And we would be remiss if we forgot to mention the consistent quality play of former NHL starter Dan Ellis between the pipes. Ellis, 34, has eight wins in 12 games this season, with a 2.13 goals against average, and a .918 save percentage.
And as always, when one team play’s well, another probably doesn’t, and guess what guys, the Iowa Wild, just as they have from the get-go, are still in last place in the league. At 5-14-1-1, Iowa has just 12 points on the season, but as bad as things have gone for the Wild, things are going even worse for the Toronto Marlies.
After what was really a mediocre start for Toronto, the Marlies have now gone winless in their last nine, and have earned just two points during that span. The Marlies have scored a league low 30 goals through 19 games this season, and to make matters worse, they have now caught up to Iowa for the league’s worst record. Toronto sits tied with the Wild with 12 points, and a measly 5-12-2-0 record.
Bad news across the border in Ontario, if you ask me…
On the individual front, Grand Rapids Griffins forward Teemu Pulkkinen has overtaken the top spot as the AHL’s top scorer with 23 points (9-14-23). Following closely behind, however, is Binghamton Senators defenseman Chris Wideman, with 22 points (11-11-22).
In net, Magnus Hellberg of the Milwaukee Admirals is turning some heads, as he has emerged as the top goaltender in the AHL. In eight games for the Admirals this season, Hellberg has earned six wins, and has posted a 1.23 goals against average, and a .951 save percentage. He has also yet to lose in regulation time.
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.