AHL Southern Division Report

By pbadmin

AHL’s Southern Division Report

By Al Alven

(Special note: Due to logistics, the AHL South Report
will be published on a bi-weekly basis from this point
on. Thank you to everyone who has supported the report
in its first few weeks of existence!)

Last night, the South Division’s own
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins helped the AHL kick off
its 66th season as the team squared off against the
St. John’s Maple Leafs in the league opener. It was an
emotional night at the First Union Arena in
Wilkes-Barre, as the Penguins raised their Western
Conference championship banner and honored the victims
of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with a moving
pre-game ceremony.

In the end, before a sell-out crowd of 8,143, the
Leafs wound up escaping with a 6-4 victory on the
road. The visitors displayed a very balanced team
effort, receiving goals from six different players:
Doug Doull, Petr Svoboda, Luca Cereda, Paul Healy,
Donald MacLean and Bobby House (empty net). The Pens
got a pair of goals from Billy Tibbetts and one each
from Alexander Zevakhin and Ross Lupaschuk.

Leafs goaltender Mike Minard was named the game’s
first star after stopping 28 of 32 shots, 14 of which
came in the third period. Veteran Robbie Tallas was
unspectacular for the Pens, allowing five goals on 29

Tonight, the Philadelphia Phantoms and Norfolk
Admirals will kick off their respective seasons as
well. The Hershey Bears are set to debut on Sunday
(see bottom of article for game listings). With this
is mind, the following is a brief look at each of the
South Division’s four teams as they prepare to enter
the 2001-02 AHL season…

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

NHL Affiliate: Pittsburgh Penguins

Other Affiliations: Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)

Head Coach: Glenn Patrick (3rd season)

General Manager: Craig Patrick (3rd season)

2000-01 Record: 36-33-9-2 (83 points)

Outlook: From the outset, this is clearly not the same
Penguins team that went to the Calder Cup Finals last
season. In fact, the team will return only one
defenseman (Brendan Buckley) from last year’s squad.
However, the additions of Ross Lupaschuk and Brooks
Orpik, both picked up in the Jaromir Jagr deal, should
pay dividends on the blueline. The promotion of Milan
Kraft to Pittsburgh hurts, but Eric Meloche, Tom
Kostopoulos and Martin Sonnenberg should provide their
fair share of offense. Veteran goaltender Robbie
Tallas, a perennial NHL backup, could be an elite
goaltender at the AHL level. Sebastien Caron was
unspectacular in his rookie season last year, but he
should prove to be an at least an adequate backup.



Sebastien Caron, Joel Laing, Robbie Tallas


Brendan Buckley, David Koci, Ross Lupaschuck, Brooks
Orpik, Shaun Peet, Peter Ratchuck, Darcy Robinson,
Robert Scuderi


Robert Dome, Jan Fadrny, Dylan Gyori, Tom Kostopoulos,
Jason MacDonald, Alexandre Mathieu, Eric Meloche,
Steve Parsons, Michal Sivek, Martin Sonnenberg, Tomas
Surovy, Billy Tibbetts, Darcy Verot, Alexander

Hershey Bears

NHL Affiliate: Colorado Avalanche

Other Affiliations: None

Head Coach: Mike Foligno (4th season)

General Manager: Doug Yingst

2000-01 Record: 34-39-4-3 (75 points)

Outlook: Nostalgia will reign in Chocolatetown this
season, for this will be the Bears’ last campaign at
the historic 65-year-old Hersheypark Arena. At the end
of the season, the oldest pro hockey arena in North
America will give way to the new $75 million Giant
Center. No doubt, the Bears’ brass will make every
attempt to close the 66 year old hockey temple on a
positive note. Veterans Kelly Fairchild, Larry
Courville and Matt Herr lead a solid offensive unit
that also boasts promising newcomers Jordan
Krestanovich, Mikhail Kuleshov and Radim Vrbata. AHL
veteran Dave MacIssac will bolster an impressive
defensive unit that also includes Brad Norton, Jeff
Paul, and Alex Riazantsev. In addition, The
goaltending tandem of Phil Sauve and Frederic Cassivi
is simply one of the best in the league.



Andrew Allen, Frederic Cassivi, Phil Sauve


Sanny Lindstrom, Dave MacIsaac, Bryan Muir, Brad
Norton, Jeff Paul, Alex Riazantsev, Matt Scorsune,
Brent Thompson


Yuri Babenko, Mike Cirillo, Larry Courville, Jeff Daw,
Kelly Fairchild, Riku Hahl, Matt Herr, Jordan
Krestanovich, Mikhail Kuleshov, Evgeny Lazarev, Steve
Moore, Rocky Thompson, K.C. Timmons, Radim Vrbata

Norfolk Admirals

NHL Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks

Other Affiliations: Jackson Bandits (ECHL)

Head Coach: Trent Yawney (2nd season)

General Manager: Al MacIsaac (2nd season)

2000-01 Record: 36-26-13-5 (90 points)

Outlook: Expect plenty of goals from the Admirals this
season, but don’t expect great defense. The addition
of Peter White, one of the top scorers in AHL history,
will provide the team with plenty of firepower. Casey
Hankinson will also supply some offense, and rugged
winger Shawn Thornton will help in the grit
department. On the defensive side, Nolan Baumgartner
and Chris McAlpine (a veteran of 228 NHL games) will
be expected to step up in the absence of departures
Marty Wilford and Jeff Paul. The biggest difficulty
for Norfolk, however, could be in goal. The
unexperienced rookie tandem of Craig Andersson and
Michael Leighton will replace veterans Michel Larocque
and Jeff Maund as the team’s last line of defense.



Craig Andersson, Michael Leighton


Nolan Baumgartner, Vladimir Chebaturkin, Kevin Dean,
Kent Huskins, Chris McAlpine, Rumun Ndur, Dmitri


Syl Apps III, Tyler Arnason, Ajay Baines, Casey
Hankinson, Matt Henderson, Ty Jones, Jean-Yves Leroux,
Mike Peluso, Nathan Perrott, Richard Pitirri, Mike
Souza, Shawn Thornton, Peter White

Philadelphia Phantoms

NHL Affiliate: Philadelphia Flyers

Other affiliations: Trenton Titans (ECHL)

Head Coach: John Stevens (2nd Season)

General Manager: Bob Clarke (6th Season)

2000-01 Record: 36-34-5-5 (82 points)

Outlook: For the first time in the team’s five-year
history, the Phantoms failed to win a division title
last season. The team sagged at times under first-year
head coach John Stevens, but expect a turnaround this
season. Top-flight AHL scorers Mark Greig and Mark
Freer are back. The offense should also be bolstered
by the acquisition of Marty Murray, one of the heroes
of last season’s Calder Cup-winning St. John Flames
team. On defense, John Slaney and Brad Tiley, the last
two AHL Defensemen of the Year, are about as good as
it gets at this level. Between the pipes, top rookie
prospect Maxime Ouellet should get his share of
minutes. His backup, Neil Little, is a veteran AHLer
and former Calder Cup winner who comes to play every



Neil Little, Maxime Ouellet


Jason Beckett, Joe DiPenta, Dan Peters, Francis
Lessard, Bruno St. Jacques, John Slaney, Brad Tiley,
Jim Vandermeer


Craig Brunel, James Chalmers, Tomas Divisek, Mark
Freer, Mark Greig, Petr Hubacek, Kirby Law, Guillaume
Lefebvre, Mike Lephart, Marty Murray, Vaclav Pletka,
Peter Vandermeer, Mike Watt

Upcoming Games

The following is a listing of this weekend’s games
involving the four South Division teams…

Friday, Oct. 5

Worcester @ Philadelphia (First Union Spectrum, 7:05

Springfield @ Norfolk (Norfolk Scope, 7:30

Saturday, Oct. 6

Worcester @ Hershey (Hersheypark Arena, 7 p.m.)

Springfield @ Norfolk (Norfolk Scope, 7:30 p.m.)

Rochester @ WBS (First Union Arena, 7:05 p.m.)

Sunday, Oct. 7

Providence @ Hershey (Hersheypark Arena, 6 p.m.)

@ Philadelphia (First Union Spectrum, 7:05 p.m.)