AHL Weekly News, Laval Rocket, Lehigh Valley Phantoms, American Hockey League, hockey, prospects, AHL, NHL, Rocket Sports Media
ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA — Welcome to our new column here at the AHL Report: AHL Weekly! Published every Tuesday, this post will bring you the latest American Hockey League (AHL) news from around North America.
We’ll feature the AHL’s Player(s) of the Week/Month, interesting news items, plus league standings, suspensions, and leaders.
For our faithful Laval Rocket and Lehigh Valley Phantoms readers, we’ll highlight the latest news and updates of the week for those two teams as well, including links to our Rocket Sports Media team’s comprehensive game recaps.
Players of the Month
Martin Frk was named the AHL Player of the Month for November. During that time, in eight games played, the Ontario Reign forward registered five goals and nine assists for 14 points. Four of these goals and 10 of these points are from the first three games of the month, when he was named AHL Player of the Week.
Frk’s first five games in November were by far his most impressive, starting with two consecutive four-point games, followed by three two-point games.
In 17 games this season, Frk has 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists), which puts him in third place in the AHL scoring race.
Next, Tucson Roadrunners forward Matias Maccelli was named AHL Rookie of the Month. In his eight November appearances, Maccelli scored six goals and and added eight assists for 14 points.
The 21-year-old scored his first three goals on November 12, getting a hat trick in what was a five-point performance for him, helping his team to an 8-4 win over the Ontario Reign.
He finished the month on a hot streak, with goals in the last three games in November, including multi-point efforts in the last two.
Finally, Justus Annunen was named AHL Goaltender of the Month. He put up a 5-1-2 record in November, with a 1.83 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.
His impressive performance with the Colorado Eagles in November was followed with a recall by the Colorado Avalanche on emergency conditions on December 1. He made his NHL debut on December 4 against the Ottawa Senators, coming into the game in the second period in relief of Jonas Johansson, but ultimately losing the game 6-5.
However, he got a victory in his first start in the NHL on December 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers, as the Avalanche won 7-5.
Player of the Week
Connor Mackey, defenseman for the Stockton Heat, was named AHL Player of the Week. He scored three goals and two assists for five points in two games last week.
In a three-point performance on Friday, Mackey scored his first two goals of the season. One was a powerplay goal and the other was a shorthanded goal. Those goals helped lead the Heat to a 4-1 win against the San Diego Gulls.
In another multipoint game on Saturday, the 25-year-old registered an assist and scored another shorthanded goal against the Gulls on the Heat’s way to back-to-back victories over San Diego. He has now three goals and six assists in 17 games this season.
COVID-19 Disruptions Continue
Multiple teams had to shut down both last week and this week because of the league’s COVID-19 protocols. As a result, games involving the Rochester Americans, Hartford Wolf Pack, Springfield Thunderbirds, Hershey Bears, Providence Bruins, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and Bakersfield Condors were postponed. Makeup dates will be announced as they become available.
Subban on the Trade Block
The Buffalo Sabres acquired Malcolm Subban from the Chicago Blackhawks for future considerations.
In five games this season with the Rockford IceHogs, the 27-year-old goaltender has a 2-2-1 record (3.38 GAA/.893 SV%). His career AHL stats over 132 games played with Rockford and the Providence Bruins, is 58-47-20 (2.44 GAA/.917 SV%) and includes six shutouts.
Subban was the Sabres’ starter on December 4 as they faced the Carolina Hurricanes. He allowed six goals on 25 shots in the 6-2 loss, but didn’t finish the game after suffering an injury and exiting early.
More Monsters in Ohio
Since 2015, the Columbus Blue Jackets have celebrated an AHL affiliation with the Cleveland Monsters. This week, the team announced a multi-year agreement to extend the affiliation.
Chris Clark, director of player personnel for the Blue Jackets and Monsters general manager, called Cleveland a “first-class organization” in the announcement, and added, “The relationship between the Blue Jackets and Monsters has been very successful on many levels, including winning a Calder Cup championship.”
Cleveland team president, Mike Ostrowski, concurred with Clark’s statement and said, “Our partnership with Columbus is great on many levels and allows our players to play in a major league environment which provides them a taste of what the NHL experience is like. Monsters fans are the best in the AHL and now they’ll be able to continue seeing future Blue Jackets play right here in downtown Cleveland, as well as follow their careers as they head to the Jackets. This partnership is outstanding for hockey in the state of Ohio.”
Laval Rocket Update
December 1: TEX (4) @ LAV (3) – OT
The Texas Stars won this game in overtime, leaving the Laval Rocket with only one point after having to come back and tie the game twice to force extra time.
The Rocket’s powerplay struggled, as they were unable to convert on three powerplay opportunities. They were also pretty undisciplined, earning 10 penalty minutes. Read the full recap: Seeing Stars | RECAP: TEX @ LAV
December 3: TEX (3) @ LAV (4) – OT
In this second consecutive matchup against the Stars, the Rocket’s lineup looked a bit different as forward Laurent Dauphin and defenseman Corey Schueneman were recalled by the Montreal Canadiens, leading to Cameron Hillis and Charles-David Beaudoin being inserted into the Rocket’s lineup.
The team, once again, had to come back twice and force overtime. But this time, the outcome was different as they took both points.
The Rocket’s difficulty with their special teams was also evident in this game, as they converted on one of six powerplay opportunities, and killed two of four penalties. Read the full recap: Redemption in Overtime | RECAP: TEX @ LAV
December 4: LAV (5) @ TOR (1)
There were no changes to the lineup from the previous game, and Cayden Primeau played well in his third consecutive start. Petr Mrázek was the starter for the Marlies, as he was sent down to the AHL on a conditioning stint after suffering a groin injury earlier this season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In an overall better game for the Rocket, they were able to score on one of four powerplays and killed all five of their penalties. Read full recap: Consistent Play Pays Off | RECAP: LAV @ TOR
The Rocket currently lead the league in penalty minutes, with 318 so far this season. The Iowa Wild is a close second with 314.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms Update
Both December 1 and December 4 games versus the Hershey Bears were postponed due to COVID-19 protocols affecting Hershey.
December 3: LHV (3) @ CLT (5)
In an overall good effort by the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, luck wasn’t on their side once again as they kept hitting the iron, and ultimately fell 3-5 to the Charlotte Checkers.
After a couple of postponed games last week, they will play their next game on December 10 in Hartford against the Wolf Pack.
- Luke Witkowski (GR) – suspended two games for a charging incident in the December 4 game against the Rockford IceHogs. He had also received a two-game suspension earlier this season for a cross-checking incident against the Milwaukee Admirals on October 30.
- Austin Wagner (ONT) – suspended one game as a result of an illegal check to the head in the December 1 game against the Abbotsford Canucks.
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