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AHL Weekly: Kral, Staal, Cross | NEWS

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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.

Player of the Week

Toronto Marlies defenseman Filip Král was named AHL Player of the Week after scoring two goals and four assists to help Toronto win all four of the team’s games last week, extending their winning streak to six games.

Král’s three assists in the first period of the January 10 game against Springfield was a career-high, and that came just before notching his first goal of the season two days later against Belleville.

The 22-year-old defenseman netted another goal against Hershey on January 15, and ended the week with an assist on the game-tying goal against Lehigh Valley on January 16.

Noteworthy News

Postponements Slowing?

After many COVID-19 outbreaks around the AHL and NHL over the past few weeks, things seem to slowly be getting back to normal, with only two games postponed in the American League last week.

The Bakersfield Condors vs. Abbotsford Canucks game on January 10 was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols affecting the Canucks. The Stockton Heat vs. Bakersfield Condors game on January 14 was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols affecting the Condors.

On Tuesday, the Laval Rocket announced some postponements for this week as well. The January 21st and 22nd games against the Belleville Senators will both be postponed. Their home game against the Utica Comets remains scheduled for January 19th, however no fans will be in attendance.

Staal Eyes Beijing Olympics

The Iowa Wild signed Eric Staal to a professional tryout contract (PTO) as he looks to make the Olympic roster for Team Canada. The last time he played in the AHL was in 2004, when he registered 77 points in 77 games with the Lowell Lock Monsters.

The veteran forward has played in 1,293 games in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Carolina, Minnesota, Buffalo, and Montreal, recording 441 goals and 593 assists for a total 1,034 points.

Staal also won the Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, and was with the Canadiens as they reached the Final last season.

Laval Rocket Update

January 12: SYR (2) @ LAV (3)

The Laval Rocket played their first game since December 17th, and Devante Smith-Pelly made his return to the Canadiens’ organization after signing a professional tryout (PTO) with the Rocket.

Overall, it was a pretty evenly-played back-and-forth game, but Laval had a slight edge over Syracuse. Goaltender Michael McNiven made some key saves to help the team get the win in regulation. Read the full recap: Against The Odds | RECAP: SYR @ LAV

January 14: LAV (4) @ SPR (3)

After a tough start for Laval, some of the newcomers worked together to get the Rocket on the board. Justin Ducharme, who has spent much of the season with the Canadiens’ ECHL affiliate, the Trois-Rivières Lions, scored his first AHL goal. Smith-Pelly got the primary assist, marking his first point with Laval.

After two periods, the Rocket found themselves down 1-3, but were able to tie the game and take the win in overtime thanks to a goal by Jean-Sebastien Dea. Read the full recap: Overtime? No Problem | RECAP: LAV @ SPR

January 15: LAV (0) @ HFD (4)

Hartford mostly dominated this game, starting early with a goal only 96 seconds after the opening faceoff.

Laval had powerplay opportunities in the second and third periods, but their struggles continued, as they went 0-for-4 on the man-advantage. They now rank 27th in the league in powerplay success rate (16%).

The Wolfpack scored two empty-net goals in the last four minutes, sealing the win and shutout with former Montreal goaltender Keith Kinkaid manning the Hartford net.. Read the full recap: Coming Up Empty | RECAP: LAV @ HFD

Lehigh Valley Phantoms Update

January 14: LHV (4) @ WBS (3)

Garrett Metcalf dressed for his second start with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and had an impressive 39-save performance, helping the team to a victory despite being outshot 42-16.

The Phantoms’ scorers also had a great game. Linus Sandin netted two goals, while Adam Clendening and Cal O’Reilly both registered three-point games (one goal, two assists each). This Phantoms victory over the Penguins extended their win streak to nine games.

January 15: WBS (5) @ LHV (2)

In this rematch, the Penguins took the win over the Phantoms, abruptly ending their point streak. It was their first regulation loss since December 3rd.

Both Lehigh Valley goals were scored on the powerplay, as they found themselves on the man-advantage seven times. Both goals were set up by Clendening, who had a second consecutive multi-point game.

January 16: TOR (4) @ LHV (3)

The Marlies took the overtime win over the Phantoms, who were playing their third game in three days.

While Toronto didn’t register a single shot on goal in the first 10 minutes of the game, Joey Anderson opened the scoring. Brennan Saulnier responded 42 seconds later and tied the game. But Toronto’s offense was awakened, and Anderson ended up with a hat-trick and the overtime-winner.

League Standings

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

League Leaders

Skaters

Goaltenders

League Suspensions

  • Tommy Cross (SPR) – suspended one game as a consequence of receiving an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of the January 15 game against Providence.

For all the latest news, updates, analysis, and information on hockey prospects, be sure to bookmark AHLReport.com and follow @TheAHLReport on Twitter and Facebook. We invite you to leave a comment below!

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By Maria Bouabdo, Staff Writer
The AHL Report
Copyright © 2021 Rocket Sports

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