AHL ALL-STAR CLASSIC | AHL All-Star Game, Laval, Laval Rocket, Alex Belzile, Anthony Richard, Interviews, AHL, Rocket Sports Media
LAVAL, QC — Place Bell was packed on Sunday night when the Laval Rocket played host for the first time to the AHL All-Star Skills Competition. On Monday night, those crowds returned to the arena to witness the All-Star classic, a mini-tournament where all four divisions would compete to be the best of the night.
The Atlantic, North, Central, and Pacific divisions played in six three-on-three games, each lasting 10 minutes. Points accumulated for each division based off those performances would be tallied to determine the two teams who would go head-to-head in the championship round.
The opening mini-game pitted Alex Belzile, Anthony Richard, and the rest of the North Division against the Pacific Division.
Egor Sokolov opened the scoring on the night with a little lift of the puck past Dustin Wolf. The goal came off a nice pass by Logan Shaw.
The second half of the game heated up when both teams exchanged goals in quick succession, including a nice shot by Richard that lit the lamp. Nico Daws came into the crease for the North Division, but Wolf remained in play for the Pacific.
Neither team scored in all three rounds of the shootout, so each division was awarded one point for the 2-2 tie.
Next it was time to pit the Atlantic Division against the Pacific Division. Riley Nash wasted no time lighting the lamp, scoring on the first shot of the game when he snuck the puck between Jesper Wellstedt and the left post.
Ethen Frank, who set a new league record for fastest skater on Sunday night, doubled that score for the Atlantic when he went bar down late in the first half.
Riley Barber got the Pacific Division on the board early in the second half when he got Brandon Bussi moving the wrong way and tapped the puck in backhand. Ruslan Iskhahov soon restores his division’s two-goal lead, however, when he put a puck right through Lukas Dostal.
Barber then scored a game-tying goal with about two minutes remaining, after Thomas Harley had brought the Pacific within a goal.
Alex Nylander scored the lone goal in overtime, giving the Atlantic Division two points on the night.
For game three, the Atlantic Division stayed on the ice to take on the Pacific Division. This time, however, it was basically all Pacific Division. The guys from out west scored six goals in their 10 minutes of play, as opposed to the two scored by the Atlantic – including a buzzer-beater by Iskhahov.
The fourth game, featuring North versus Central, was another one to end in a 2-2 tie, even through the shootout.
In the fifth game, the Pacific and Central divisions squared off, with the Pacific coming up with a big 5-2 victory to secure a place in the championship game.
Finally, in the sixth game, the fans were treated to a penalty shot in a matchup against the North and Atlantic divisions. In true dramatic fashion, this game also went to a shootout and it was the Atlantic Division who came out on top.
Seth Griffith got the scoring started for the Pacific Division in the first 30 seconds of the six-minute championship round.
In perhaps the most exciting moment, the Atlantic Division successfully pulled off an in-game goaltender change! But the Pacific maintained their one-goal lead to become the champions of the 2023 AHL All-Star Challenge.
After the game, goaltenders Dostal and Wolf were named as Most Valuable Players of the night.
AHL Report correspondent Chris G. caught up with both of the Laval players before and after the event. You can listen to their full interviews in the players below!
Anthony Richard Before All-Star Game
Anthony Richard After All-Star Game
Alex Belzile Before All-Star Game
Alex Belzile After All-Star Game