The 2010-2011 AHL season has finally begun much to the joy of its hockey crazed fans. The West Division saw all it’s teams have their season openers spread out over the three day weekend. Five of those teams had their home openers,of which only 2 won. Houston,Chicago, and Texas will all have their home openers on the 16th of Oct
San Antonio(PHX) had their home opener on Fri. the 8th facing off against the Chicago Wolves. San Antonio pulled off it’s 6 home opener win in a row Friday night with a very impressive offensive show,winning the mathup 6-3. Mathieu Beaudoin had 2 goals and 2 assists for SA; Scoring started 4:54 into the game when defenseman Garrett Stafford picked up a loose puck and wristed a shot past Chicago goaltender Drew MacIntyre in front of the 8,043 fans in attendance. Rampage tender Climie faced 29 shots by the Wolves in his first professional win. Eight different Rampage players notched at least one point in the win. Chicago Wolves netminder Drew MacIntyre faced 31 Rampage shots. Chicago got it’s first point of the season at 10:47 of the third period. The Wolves continued on to score 2 more goals, tallying 3 goals in less than 2 minutes. It was too little too late however. Jamie Hunt scored 2 of the 3 goals while under PP teamed up with Darren Haydar for both scores.
San Antonio faced the Texas Stars on Sunday with a small crowd of 3,441 watching,where there might have just a little awkwardness on the ice. Defenseman Garrett Stafford, forward Mathieu Beaudoin and goalie Matt Climie were all a part of the Stars 2010 Western Conference Championship squad. They were sent to Phoenix and subsequently sent to San Antonio. This was the Stars second year in the league as well as the second year starting their season on the road facing the Rampage. Where the Stars lost their first ever game in team history last year, they got their revenge Sunday with a win over the Rampage by way of the 3-0 shut out for Brent Krahn. Krahn stopped all 26 shots San Antonio threw at him. The winning goal goes to Scott McCulloch who slapped it in with 5:09 to go in the third period.The game remained tied up til then with a time total of 55:51 with no score. Rampage tender Matt Climie stopped 38 shots in the loss.
The Oklahoma City Barons(EDM) faced off against the Houston Aeros (MIN) on a Saturday night inaugural game at home as well. This is OKC’s first year in the AHL,sporting a brand new team after closing out their previous CHL team the Blazers in 2009. A crowd of 9,818 came out to support the new team. It was noticeable that the new Barons team had only 1 practice together before the opening night. The Barons fell to the Aeros 6-1 with Barons’ starting goaltender, Martin Gerber, facing all 26 of the Aero’s shots.The first goal in Oklahoma City Barons history was obtained by Teemu Hartikainen on a break away shot out of the penalty box.
Barons forward Alexandre Giroux, managed to get himself a 10 minute misconduct for abuse of official after having words after a delay of game by Houston, with 14:51 left in the third period. Giroux was at first said to not be dressed for Sunday’s game against the Wolves,but ended up being on the ice after all.
The Aeros didn’t even manage a shot on goal for the first 10 minutes of the game compared to the Barons 7, but still managed to manhandle the new,fresh team on their home ice. At 11:09 in the first, Houston took a 1-0 lead when left wing Colton Gilles scored on a pass from defenseman Jared Spurgeon. Goalie Hackett made his professional debut quite a showing. He stopped all but 1 of the Barons 31 SOG. The Aeros killed off all seven of the Barons power plays in strong fashion. Peter Kalus registered a three-point night and Joel Broda scored twice. Houston went 2-for-7 on the power play. The Aeros now have a 6 day break, making the trek back to OKC to once again face the Barons.
The Chicago Wolves went north on Saturday to face the Oklahoma City Barons for a Sunday afternoon game after taking on San Antonio Friday night. The Wolves managed to hand the Barons their second loss in as many days. Chicago beat the Barons 2-1 to get their first win of the season so far. Netminder Edward Pasquale stopped 28 of 29 shots in his professional debut; MacIntyre being called up by Atlanta as backup after goaltender Ondrej Pavelec freakishly collapsed Friday night on the ice against Washington. Teemu Hartikainen once again got the first and only goal for the Barons at 13:05 in the first period. Martin Gerber totalled 28 saves for the game,.Chicago’s Darren Haydar netted the game-winner for the Wolves at 8:30 of the second period. Gerber pulled out some great saves after the Barons got into penalty trouble late in the third, but their offense just couldn’t get anything going to score any more points. With 10 seconds left in the third,the Barons pull the goalie for the extra man and won the faceoff in Wolves territory. A great scoring chance that just missed the net handed the Wolves the victory.
*Wolves Moran skated off the ice under his own accord to the bench to conference with Wolves trainers as well in the second period of play Sunday afternoon. Monday the Wolves got MacIntyre back for their lineup.
**Richard Petiot of the Barons went down with an apparent leg injury. Still waiting for an official word.
The Peoria Rivermen(STL) went up against Manitoba for their opening season game,falling to the Moose 4-3 in a pretty evenly matched contest. SOG were tied at 33-33. Graham Mink made his debut memorable to Rivermen fans knocking in all three goals. . Manitoba’s Kevin Connauton scored the game winner on a wrist shot that beat Bishop through the legs in the third period. The Rivermen have just nine returning players from last season. Peoria also debuted the 2 official system being tried buy the AHL this season by select teams.
Peoria faced Milwaukee(NSH) Sunday afternoon and managed to pull out the win against the Admirals 3-2. The Riverman proved themselves a little better with scoring chances on just 28 shots on goal, not to mention all 3 goals scored in a 2:58 span of the first period.
Milwaukee replaced Chet Pickard with Mark Dekanich at the start of the second period, effectively shutting down any more goals from Peoria. Dekanich stopped all 17 Rivermen shots he faced after taking the net. A total of 38 shots on goal were taken in by Milwaukee. The Admirals scored their first goal on the power play at 3:12 of the second period. Kelsey Wilson slapped in his own rebound, for his first of the year. Both goals for the Admirals were on the power play.
Milwaukee also had their home opener this weekend taking on the Abbotsford Heat, having a great 6-2 win in front of the home crowd. The Admirals fell behind 2-0 in the first but continued on to score 6 unanswered goals to bring in the win. Forwards Linus Klasen and Matt Halischuk each had 2 goals each while Mark Van Guilder is credited with the game-winner on his first goal in the AHL. The fourth goal was practically a gift from the Heat’s Irving with 2:10 remaining in the second; the puck was cleared out of the zone during an Abbotsford PP and Irving stopped the puck then attempted to pass it. Instead, he dropped his stick. Irving grabbed the stick off the ice and didn’t see Halischuk closing in. The puck went right onto the Milwaukee forward’s stick and from there he just tapped it into the Heat’s net. Matt Keetley came in to relieve Irving at 11:07 of the third but still was the target of another goal by Halischuk for the sixth and final goal of the game.Mark Dekanich in goal for Milwaukee made 22 saves against the Heat earning the V.
The fifth home team this weekend, the Rockford Icehogs (CHI) had a pair of home games scheduled. First up was the Manitoba Moose on Saturday,who put the Icehogs away with a score of 5-2. Kyle Beach and Brandon Bollig had the two goals in the home opener loss for the Icehogs. Hannu Toivonen stopped 26 shots in a losing effort; Eddie Lack was able to stay alive throughout the third period to finish off with 23 saves for the Moose.
Sunday afternoon had the Icehogs facing off with foe Grand Rapids. All fans were treated however with the appearance of the Stanley Cup, Campbell Bowl, Norris and Conn Smythe trophies. The Icehogs parent team, the Chicago Blackhawks naturally winning the Stanley Cup this past season. The Blackhawks hosted their banner raising ceremony on Saturday night with the Cup still in attendance. After a tumultuous game of back and forth hockey,the Icehogs finally sealed the deal with a goal by Ryan Potulny who zipped a slap shot in at 10:56 in the third. Grand Rapids tender McCollum was handed the loss with a total of 28 shots stopped. Icehogs goalie Alec Richards recorded 25 saved shots.