The American League began handing out its regular season hardware and the Hershey Bears already have their hands full.
Hershey placed three players on the AHL’s all-star teams and another player on the league’s all-rookie list.
Entering this weekend, the Bears and their 115 points are approaching the all-time AHL mark for points in a season (124). With just one more win, the Bears will pass the all-time record of 57 wins in a season. If the Bears win their final two games at the Giant Center this weekend, they will set a new mark for home wins in a season with 34.
Center Keith Aucoin and his linemate, Alexandre Giroux, headline the AHL’s first-team all-stars. Aucoin has been a mainstay among the AHL’s most dangerous offensive talents in regular seasons and this campaign has set a new career high in points at 100. Aucoin’s 35 goals to start the weekend are also a new career highpoint.
On Sunday, Giroux, last season’s MVP, became the 18th AHLer to hit 300 regular season goals in the circuit. A year removed from a 60-goal season with the Bears, Giroux’s 42 tallies still position him atop AHL scoring leaders to go with a career-best 53 assists.
Joining the Aucoin-Giroux pairing is Andrew Gordon, whom the AHL named to its second-team all-star group. The Nova Scotia native has assembled a breakout season with 36 goals and been a key component of the Bears’ AHL-leading power play.
Also headlining the first-team all-stars are Manchester goalie Jonathan Bernier, who is justifying his first-round pedigree in the Los Angeles organization. Bernier has been a workhorse in the Manchester net and started the weekend slate leading AHL goaltenders in save percentage (.936) and shutouts (eight) in just his second full pro season.
Worcester veteran Danny Groulx and rookie P.K. Subban of Hamilton make up the first-team all-star defense corps. A journeyman defender who is on his fifth club in as many seasons, Groulx has blossomed on the Sharks’ blueline, reaching career-best numbers in goals (11), assists (51) and points (62). Subban has already set a new Hamilton mark for goals by a defensemen (18) and owned a plus-43 rating at the time of his nomination.
Albany’s Jerome Samson rounds out the AHL’s first-team, courtesy of 37-39-76 numbers to start the weekend.
After a ho-hum start to his career at the AHL level over the past two seasons, Hamilton’s Cedrick Desjardins broke through as a legitimate goaltending prospect this season. Named a second-team AHL all-star this week, Desjardins owns a league-leading 1.93 goals-against average. Together with veteran Curtis Sanford, Desjardins and the Bulldogs had allowed just 165 goals over their first 74 games, best in the AHL.
Joining Desjardins are blueliners Maxime Noreau of Houston and Rochester veteran Clay Wilson. Up front, Springfield’s Charles Linglet would be the AHL’s comeback player of the year if the league awarded such an honor. Linglet is joined by Gordon and the perennially consistent Corey Locke of Hartford.
The AHL also announced its rookie all-star team on Wednesday.
At 37 wins and counting, Worcester’s workhorse goaltender Alex Stalock has set a new AHL record for wins by a rookie goaltender.
Defensemen John Carlson completed the Hershey representation who won honors this week. Joining Subban among the AHL’s top rookies, Carlson had four goals and 35 assists to go with a plus-37 mark with the Bears as of Friday. Carlson’s game-winning goal that captured a gold medal for Team USA in the World Junior Championship in January in Saskatoon adds further shine to the rookie’s resume.
Worcester’s second member of the all-rookie team is Logan Couture. Couture, taken ninth overall by the Sharks in 2007, cracked the 20-goal barrier and is on recall to San Jose.
Another top prospect on NHL recall, Portland’s Tyler Ennis, helps round out the rookie crop. Ennis is tied with Lake Erie’s Ryan Stoa for goals among freshman at 23. Lars Eller, a St. Louis prospect, is vying for the Peoria scoring lead.
From THN.com American League correspondent Patrick Williams, Around The AHL keeps tabs on the world’s second best circuit, details all the news and notes and profiling prospects destined for the next level. It appears every weekend only on TheHockeyNews.com.