The NHL and Europe’s top leagues own most of the Olympic personnel on display in Vancouver, but the American League is contributing a portion of the talent as well.
AHLers, of course, only represent the Olympic competition’s second-tier clubs. But in all, 132 players competing in Vancouver have logged AHL time at some point in their careers, including 12 members of Team Canada.
Defensemen headline the current AHL talent flow that made its way to Vancouver this month. Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, whom the Detroit Red Wings acquired earlier this month and assigned to Grand Rapids, is representing Norway and is probably the AHL’s biggest contribution, at least as far as name recognition goes. Tollefsen’s soon-to-be teammate with the Griffins, Sergei Kolosov, is representing Belarus.
Powerhouse Hamilton is also contributing to the Olympic effort, sending Swiss defenseman Yannick Weber. Sergei Kostitsyn, who played 16 games with the Bulldogs before being recalled to the Canadiens in late November, is a key part for the Belarusians. Hartford’s Andres Ambuhl joins Weber with the Swiss club.
Latvia is being represented by the most AHLers, taking three players into battle against a difficult pool made up of the Czech Republic, Russia and Slovakia. Norfolk’s Martins Karsums, who slumped terribly this season with the Admirals and was reassigned by the Lightning to Dynamo Riga of the Kontinental League, is skating alongside Kaspars Daugavins of Binghamton and former Adirondack and current Flyers defender Oskars Bartulis in Vancouver.
Old Manchester teammates and Canadians, Chris Schmidt and John Tripp are with Germany, as are Alexander Sulzer of Milwaukee and Portland’s Philip Gogulla. Thomas Greiss and Dmitri Patzold, who split net chores with the Worcester Sharks for two seasons, are reuniting to shoulder Germany’s goaltending load.
Behind Olympic benches, Mike Babcock, who piloted the now-defunct Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, is the coach of Team Canada. Babcock’s staff also features former AHLers Jacques Lemaire and Lindy Ruff. Team USA sports AHL alumnus Ron Wilson and assistant coaches John Tortorella and Scott Gordon.
THIS AND THAT
San Antonio netminder Justin Pogge picked up player of the week honors for a three-win performance this past weekend in which he allowed only three goals on 100 shots…
• The AHL will stage its first outdoor game Saturday afternoon when Syracuse hosts Binghamton at the New York State Fairgrounds. The NHL Network will broadcast the 1 p.m. EST start in Canada and the United States…
• AHL linesman Peter Feola is working the Games in Vancouver…
• Rochester failed in its bid to reach the 2,000-win franchise milestone with a loss on home ice to Manitoba on Tuesday…
• Hershey could tie and surpass the AHL mark for consecutive home wins (18) this weekend when they host Lake Erie and Albany. The 1996-97 Philadelphia Phantoms hold the record.
• Chicago has taken the Western Conference by the throat over the past two months. A 3-2 win over San Antonio Wednesday night left the Wolves with a 21-3-0-2 record since Dec. 19. Buried in the Western Conference at the start of the streak, the Wolves now hold the division lead. Peoria, on the other hand, held a 17-10-1-2 record on Dec. 19, but have registered only eight wins since and are 12 points out of a playoff spot entering this weekend.
• San Antonio is not quite in the AHL playoff race yet, but the barnstorming club is giving host teams fits this month. Heading into Friday, the Rampage had checked off the first 10 games of a 14-game road trip with a 6-2-0-2 record.
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.