Brendan Leipsic and Kasperi Kapanen have both been selected to represent the North Division at the 2017 AHL All-Star event.
It’s the second time Leipsic has received the honour, having been a late addition to the 2015 Western Conference team. The winger was still a part of the Nashville organization at that stage while playing his rookie season with the Milwaukee Admirals.
Leipsic will have fond memories of the event hosted in Utica, having scored a hat trick for the Western Conference as they prevailed 14-12 over the East. Leipsic has 30 points through 26 games this season and is on a career-high pace in every department.
Kasperi Kapanen has been the Marlies best player so far this season and thoroughly deserves his first recognition as an AHL all-star. Having already surpassed last season’s point tally, Kapanen is also on pace to hit 30 goals this year — a feat not accomplished by a Marlie since Ryan Hamilton in 2012-13. (Interesting note: Almost exactly 17 years ago, Kapanen’s father was selected for the NHL all-star festivities hosted in Toronto. Sami Kapanen won the fastest skater competition but failed to score when representing “Team World”.)
Andrew Nielsen also would have been a strong candidate for All-Star recognition, having impressed offensively during his rookie season. Sixth overall in rookie scoring and sixth among all AHL defensemen, Nielsen missed out in what is basically a numbers game. Each team has to be represented by a least one player and only three defensemen are selected.
North Division Roster
A familiar name also selected to the North Division roster is Casey Bailey. Traded to Ottawa as part of the Dion Phaneuf trade, Bailey is the lone Binghamton Senators representative with 14 points through 28 games this season.
North Division Roster
F Casey Bailey, Binghamton Senators (1st appearance)
F Joe Blandisi, Albany Devils (1st)
F Yanni Gourde, Syracuse Crunch (1st)
F Kasperi Kapanen, Toronto Marlies (1st)
F Brendan Leipsic, Toronto Marlies (2nd)
F John Quenneville, Albany Devils (1st)
F Cole Schneider, Rochester Americans (1st)
D Jordan Subban, Utica Comets (1st)
D Mark Barberio, St. John’s IceCaps (3rd)
D Matt Taormina, Syracuse Crunch (3rd)
G Charlie Lindgren, St. John’s IceCaps (1st)
G Linus Ullmark, Rochester Americans (1st)
Coach: Benoit Groulx, Syracuse Crunch (1st)
The 2017 AHL All-Star classic will be hosted at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
The Skills Competition will be held on January 29, with seven different events to be contested including puck control relay, fastest skater competition, rapid fire, hardest shot, accuracy shooting, pass and score drill and the breakaway relay.
The following day will see the four teams (North, Atlantic, Pacific and Central) participate in a round-robin tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each, played entirely at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played at 3-on-3.
The Central Division were victorious last year, defeating their Atlantic rivals 4-0, while MVP honours were awarded to the Chicago Wolves captain, Pat Cannone.