The American Hockey League wrapped up their All-Star Classic Weekend in Atlantic City, NJ on Monday night. The Western Conference came back from a 6-2 deficit to tie the game as regulation time wound down, then prevailed in a shootout, 8-7.
Cam Atkinson was the only representative in the Classic of the Springfield Falcons. Atkinson, named to the starting lineup, made his presence felt early when he assisted on the East's second goal of the game, just over three minutes into the first period.
By the end of the period, the East's lead ballooned to a margin of 6-2. The goalie on the receiving end of the half dozen was none other than Matt Hackett of the Houston Aeros. Hackett, you may recall, saw some unexpected and successful NHL action earlier in the season for the Minnesota Wild.
The West put up three unanswered goals in the second period, setting up a wide open and exciting third period.
Cory Conacher (who will be coming to Springfield with his Norfolk Admirals this weekend), tied for the AHL lead in goals with 25, gave the East a two goal margin halfway through the final period. Two minutes later, TJ Hensick pulled the West back to within one goal. Kevin Connauton brought the West all the way back when he scored on Tyson Sexsmith of the Worcester Sharks, in goal for the East.
Rather than play any overtime hockey, the teams went straight to a shootout. Ben Bishop of the Peoria Rivermen (and St. Louis Blues) was great in the third period. He showed more of that in the shootout, as he stopped all four Eastern shooters he faced, sealing the victory as he earned the game's MVP honors.
The AHL will get back to action on Thursday night. The Falcons will have an extra day off, and get back to business on Friday night.