Ryan Craig captained another team to a championship win on Monday after the Central Division topped the Atlantic Division in the 2017 AHLL All-Star Challenge Championship.
Craig didn’t score a goal during any of the games. However, he had three shots on goal and helped set up a few integral plays.
Oliver Bjorkstrand put up two goals and one assist on only four shots.
Anton Forsberg spent 17:50 on ice saving 17 of the 20 shots he faced. Even more impressive was the 6 of 7 shots Forsberg stopped in the shootout.
Forsberg stood tall in every game he played during the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge. He was able to track player’s movements all the way from the red line and wasn’t afraid to go one-on-one with the opposition.
Below is a recap of how each game went.
Game 1: Central (1) vs Atlantic (2)
Around the four-minute mark of the first period, Mackenzie Weeger drove to the front of the net and popped the puck behind Michael Leighton.
Thirty seconds later, T.J. Brennan passed the puck from behind the net to Travis Boyd who was set up in front of the net. Boyd would fire the puck into the net behind Leighton giving the Atlantic a 2-0 lead over the Central.
Four minutes into the second period Alex Tuch skates around the net and passes to Oliver Bjorkstrand who rips one top shelf. The Central was finally on the board.
The Central was unable to get another goal before the clock ran down on game one.
- Jack Roslovic knows how to apply the pressure during high-intensity moments.
- Zane McIntyre and Tristan Jarry were top notch during the first game. They had a few no look saves and were able to stuff point blank shots without flinching.
- Oliver Bjorkstrand never stops working. Missing a goal only fires him up more.
Game 2: Pacific (3) vs North (6)
Daniel O’Regan started things off on a positive note for the Pacific after scoring 24 seconds into the first period.
Cole Schneider fired back to tie things up for the North 40 seconds later.
Two minutes into the period, AJ Greer fires from the dots and gets the puck into the net past Charlie Lindgren’s blocker. After Greer’s goal, the Pacific took the lead, 2-1.
The Pacific only had the lead for the next 52 seconds.
Cory Conacher passes to Kerby Rychel who broke around traffic to go glove side on Troy Grosenick to tie things up at two.
Thirty-seven seconds into the second period, Chris Terry accepts a pass from Rychel and puts the puck into the back of the net. The North now led the Pacific, 3-2.
A minute and a half later, John Campbell went within inches of the boards to play the puck to his Pacific teammates only to have the puck stolen by Justin Bailey. Yes, Justin Bailey stole the puck from the goalie. Campbell tried to get back into position before Bailey rounded the back of the net. Bailey was too quick for Campbell and poked the puck into the net to extend the North’s lead to 4-2.
Not even 15 seconds later Justin Bailey fires another shot under Campbell's left glove. The North extended their lead to 5-2.
Three minutes into the second period Casey Bailey received a no-look pass from Alexandre Grenier and rips it into the top half of the net. It is now 6-2 in favor of the North.
With one second left on the clock, Kyle Wood scooped up a rebound and fired the puck past Linus Ullmark.
The Pacific would drop their first game of the night to the North, 6-3.
- Kerby Rychel is another hard worker on the ice. If Rychel wants a goal, he will do just about anything to score. During this game, we saw Rychel outmuscle the competition and skate through highly congested areas to get close to the net.
- I have never seen a player steal a puck from a goalie. Justin Bailey impressed me with his quick thinking on that play.
Game 3: Central (2) vs North (1) - Shootout
With thirty seconds left in the first period, Casey Bailey gets a nice set up from Justin Bailey and beats Forsberg on the left side. This put the North on the board first.
A minute into the second period, Alex Tuch goes uncontested from the top of the circle before backhanding the puck over Charlie Lindgren’s right pad.
Regulation wasn’t enough time to settle this matchup. A shootout would have to determine the winner.
Cole Schneider - Forsberg thought Schneider was going to go top shelf but he snuck the puck into the net. - Goal
Kenny Agostino- Agostino fired the puck into the net over Lindgren - Goal
Chris Terry - Forsberg tracked every move Terry made and was able to kick save the puck - No Goal
Spencer Abbott - Abott faked out Lindgren giving him the opening to poke the puck into the net. - Goal
Alexandre Grenier - Forsberg stuffed Grenier. - No Goal
The Central would take the 2-1 win over the North.
- Casey and Justin Bailey are both playmakers and goal scorers. They know their role and play it with ease.
- Anton Forsberg is a fun goalie to watch in the shootout. He exudes both confidence and skill.
Game 4: Pacific (1) vs Atlantic (6)
The Atlantic came out fast and furious in this game.
Three minutes into the period, Jack Campbell thought T.J. Brennan was going to take the puck around the net. Brennan had other ideas and popped the puck over Campbell's blocker to put the Atlantic on the board first.
At the four and a half minute mark of the first period, Jordan Weal fired from the top corner to extend the Atlantic's lead, 2-0, over the Pacific.
With 20 seconds left in the period, Christian Fischer backhands the puck across the ice to O'Regan who popped it into the corner of the net. This would be the Pacific's first and last goal of the game.
Ten seconds later, Chris Bourque speeds down the ice and fires the puck at Campbell. Everyone thought it was going to go wide but it sailed through the five hole to extend the Atlantic's lead, 3-1, over the Pacific.
Thirty-five seconds into the second period, Travis Boyd put the Atlantic up, 4-1, after he tucked the puck around a sprawled out Troy Grosenick.
Fifteen seconds later, Taylor Leier flew down the wings and buried the puck from the hash marks. The Atlantic was now up, 5-1, over the Pacific.
In the final minute of play, David Warsofsky, Chris Bourque, and Taylor Leier made a series of beautiful tape-to-tape passes before Leier finally popped the puck in past Grosenick.
The Atlantic would win this round, 6-1, over the Pacific.
- Taylor Leier is an incredibly skilled player. He has pinpoint accuracy, speed, and does well in battles. I’m glad the Monsters don’t have to see him during the regular season
Game 5: Pacific (3) vs Central (5)
The Central set the pace for the game by scoring two goals in the first 30 seconds of play. The first came seven seconds into the game from Matt Lorito. The second came 14 seconds later from Kenny Agostino. They assisted each others goals.
Forty-three seconds into the period, Alex Tuch goes right between the legs of Groesnick after a breakaway. It looked as though he was going to take the shot but decided to skate one handed through traffic before firing the puck. Central now led the Pacific, 3-0.
Three minutes later, Matej Stransky passed the puck from behind the net to Christian Fischer who fired it past Michael Leighton. The Pacific was finally on the board.
Almost a minute later, Jack Roslovic fired a rocket at Grosenick. Oliver Bjorkstrand deflected the puck into the net to extend the Central's lead over the Pacific, 4-1.
During intermission, Campbell replaced Grosenick in net. Forsberg would also replace Leighton
The Central would start the scoring off in the second period after Lorito popped the puck over Campbell.
The Pacific would manage to tally two more goals before the end of the game.
The first one was a Kyle Wood shot which bounced off of Jack Roslovic's skate and into the net behind Forsberg. Neither Roslovic or Forsberg saw that coming.
The second was in the final four seconds of play. Stransky backhanded the puck to O'Regan who managed to pop it into the net over the top of Forsberg.
The Central would take this game from the Pacific, 5-3.
- Anton Forsberg had a lot of long shots from the net during this game. If this is any indicator of what’s to come this season, we could see Forsberg score a goal this season.
Game 6: North (0) vs Atlantic (2)
Three minutes into the first period, Mackenzie Weeger sends the puck around the net to Nicklas Jensen who throws it into the net behind Linus Ullmark. Jensen’s goal put the Atlantic on the board first.
With a minute and a half left in the game, Charlie Lindgren was pulled from net. Taylor Leier tosses the puck into the empty net to seal the win for the Atlantic.
- Considering the circumstances, the North plays fairly well under pressure.
- Jordan Subban tends to fly under the radar but once the oppostion realizes he is a problem they apply a lot of pressure.
- Tristan Jarry does well in one-on-one situations. He stopped every breakaway attempt that came his way.
Championship: Central (1) vs Atlantic (0) - SO
Six minutes wasn’t enough to decide a winnerof the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge. This game was going to be decided in a shootout.
Jordan Weal – Weal weaved in and out keeping the puck on his forehand before firing it off the goal post. - No Goal
Kenny Agostino – Agostino tried to go through Zane McIntyre's five hole but was stopped. - No Goal
Chris Bourque – Bourque tried to fake Forsberg out and is stopped. - No Goal
Spencer Abbott – Stopped by McIntyre's right pad. - No Goal
Travis Boyd – Boyd slowed down, faked a move, and decided to backhand the puck before Forsberg stuffed him. - No Goal
Oliver Bjorkstrand – Bjorkstrand fired the puck towards the crossbar but McIntyre grabbed it out of the air. - No Goal
Taylor Leier – Leier headed straight for Forsberg before losing control of the puck and whiffing. - No Goal
Matt Lorito – Lorito poked the puck into the net behind McIntyre. - Goal
The Central wins the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge.
- Oliver Bjorkstrand and Alexandre Carrier play well together. They both have massive amounts of patience and listen to one another.
- Todd Neleson decided to do a goalie change on the fly. More specifically as Forsberg was coming into the net players from both teams were barreling down the ice towards him. Nelson is either a ballsy coach, a fun coach, or both.