A Look Back On AHL All-Star Weekend

Providence Bruins

After attending my first American Hockey League All-Star festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts, I was amazed at the upcoming prospects in the pipelines for each National Hockey League organization. The amount of talent presented in the skills competition and games are amazing to see. Hartford’s lone all-star selection belonged to John Gilmour. This was his second trip back to the special event.

From the fan’s standpoint, I highly recommend you to attend the NHL or AHL All-Star weekend when you get a chance. Prior to the events, I was excited as if I was going to a hockey game in Hartford. That feeling changed suddenly when I arrived. The atmosphere was just more than a hockey game, it was unreal. Coming to the hockey rink without a worry about the Wolf Pack or standings was a pleasant feeling. I was able to have fun and enjoy myself regardless of who wins on both nights. The energy that the players produced was noticeably different, all smiles and pleasant interactions with fans. The night was just getting started when I parked in the garage on Sunday night for the AHL All-Star Competition.

If only the NHL does this, but the feeling of watching warmups and the competitions without glass in front of you is an indescribable feeling. You feel the impact, you get to mingle with the players, and you feel as if you are part of the action. I was unable to pass up the opportunity to sit on the glass when I purchased tickets roughly a year ago.

The first night featured a slew of events. Rangers prospect John Gilmour was entering the night defending his fastest skater attempt. Unfortunately for the young defenseman, he was beaten by this year’s winner, Anthony Greco of the Springfield Thunderbirds. John Gilmour has the speed, but a few hiccups costed him the precious seconds. You can check out his attempt below.

Despite not winning the fastest skater competition for the AHL East, the prospect tried to help in other competitions. Below are the winners from each event:

  • Fastest Skater– Anthony Greco with a lap of 13.251 seconds, the fastest in AHL history. His time would’ve been better than Connor McDavid for the fastest skater in the NHL All-Star festivities. That’s impressive. The prospect belongs to the Florida Panthers organization and he is on the Springfield Thunderbirds.
  • Puck Control Relay– Anthony Greco.
  • Hardest Shot– Greg Carey of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia). His shot was clocked at 100.4 miles per hour.
  • Accuracy Shooting– Reid Boucher of the Utica Comets (Vancouver) and Francis Perron of the San Jose Barracuda (Sharks) shared the win as both broke four targets in six attempts. Points were awarded to both conferences.
  • Top Goaltender– Kaapo Kahkonen won the top goaltender award with 16 saves on 18 attempts in the night. That includes eight stops in rapid fire and saved all attempts in the pass and score breakaway relay.

You can see a list of all players in each event here. Eventually, the West came back in the late stages of the competition, defeating the East 10-4 in the breakaway relay and would win the evening with a final score of 17-14.

The party was shifting from the Mass Mutual Center to MGM Springfield. Before doing so, the league does an automatic autograph with the players on ice before the players leave for the evening. Here are a few pictures from that time.

Then as the night went on, I attended the AHL post skills party at MGM Springfield. Players, league officials, fans, and AHL Hall of Fame Inductees attended the social event.

Monday was another day of fun. After Dave Andrews completed the State of the AHL Address, the AHL inducted John Anderson, Don Cherry, Murray Eaves, and a former Wolf Pack great, Brad Smyth.

Able to see a former Wolf Pack great get inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame was awesome in person. The honor is not common in the hockey world. Many Pack fans know about Brad Smyth, known as “shooter”. He was acquired by the Rangers in 1997 and helped Hartford win their sole Calder Cup in the 1999-2000 season. The forward spent time in the organization until the 2001-02 season. Then in 2005-06, he played in 22 games with Hartford.

Later that night featured the event of the weekend, the AHL All-Star Game. The night featured 3v3 action between each division (Atlantic, North, Central, Pacific).

Eventually, the North won the All-Star Game as they defeated the Atlantic Division 1-0 in the shootout in the championship match. John Gilmour had a three-goal evening for the Atlantic Division. The North Division has won the All-Star Game in back to back seasons. In my recent article, you can watch John Gilmour’s goals here.

Looking back at all the fun I had last weekend in Springfield, it was truly worth the wait. The events are unique and taking in the atmosphere around you is amazing. Great job by MGM Springfield, the Springfield Thunderbirds, AHL, and the Mass Mutual Center for conducting this thrilling event. I look forward to attending the all-star festivities in the future if they are close to Hartford again.