AHL All-Star Weekend, how the Marlies fared, and why Laval’s event was an incredible experience for all
By Nick Barden1 year ago
AHL All-Star Weekend ruled, plain and simple.
Logan Shaw, Noel Hoefenmayer, and Joseph Woll were the three players from the Toronto Marlies selected to make the trip to Laval and participate in the two-day event.
Marlies head coach Greg Moore was chosen to coach the North Division as Toronto had the most points at the end of 2022. Also there was Marlies head athletic therapist Jordan Aube and head equipment manager Wil Burns.
Day one on Sunday night had the AHL All-Star Skills Competition for us. There were seven events in total, including a Puck Control Relay, the Fastest Skater, Rapid Fire, Hardest Shot, Accuracy Shooting, Pass and Score, and the Breakaway Relay.
Shaw and Woll participated in the Rapid Fire, Pass and Score, and Breakaway Relay. Hoefenmayer also participated in the Breakaway Relay, but he made it to the Hardest Shot challenge as well.
Before all of that, though, we were treated to introductions and the Marlies received a warm welcome from the crowd in Laval.
The first event that had Marlies participating was the Rapid Fire Challenge. Woll was up first and he was taking shots from former Marlie Brett Seney and Thomas Harley. Out of the 10 shots Woll faced, he stopped eight of them, helping the Eastern Conference win the event.
Woll and Providence Bruins’ netminder Brandon Bussi both stopped eight shots, the most of any goaltender in that event.
Shaw took shots with Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ Ronnie Attard against the San Diego Gulls’ Lukas Dostal. The pair had five goals, but were denied five times as well.
Next up was Hoefenmayer’s event, the Hardest Shot. A few people, including myself, thought the 24-year-old might win this event because of his very heavy shot. But the hardest shot he could pull off clocked in at 99.2 mph, good enough for second place.
Hoefenmayer was only behind Syracuse Crunch defenceman Darren Raddysh, who’s slap shot clocked in at a whopping 102.0 mph.
After these two events, it was all Woll for the rest of the night. The 24-year-old stole the show in the Pass and Score and Breakaway challenges, stopping seven of eight shots combined in both events.
One of the most entertaining parts about the AHL All-Star Skills Competition was that players were trying. Just look at the saves Woll was making. When you have players playing like that, it makes the event more fun for all. And that was the case on Sunday.
At the end of the night, there was awards given out to the winners of each of the individual challenges, plus the Top Goaltender Award. After having a stellar night, Woll was awarded the honours of being the best goaltender in the AHL All-Star Skills Competition.
A nice little tidbit that the NHL could take from this Skills Competition — the AHL took down the glass between each of the faceoff dots in each team’s zone. It allows fans to interact with the players more.
The next night, Monday, was the AHL All-Star Challenge — a three-on-three six-game round robin between the AHL’s four divisions. The two teams who had the most points from their games played in the finals.
Let me start off by saying this might’ve been the loudest I’ve heard an All-Star game in a very long time. The crowd in Laval was very into it, and after witnessing the NHL’s All-Star Weekend and how that went, it was nice to see fans in Quebec enjoying the festivities.
Just listen to how loud it was:
Woll, throughout the three games, stopped 10 of 12 shots he faced. He came up big for the North Division a couple of times on the night with his biggest save coming in game two.
Shaw tallied one goal and two assists on Monday night. Hoefenmayer also had two assists throughout the three games played.
The 30-year-old’s goal came in the second game, against the Central Division, after Jesper Wallstedt cleared the puck right to Shaw, which resulted in a breakaway. He made no mistake, obviously.
The most entertaining game of the night, for myself, was the Atlantic against the North Division. The crowd erupted after Belleville Senators forward Egor Sokolov tied it up at three a piece with 16 seconds left in the game.
It would go to a shootout that lasted 11 (!!) rounds and the Central Division’s Alexander Nylander ended it with a goal against Niko Daws to send them to the Championship Game against the Pacific Division.
In that game, Seth Griffith scored the only goal between both teams, and that came 18 seconds into the first period. The lone goal gave the Pacific Division the championship win on Monday night.
All in all, though, the Marlies had an incredible showing at the AHL All-Star Classic. From night one to night two, everyone was thoroughly entertained, which for the AHL, is really good to see.
Hopefully the NHL can follow suit for next year’s All-Star Weekend in Toronto.
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