P-Bruins Vatrano and Griffith Named First Team AHL All-Stars
AHL news release…
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League has announced the 2015-16 AHL First and Second All-Star Teams, as voted by coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities.
2015-16 AHL First All-Star Team (stats through Apr. 6)
Goaltender – Peter Budaj, Ontario Reign (57gp, 39-14-4, 1.75gaa, .931sv%, 9so)
Defenseman – T.J. Brennan, Toronto Marlies (67gp, 24+43=67pts., +36, 8 PPG)
Defenseman – Brandon Montour, San Diego Gulls (64gp, 12+43=55pts., 30 PP pts.)
Left Wing – Chris Bourque, Hershey Bears (67gp, 28+45=73pts., +12, 9 PPG, 5 GWG)
Center – Frank Vatrano, Providence Bruins (33gp, 33+16=49pts., +17, 12 PPG)
Right Wing – Seth Griffith, Providence Bruins (51gp, 22+45=67pts., +12, 4 GWG)
2015-16 AHL Second All-Star Team (stats through Apr. 6)
Goaltender – Matt Murray, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (31gp, 20-9-1, 2.10gaa, .931sv%, 4so)
Defenseman – Will O’Neill, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (68gp, 8+38=46pts., +3, 4 PPG)
Defenseman – Robbie Russo, Grand Rapids Griffins (65gp, 5+34=39pts., +47)
Left Wing – Mikko Rantanen, San Antonio Rampage (48gp, 22+35=57pts., +19, 4 GWG)
Center – Dustin Jeffrey, Springfield Falcons/WBS Penguins (58gp, 19+41=60pts., +10, 3 GWG)
Right Wing – Mike Sislo, Albany Devils (54gp, 27+25=52pts., +16, 14 PPG)
Each All-Star Team member will receive a custom-designed crystal award in recognition of his selection to the 2015-16 AHL First and Second All-Star Teams.
The winners of the 2015-16 Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award (sportsmanship, determination, dedication to hockey) and Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award (outstanding coach) will be announced Friday.
2015-16 AHL First All-Star Team
Peter Budaj, Goaltender (Ontario Reign):
Rebounding from a 2014-15 season in which he was winless in 19 AHL appearances (0-9-6), Peter Budaj has backstopped Ontario to the Pacific Division title in 2015-16. The 14th-year pro has set a career high for minutes played in a season (3,395) and has started 57 of the Reign’s first 64 games (39-14-4), leading the league in wins, goals-against average (1.75) and shutouts (9) while ranking third in save percentage (.931) and second in shots faced (1,437) and total saves (1,338). Budaj also made his return to the National Hockey League this season, earning the win for Los Angeles on Feb. 12 vs. the New York Rangers.
T.J. Brennan, Defenseman (Toronto Marlies):
The leading scorer on the AHL’s top offensive team this season, T.J. Brennan leads AHL defensemen in goals (24), assists (43, tied) and points (67) and is among all AHL skaters in plus/minus (+36) in 67 games played. Brennan, who was also a First Team All-Star in 2013-14, is tied for second in the league’s overall scoring race and has authored 18 multiple-point games, including a five-point performance vs. Rochester on Feb. 27. The native of Willingboro, N.J., appeared in his third consecutive AHL All-Star Classic and also has one goal in five National Hockey League contests with the parent Maple Leafs this season.
Brandon Montour, Defenseman (San Diego Gulls):
Selected by Anaheim in the second round (55th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Brandon Montour ranks third among all AHL rookies and ranks second among all defensemen in scoring this season, with 55 points (12 goals, 43 assists) in 64 games for playoff-bound San Diego. The 21-year-old native of Brantford, Ont., also leads the entire league in power-play scoring, contributing a point on 30 of the Gulls’ 51 power-play goals on the year. Montour, who turned pro last spring after completing his freshman season at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, is the first rookie blueliner named to the First All-Star Team since Justin Schultz and Sami Vatanen in 2012-13.
Chris Bourque, Left Wing (Hershey Bears):
A First Team All-Star for the second year in a row and third time in his career, Chris Bourque returned to Hershey this season and has had another stellar campaign. After notching his 500th career AHL point on opening night, Bourque has gone on to lead the AHL in scoring with 73 points (28 goals, 45 assists) in 67 games as he closes in on his second career scoring title. The three-time Calder Cup winner and Boston native also skated in his fourth career AHL All-Star Classic, and has climbed into seventh place on the Bears franchise’s all-time scoring list.
Frank Vatrano, Center (Providence Bruins):
Frank Vatrano has been nearly unstoppable during his time in Providence this season, scoring a league-leading 33 goals in 33 games for the P-Bruins. Poised to become just the fourth player in AHL history to average a goal a game while scoring at least 30, Vatrano has also peppered opposing goalies with 172 shots on goal (5.2 per game) and recorded three hat tricks, including tying an AHL record with three unassisted goals in a single game on Mar. 6 vs. Portland. The 22-year-old native of East Longmeadow, Mass., and UMass-Amherst product has also appeared in 37 NHL games with Boston this season, tallying eight goals and three assists.
Seth Griffith, Right Wing (Providence Bruins):
Third-year pro Seth Griffith has had a breakout season in Providence in 2015-16, posting 22 goals and 45 assists for 67 points in just 51 games for the AHL Bruins and establishing career highs in all three offensive categories. Currently tied for the AHL lead in assists and tied for second in points, Griffith has notched a pair of five-point games this season, and was the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for December after notching 17 points in 11 contests. The 23-year-old native of Wallaceburg, Ont., was a fifth-round draft choice by Boston in 2012 and has skated in four NHL games with the parent Bruins this season.
2015-16 AHL Second All-Star Team
Matt Murray, Goaltender (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins):
Coming off a historic rookie season last year, Matt Murray continued to impress in 2015-16, going 20-9-1 in 31 appearances for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and ranking second in the AHL in both goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.931). Murray, who was voted both the outstanding rookie and outstanding goaltender in the AHL in 2014-15, has also been impressive in the NHL, where he is 8-2-0 (1.98, .930) in 11 games with Pittsburgh since making his debut on Dec. 19. A 21-year-old native of Thunder Bay, Ont., Murray was a third-round pick by the Penguins in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Will O’Neill, Defenseman (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins):
An offseason addition by the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, Will O’Neill was voted a Second Team All-Star on the strength of his eight goals and 38 assists for 46 points in 68 games from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton blue line this year. The fourth-year pro from Salem, Mass., has matched his career high in assists and is two off his personal best in points while also contributing to a Penguins defense that has allowed the fewest goals in the Atlantic Division. Originally drafted by Atlanta in 2006, O’Neill played three seasons in the Winnipeg Jets system, reaching the Calder Cup Finals with St. John’s in 2014.
Robbie Russo, Defenseman (Grand Rapids Griffins):
In his first pro campaign after a stellar four-year collegiate career at Notre Dame, Robbie Russo has tallied five goals and 34 assists for 39 points in 65 games for Grand Rapids in 2015-16 while posting a plus-47 rating that is tied for the highest mark by an AHL player since 1993. Russo, who has been on the ice for only 28 even-strength goals by the opposition all season, has also contributed offensively, ranking third among AHL rookie blueliners in scoring and closing in on the franchise record for assists by a rookie (36, Gustav Nyquist). A 23-year-old native of Westmont, Ill., Russo signed with the Detroit Red Wings on Aug. 16, 2015.
Mikko Rantanen, Left Wing (San Antonio Rampage):
It has been a memorable season for Mikko Rantanen, who currently leads all AHL rookies in scoring with 57 points (22 goals, 35 assists) despite appearing in just 48 games for San Antonio. The 10th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Rantanen began the season in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche before joining the Rampage, where he has been held off the scoresheet just nine times in his 48 outings. A 19-year-old native of Nousiainen, Finland, Rantanen skated in the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic – where he was the second-youngest AHL participant in the event’s modern history – and won a gold medal while captaining his country’s team at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Dustin Jeffrey, Center (Springfield Falcons/WBS Penguins):
Eighth-year pro Dustin Jeffrey earns his first career postseason All-Star honor in 2015-16. Jeffrey ranks fourth in the AHL in scoring with 60 points (19 goals, 41 assists) in 58 games split between Springfield and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and is still the Falcons’ top scorer this season despite having joined the Penguins on Feb. 29 following a trade between Arizona and Pittsburgh. Jeffrey, a native of Sarnia, Ont., made his second AHL All-Star Classic appearance this season and also skated in seven NHL games with the Coyotes, notching one goal and one assist.
Mike Sislo, Right Wing (Albany Devils):
Skating in 54 games with Albany to date, fifth-year pro Mike Sislo has established career highs in goals (27), assists (25), points (52) and plus/minus (+16), helping the Devils to one of the best record in the AHL. Sislo’s 14 power-play goals are tops in the league this season, and his run of eight consecutive games scoring a goal from Feb. 6-24 was tied for the longest such streak by an AHL player in four years. A native of Superior, Wis., Sislo appeared in his first AHL All-Star Classic and has also skated in 17 games with New Jersey this season, scoring his first two NHL goals in a win over Minnesota on Mar. 17.