Last night, the AHL All-Stars took on Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League in the All-Star Game, after a wild win in the Skills Competition the night before. This was a new take on an AHL tradition to have the best in the league face off against a team from Sweden. While teams from the AHL have occasionally made their way overseas to participate in the Spengler Cup, as the Rochester Americans did this season, this was the first time that a team from the SHL has come over to North America.
The first ever cross-league All-Star Classic in the AHL took place in front of a sold out Mile One Centre in St. John’s. It seemed like the predictions of it being a low scoring game were going to be true through the first part of the first period. But Binghamton’s Mike Hoffman got the AHL All-Stars on the board first. Bridgeport’s Ryan Strome and Abbotsford’s Ben Street quickly followed suit, putting the AHL All-Stars up 3-0 in a span of just over three minutes. Travis Morin of the Texas Stars, who leads the league in points, added one more tally to send the teams to the first intermission with the AHL leading 4-0.
About halfway through the second period, the teams made the goalie switch. Chicago Wolves’ Jake Allen left the net making a perfect 14 saves on 14 shots to be replaced by Dustin Tokarski of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Pekka Tuokkola replaced Frederik Pettersson-Wenztel for Farjestad. Less than 30 seconds after the goaltending switch, Rockford’s Brandon Pirri netted the only goal of the middle frame. The second period also saw the only penalty of the game, to Hoffman for hooking, but the best scoring chance was a shorthanded attempted by the AHL All-Stars.
Farjestad started the final period with a few second left on the power play, but it was just after the man advantage that they got on the board. Magnus Nygren, who shattered the AHL record for hardest shot the night before, fired one home from the blue line. From there, the teams traded off on scoring. Pirri added another one to regain the 5 goal lead. Farjestad captain Rickard Wallin answered back with the final goal of the night for his team. But, the AHL All-Stars would have the final say when Strome added his second with just under two minutes to go in the game.
With 2 goals and an assist, Brandon Pirri earned the honors as the Assante Wealth Management Most Valuable Player. Mike Hoffman, with a goal and two assists, was named AHL player of the game. Farjestad named Christian Berglund as their player of the game.
In addition to Pirri and Hoffman recording multiple points, Wilkes Barre’s Brian Gibbons and Albany’s Joe Whitney each had two assists. Dustin Tokarski made an impressive 20 saves on 22 shots, with Farjestad taking 17 shots just in the final period.
Farjestad had to log a lot of miles (or kilometers in their case) to make it all the way to St. John’s. Traveling there is not easy. But, to make their visit more worthwhile, they will next travel to Toronto to face off against the Marlies in an afternoon game on Saturday. After that, they head back before playing their final few games and hoping to head to the post season.