(Due to personal happenings, this was delayed a day– but luckily; none of the leagues played Monday. Therefore, it’s still all fresh.)
-Though their Saturday night comeback against Syracuse came up short, the Hershey Bears are quietly making a big leap to be the favorite coming out of the Eastern Conference. Philipp Grubauer stopped 50 of 51 shots he faced in the two of three games he played, both wins, while Pheonix Copley held down the fort Saturday despite getting down early and stopped 30 of 32 when losing in a shootout. Casey Wellman‘s four assists had him in the playmaker role, as Chandler Stephenson and Kris Newbury potted two goals on the weekend. Even more special was Connor Carrick registering the 20,000th goal in Bears’ history– the first team to do that in the AHL and second only to the Montreal Canadiens. Hershey has points in their last seven games and are third in the Eastern Conference, five points behind 1st place Syracuse.
-It was an explosive weekend for the Hartford Wolf Pack, especially when it came to Joey Crabb and Danny Kristo, who put up three goals a piece in the two Wolf Pack wins. Crabb has had five of his nine goals in the past nine games and has seemingly found his game since being out with the mumps in the middle of December. Kristo has been on a bit of a slump as he only has four goals in his last 17 games. One of the bigger hang-ups for the Wolfpack could be the consistency of the goaltending as Yann Danis let up six goals on Friday, though Mackenzie Skapski only let up one goal on 23 shots. The rookie Skapski is 20th in AHL in GAA (2.38), the best amongst the Wolf Pack goalies this year– which may be rough if Hartford wants to go far in the Calder Cup Playoffs this year.
-With two wins this weekend, the Reading Royals bumped their winning streak to seven games. Sean Wiles had two goals on Saturday to end his solid month (8g, 3a), while Zach Davies contributed a goal and two assists on the weekend from the blue-line. The goaltending tandem of Martin Ouellette and Connor Knapp each faced 31 shots in their starts with Ouellette stopping 30 and Knapp stopping 29. The win streak has the Royals up to second in the South Division, four points behind the Florida Everblades.
-With a stable roster, the Quad City Mallards are getting back into their comfort zone. The returning Mario Lamoureux put up three assists with Justin Fox putting up a goal and assists in wins against Wichita and Brampton. The power play for the Mallards accounted for four of the six goals over the weekend, while Parker Milner and Evan Mosher only let in one goal a piece. As they stand in a logjam for second in the Central Division, the Mallards could have a solid boost with all their players returning from the AHL and injury, just in time for a playoff push.
-With a pair of 4-3 overtime wins, the Peoria Rivermen have boosted back up to the top spot in the SPHL, though being in a tie with the Knoxville Ice Bears. Sean Morra had three goals and an assist on the weekend, including the game-winner on Friday against the Louisiana IceGators. Kyle Rank added two more wins to his league-leading 18, while team scoring leader Josh Harris had the game-winner on Saturday night while also giving Pensacola their sixth-straight loss.
-It was a second-straight sweep weekend for the Mississippi RiverKings, who took out Pensacola and Huntsville this weekend, which has put them five points out of the top spot in 4th. Ryan Marcuz had two goals and two assists and Byron Paulazzo putting up a goal and two assists. Adam Courchaine and Peter Di Salvo split the wins on the weekend.