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PlanetUSA Prevails On Record-Setting Night

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By the time you read this, today has turned into tomorrow and the AHL All-Star Game here in Worcester, Mass. would have been played yesterday. Got all that? Man, it has been a looooooong day.

PlanetUSA, comprised of players born anywhere but Canada, beat the Canadian all-stars, 14-11, in Monday's game, setting an all-star record for most total goals. It was just one of several single-game records set, including:

* Most points: 7, by PlanetUSA forward Jared Ross (1g, 6a), the game MVP

* Most assists: 6, by Ross

* Most goals: 4, by Canadian forward Corey Locke of Houston

* Most goals, one team: 14, PlanetUSA

* Most goals, one period: 9, PlanetUSA, third

* Most points, one period: 5, by Ross (1g, 4a), PlanetUSA forward Ryan Potulny of Springfield (2g, 3a), third

* Most assists, one period: 4, by Ross, third

Albany's Michael Ryan had two goals and an assist in his all-star debut, continuing his hot hand from the regular season, where he has scored 13 goals in the last 10 games, including three hat tricks. He nearly came up with an all-star hat trick, as well, but at 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds, was outreached for a centering pass by 6-4, 205-pound teammate Artem Anisimov for an easy tip-in.

"He's just bigger, with a longer stick," Ryan said. "He was able to get a blade on it."

Ryan scored both his goals in the second period, each against Houston goalie Barry Brust, who was also kind enough to throw a clearing pass directly in Ryan's direction and allowed him to skate in alone up the slot for a wrister between the pads. He hoped his Albany linemate, Jakub Petruzalek, was watching.

"Petro would have thought it was very European of me to kick it up to my skate blade," Ryan said.

Ryan was also denied on three great scoring attempts. He was stoned by Rochester's Mike Brodeur on a breakaway with 2:05 left in the first period, and foiled twice on the same shift at opposite posts by Brust in the first 1 1/2 minutes of the second.

He was not credited with a shot in the third period, leaving him with eight for the game, one shy of the all-star game record set by Martin St. Pierre in Toronto in 2007.

"I just wanted to try and get into it as best I could, and figured I'd fire some on net," he said. "I joke with Chris Bourque because he usually shoots everything."

"Learn to pass the puck," Bourque, Ryan's PlanetUSA teammate and hometown friend, said as he walked past. "Most selfish guy in the league."

Sharing in the $500 bonus given to each winning player was former Rats captain Keith Aucoin. Making his fourth consecutive all-star game appearance for his third different team (Lowell, Albany, Hershey), Aucoin was held scoreless with one shot and was minus-3. Aucoin has yet to score an all-star goal.

"Someday I'll get one," Aucoin said. "At least we got the win."

Aucoin's Hershey captain and teammate, ex-Rats defenseman Bryan Helmer, was Canada's playing captain. Not only did he outscore Aucoin with two points (1g, 1a), but he was tied with three other players, including another former Albany rear guard, Lake Erie's Kyle Cumiskey, at plus-6.

"Oh, I'm going to bug him on that, I'll tell you what," Helmer said. At 36, he was not the oldest player to score an AHL all-star goal. Kip Miller was 37 when he scored the first goal in 2007.

The goal was notable for Helmer, though: it was his first one this season. He has none with 19 assists in 35 games for Hershey.

"I was so psyched," said Helmer, whose all-star coach was the Bears' Bob Woods. "Woody came down the bench and said, 'It's about time.' "

The ex-Rats all-star report went like this:

* Helmer, Hershey (Canada) 1g, 1a, plus-6, 2 shots

* Cumiskey, Lake Erie (Canada) 1g, 1a, plus-6, 1 shot

* Chris Minard, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Canada) 0 pts, minus-2, 3 shots

* Johnny Boychuk, Providence (Canada) 0 pts, minus-5, 0 shots

* Tyler Weiman, Lake Erie (Canada) 15 shots faced, 8 saves, 7 goals allowed, 2 empty-net goals against, 19:05 minutes played in third period

* Aucoin, Hershey (PlanetUSA), 0 pts, minus-3, 1 shot

Ross is a feel-good story because he was selected to the 2008 all-star game in Binghamton but forced to miss it when he needed an emergency appendectomy following a game for Philly. This year, he was a late replacement for teammate Claude Giroux, on recall to the Flyers, named only two days before Sunday's skills.

What's more, Ross hails from Huntsville, Alabama, and earlier this season became his state's first player to skate in the NHL.

"I was real excited to be able to be here this year," Ross said. "It's a lot of fun to be able to play with all these skilled players."

Other interesting all-star tidbits:

* Portland's Mark Mancari, who set a skills hardest shot record with a blast of 102.5 mph last year with Rochester, was not one of the six players to participate in the even this year. Something about not using the right brand of stick (no kidding).

* PlanetUSA defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti took part in the skills but was absent for the game. It seems he took a puck to the mouth last week and lost several teeth, and had dental work scheduled for Monday.

* Houston goalie Barry Brust stopped all six shots he faced in the breakaway relay portion of the skills, which is essentially six indivudual penalty shots, one right after the other. Former RPI goalie Kevin Constantine, the Aeros coach, replaces Brust with Nolan Schaefer for shootouts in the regular season.

* Yours truly was named third star of Monday morning's media game, with two goals. No, I didn't have a vote.

AHL president Dave Andrews gave his annual 'State of the League Address' Monday afternoon, touching on several subjects. Funny story about the

Monday afternoon, AHL president Dave Andrews touched on several subjects in his annual 'State of the League' address, whose origin has a funny story behind it. One year, several of us media, either individually or in groups, cornered Dave to ask about various issues. We suggested that rather than him having to ask the same questions several times, he do it in a group setting. We joked about calling it a 'state of the league' address and wouldn't you know it, the following year it appeared on the agenda as just that.

Heading the list of topics was the scheduled demolition of Philadelphia's Spectrum and the relocation of the Phantoms, the Flyers farm team. Among the options is moving to the Glens Falls Civic Center, which is operated by Comcast Spectacor, the same company that owns the Flyers and Phantoms. While it would bring AHL hockey back to the city, it would be a temporary arrangement at best until Philly finds or builds a new home. There's some debate on whether that would be in Glens Falls' best interests; I believe it would not, as much as I would love to see another team go in there (anyone but the Devils, that is. Please, God, no Devils).

Among the other issues:

* The current all-star format will remain in place for the forseeable future, rather than go to conference vs. conference setup used by other pro leagues, including the NHL

* Austin, Texas is ready and waiting to become the AHL's 30th member, but the league can't find an affiliate, though the Dallas Stars will ultimately end up there. Edmonton still has an inactive franchise, though it is affiliated with Springfield, and won't sell it. Dallas has no farm team, sending its prospects to various AHL clubs.

* The movement to cut the regular season schedule from 80 to 72 games has been tabled, because membership can't get the required 3/4 vote from the Board of Governors to make it happen. There is significant interest on the part of the NHL, and most AHL teams as well, but several meetings and conference calls have failed to produce a majority, often by one or two votes.

* Two unnamed teams are bidding for the 2010 all-star game, which may well wind up back in Wilkes-Barre, which hosted the 2001 event. Andrews didn't let on who the bidders were, but did look ahead to 2012, the league's 75th anniversary, hinting it would go to one of the league's "historic" teams. In the modern era (since the 1995 revival), Providence has had it, Hershey's had it (twice), Rochester's had it, Philadelphia's had it, even Syracuse has had it. Springfield, home of AHL headquarters, hasn't hosted one since 1959, the last of seven in the golden era, when it was held at the Eastern States Coliseum in West Springfield. Hmmm ......

* An outdoor game is still possible, perhaps in the next year or two. Rochester and Peoria have expressed an interest in having one, but nothing has gone beyond that.

* The untimely death of a 21-year-old senior amateur player in Canada from a head injury suffered in a fight has sparked another debate about the role of fighting in the game. Andrews deferred to the NHL.


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WORCESTER, MA - Albany River Rats All-Star left wing Michael Ryan shined as he scored two goals and added one assist to help the PlanetUSA AHL All-Stars to a 14-11 victory over the Canadian AHL All-Stars at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic Monday night at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Making his first career AHL All-Star appearance, Ryan had a game-high nine shots on goal and his two goals, which came consecutively in the second period, kept the PlanetUSA team within striking distance. Former River Rat defenseman Bryan Helmer scored at 4:04 of the second period to give the Canadian All-Stars a 5-2 lead, but Ryan answered back just 23 seconds later when he buried a pass from Jared Ross and Matthias Karlsson at 4:27. After the longest scoring lull of the game, 11:38 without a goal, Ryan again found the net, this time unassisted when he stole Houston goaltender Barry Brust

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