News | 2/11/2014 | Rob Crean
The 2014 AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Tuesday night in St. John’s, Newfoundland, was a first-of-its kind event as the team of American Hockey League All-Stars took on Farjestad BK out of the Swedish Hockey League in a precursor to Wednesday’s All-Star Game.
The new format for the competition led to a dramatic finish, as the AHL team scored on the final shot of the final event, the Breakaway Relay, to tie the score and force a tie-breaker shootout. The tying goal was scored by St. John’s IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray, who then added to the excitement of the hometown fans by netting the winning goal in the shootout.
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The night got started with a rousing standing ovation and chants of “LUUUUKE” as Rochester Americans forward Luke Adam, a native of St. John’s, was introduced to the hometown crowd.
“It was great, I wasn’t expecting a standing ovation,” Adam said. “It just shows how much Newfoundlanders care about a local product and I couldn’t be more thrilled and honored to have that happen.”
Both Adam and Amerks defenseman Brayden McNabb represented the AHL team in the CCM Hardest Shot event, where McNabb was looking to defend the title he won at last year’s All-Star Skills Competition in Providence. McNabb did top his winning speed from last season, but a record-setting shot by Farjestad BK’s Magnus Nygren kept McNabb from repeating in the event.
Former Amerk and current Toronto Marlies defenseman T.J. Brennan got it started with a 101.5 MPH shot, but McNabb soon bested his former power-play partner with a 102.6 MPH blast. That shot was just two-tenths off the previous record shot held by another former Amerk in Mark Mancari, who set it back in 2008. Nygren, however, would set the new event record by blasting a slap-shot that was clocked at 104.6 MPH to effectively end the competition.
Adam made his debut in the Hardest Shot contest with a high mark of 93.7 MPH. Rochester’s leading goal-scorer, who entered the break with 20 goals in just 32 games, stayed on the ice for the next event, the Pepsi Accuracy Shooting challenge. Adam needed eight attempts to hit the four targets, which was two off the winning mark of 4-for-6 that was shared by three players: Bridgeport’s Ryan Strome, Jaffray and Nygren.
Overall, it was an exciting event for both players and fans.
“It was a blast, I had a ton of fun and I’m really excited for the game tomorrow night,” said Adam, who had several family members and friends in the crowd.
The 2014 AHL All-Star Classic continues Wednesday night at Mile One Centre when the AHL and Farjestad BK face-off in an exhibition game.