The 2020-21 season kicked off for most of the AHL this past weekend. Teams across the United States of America laced up their skates, suited up, and hit the ice for the first time in almost a year. With the NHL taxi squad rosters leaving some teams with bare bones to start the season, young players had their chance to shine. During Friday’s and Saturday’s games, 18 players in the Central division tallied their first AHL point.
On Friday night, Phil Tomasino earned his first professional point when he assisted Tom Novak’s first period goal.
The play began to take form after Grand Rapids Griffins forward Evgeny Svechnikov shot just wide of the net. The puck circled around the boards until Tomasino picked it up just above the left faceoff dot. He immediately passed it off to Novak in the middle of the neutral zone. Novak proceeded to bang it off the boards for Tomasino at the blue line. Tomasino glided towards the faceoff circle and sniped the puck at Pat Nagle, who got just a piece of it with his glove. Novak picked up the rebound and chipped it into the net for the goal.
Seth Jarvis and Dominik Bokk
In Seth Jarvis’ debut on Friday, he tallied his first professional goal 2:09 into the second period. Dominik Bokk earned his first professional point assisting the goal.
This was another goal that was set into motion due to Tomasino picking the puck up off the boards.
After picking the puck off the wall, he sent it to Jeremy Davies, who was located at the point. Davies took a moment to see what was taking shape on the ice and decided it was best to send the puck back to Tomasino. From the left faceoff dot, Tomasino sent the puck to Bokk, who was sitting on the goal line. Upon reception, Bokk fired the puck in front of the crease past Joe Hicketts from Grand Rapids. Jarvis quickly skated in and slammed it home for the goal.
Jamieson Rees kicked off his career as a member of the Chicago Wolves with a two-point night in Saturday’s win against the Rockford IceHogs.
His first professional point came 17:22 into the first period when he assisted one of Jarvis’ goals.
IceHogs forward Mikael Haklarainen had a breakaway shot that Wolves goaltender Jeremy Helvig was able to stop with his chest. Rees picked up the rebound and skated down the boards until he hit the right faceoff circle. He then cut across the ice with multiple IceHogs hot on his trail.
IceHogs netminder Matt Tomkins was tracking Rees’ every move. As he passed the crease, Rees bounced the puck off of Tomkins’ skate. Seeing the puck unattended in the crease, Jarvis literally jumped to push it into the net for the goal. Not a single person paid Jarvis any attention until it was too late.
— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) February 6, 2021
Rees’ first professional goal came 8:10 into the second period on a play starting behind the net.
Joey Keane played catch with himself behind the Wolves’ net until Rees came into view on his left. Keane passed the puck off to Rees who powered down the left side boards before cutting across the ice at the blue line. As he neared the faceoff circle, he quickly cut left and sped towards Tomkins. From the middle of the crease, Rees sniped the puck into the net.
Chicago Wolves netminder Jeremy Helvig earned his first AHL win over the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday. Stopping 28 of the 32 shots he faced, Helvig looked confident in the crease and knew how to track his opponents.
Chad Yetman and Evan Barratt
Chad Yetman and Evan Barratt had a bit of help from Cody Franson in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Wolves to earn their first professional points.
Franson and John Quennville played a little cross ice catch before Franson found Barratt in the slot. Barratt fired off a shot which Helvig initially stopped. However, the puck trickled through Helvig’s pads and sat all by it’s lonesome in the crease. Yetman was waiting on the doorstep to pick up a rebound but instead was gifted with an easy poke of the puck into the net.
Wyatt Kalynuk and Andrei Altybarmakyan
Another multi-point game for a player chock full of firsts. Wyatt Kalynuk notched his first professional point and goal in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Chicago Wolves. Andrei Altybarmakyan earned his first AHL point by assisting Kalynuk’s first professional goal.
Remember how I said Franson was an integral part of Yetman and Barratt’s first points? Well, he also had a hand in Kalynuk’s and Altybarmakyan’s first professional points.
Kalynuk’s first pro point came 4:31 into the first period when he assisted Quenneville’s power play goal.
The play started when Matt Tomkins picked up a puck recently cleared by the Wolves from behind the net. Tomkins stood by the puck until Kalynuk skated behind the net to kick the play into high gear. Once he hit the bottom of the right faceoff circle, Kalynuk passed the puck off to Quenneville who laid in wait at the top of the left faceoff circle in the defensive zone. The moment Quenneville hit the neutral zone, he flung the puck across the ice to Franson. A few steps later, Franson fired the puck back to Quenneville who flew down the ice virtually undetected before scoring on Helvig.
A little over four and a half minutes into the second period, Altybarmakyan was smashed up against the boards by a Wolves defender while carrying the puck. Luckily, Altybarmakyan saw him coming and quickly released the puck to Franson who was located at the point. Franson watched Kalynuk skate backwards into the faceoff circle. The moment he hit the faceoff dot, Franson fired the puck towards the faceoff circle. Kalynuk wound up and one timed a shot off the post and behind Helvig.
Matej Chalupa and DJ Busdeker
Matej Chalupa was all over the ice on Saturday trying to drum up solid plays which would turn into goals. Despite his high intensity and incredible effort, it took until 9:27 into the third period for Chalupa’s goal to come to fruition. This goal would become his first AHL goal and DJ Busdeker’s first AHL point.
Dylan Mclaughlin kept the play in motion with an epic battle along the board. Once he won the battle, McLaughlin quickly got the puck to Busdeker who skated towards the back of the Wolves’ net. As he was entering the area behind the net, Busdeker sauced the puck over to Chalupa who was in the slot. McLaughlin provided a perfect screen for Chalupa to catch Helvig off guard and sneak the puck through his five-hole.
Note the slight bit of patience from Matej Chalupa before he shot the puck into the net.
— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) February 6, 2021
Adam Beckman and Damien Giroux
On Friday night, Adam Beckman and Damien Giroux tallied their first professional points on the same play 12:15 into the third period. It all started with proper fundamentals.
Giroux came up big with a well-executed forecheck on Dawson Barteaux along the boards.This allowed Giroux to get the puck free long enough for Calen Addison to scoop it up and feed Beckman from the middle of the blue line. Upon receiving the puck, Beckman played keep away from Barteaux for a few moments. Then he sniped the puck through Colton Point’s five-hole.
Josh Maser wasn’t even supposed to play in Saturday’s game against the Texas Stars. He was a last minute addition to the lineup, replacing veteran Joseph Cramarossa.
All night, Maser found himself helping create plays from the goal line and below. This approach proved fruitful for Maser, as his first goal was scored while redirecting a shot into the net from the goal line.
Josh Maser was a last minute addition to the Wild 's roster tonight replacing Joseph Cramarossa.
His redirect from near the goal line put the Wild up 2-1 over the Stars.
— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) February 7, 2021
In Saturday night’s win over the Stars, Tyler Sheehy tallied his first AHL point when he assisted Gabriel Dumont’s goal 53 seconds into the third period.
Stars defender Thomas Harley was trying to move the puck up ice with Nikita Scherbak and Cole Schneider. As they began to make the play they had written up take shape, Sheehy casually skated into the three players and plucked the puck off of Harley’s stick. He quickly chipped the puck to Dumont who was in the slot. Dumont went forehand backhand before sliding it under the Point’s right pad.
— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) February 7, 2021
Riley Damiani earned his first multi-point game (three) on Friday night in the Texas Stars’ 8-4 win over the Iowa Wild. Within his three-point night lay two other firsts to add to the stat sheet: first point and first goal.
Damiani’s first professional point came in the form of a primary assist on Nick Baptiste’s first period goal.
This play was set into motion the moment the Stars won an offensive zone draw to the right of the Wild’s netminder, Hunter Jones. Once the official dropped the puck, Damiani smoothly knocked it backwards towards Ben Gleason. After skating between the tops of both circles and then up to the blue line, Gleason fired the puck into the corner of the boards. Adam Mascherin picked the puck up from behind the net and skated along the wall before quickly passing to Damiani, who was posted at the top of the near faceoff circle. Damiani loaded his stick like a weapon, pulled the trigger, and fired a shot towards Jones. Baptiste tipped the puck into the net for the goal.
It's been five days and I still can't get over how smooth of a faceoff win this was.
Riley Damiani (@TexasStars ) knew exactly where Ben Gleason was located and launched the puck his way with immense confidence.
This win set into motion Nick Baptiste's goal. pic.twitter.com/7BccAGpXeQ
— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) February 10, 2021
Three minutes into the second period, Damiani tallied his first professional goal. Just like earlier, an offensive zone faceoff win to the right of Hunter Jones set the play in motion.
Riley Tufte got tangled up with Connor Dewar on the draw, but was able to come out victorious by kicking the puck to Tye Felhaber. After skating through the top of the faceoff circle, Felhaber hurled the puck to Gleason located at the point. Gleason genuflected while tossing the puck to Josh Melnick, who took a few quick skates forward before passing the puck to Damiani. From the left faceoff circle, Damiani swept the puck upwards into the net for his first professional goal.
Ryan Shea and Thomas Harley
Ryan Shea and Thomas Harley earned their first professional points when they assisted Anthony Louis’ goal 17:44 into the third period during Friday night’s win against the Wild.
Crisp, clean passing from all three players led to a beautiful shot from the high slot by Louis.