Rivermen Well Represented at All-Star Classic
January 31, 2011
With three players and their head coach taking place in tonight’s AHL All-Star Classic in Hershey, Pa., the Peoria Rivermen are one of the most well represented teams. Only the host-Hershey Bears and league-best Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins match the Rivermen with three players in the game.
Rivermen head coach Jared Bednar is sharing the coaching duties of the Western Conference squad with John Hynes of the Penguins while the entire Hershey coaching staff will lead the Eastern Conference team.
This is the first time in Peoria’s 28 seasons that the Rivermen have been represented by four people (staff included) at a midseason all-star game in the AHL, ECHL, or IHL. The 2010-11 season marks the first time in the AHL era that the Rivermen have more than two players and the first time since 2001 overall that they have had more than two representatives. At the 2001 ECHL All-Star Game at ALLTEL Arena in Little Rock, Ark., the Rivermen sent forward Darren Clark, goaltender Kenric Exner and their head coach Jason Christie.
Bednar, 38, became Peoria’s head coach over the summer after spending last season as an assistant coach with the Abbotsford Heat. He will serve as the co-coach of the Western Conference and earned the honor because the Rivermen owned the best record in their respective conference as of the pre-determined deadline, the end of play on Jan. 9. Bednar’s Rivermen currently have a record of 28-17-2-1 (.615).
Allen, 20, playing his first season of professional hockey, will get the start tonight for the Western Conference by virtue of a fan vote. He has burst onto the professional scene to the tune of 16 wins in his first 24 games for Peoria (16-8-0) this season. Allen earned four shutouts in eight appearances to begin the year and is tied for first in the league with five shutouts overall. The Fredericton, N.B., native also ranks third in the AHL in save percentage (.934). Allen was originally drafted by the Blues in the second round, 34th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Hensick, 25, has made five appearances for the Blues this season recording an assist and serving two penalty minutes. In 26 outings with Peoria, the forward leads the Rivermen with 41 points including 11 goals and a club best 30 assists. The Lansing, Michigan native was originally drafted by Colorado in the third round, 88th overall, of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He was acquired by St. Louis from Colorado in exchange for Julian Talbot on June 17, 2010.
For Hensick it is his third AHL all-star game in four professional seasons and he has six points (3g, 3a) in his first two games. He led all scorers with two goals and two assists as a rookie in 2008 but failed to earn the MVP as his PlanetUSA team fell 9-8 in a shootout.
Oystrick, 28, is on pace to set a career-high in points this season with 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) in just 36 games with the Rivermen. He’s tied for first among AHL blueliners in power-play goals (6) and is tied for second in the league in goals scored by a defenseman. The Regina, SK native was originally drafted by Atlanta in the seventh round, 198th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft and was signed by St. Louis as a free agent on July 12, 2010.
This is Oystrick’s second career AHL all-star game after registering one assist for the Canadian All-Stars in his rookie season, 2007.
2011 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross in Hershey will
feature the top young talent in the AHL. Of the 528 players to take part
in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 93 percent have competed in
the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Dan Boyle, Daniel
Briere, Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Campbell, Zdeno Chara, Eric Fehr, Miikka
Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Zach Parise, Bobby Ryan, Martin St.
Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Tomas Vokoun.