Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Providence:Great Host City

AHL All-Star Game Back in Providence
January 25, 2013
Thomas Chace Jr.

The AHL All-Star Classic, as it’s been called since 1995, is back in Rhode Island’s Capitol city of Providence.  The AHL-All Stars have been here before of course, in fact this is the third time the city has hosted an All-Star game of some sort.

Way back on October 23, 1956, the Providence Reds defeated the AHL All-Stars by a score of 4-0.  This was the 4th AHL All-Star game to ever be played, and the contest took place at the Rhode Island Auditorium.  The 1955 Calder Cup champion, Providence Reds hosted the event.  The Reds won the F.G. “Teddy” Oke Trophy for the Regular Season Champions, but the Calder Cup went to the Cleveland Barons in 1956-57.

The Les Cunningham Award, given to the MVP of the AHL was awarded to Providence goaltender Johnny Bower that season.  Bower also won the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award for the lowest goals against average in the 1956-57 season.

The Rochester Americans defeated the Reds, 4 games to 1, but were beaten by the Cleveland Barons in the Calder Cup Finals in 5 games.  Providence’s leading scorer that year was Paul Larivee, who had 46 goals and 43 assists, for 89 points in 64 games played. 

In order to host the All-Star Game in 1956, the Providence Reds had to win the Calder Cup.  In the 1955-56 season they did just that.  In fact, the Reds won their fourth Calder Cup in the 20 year history of the American Hockey League that season.  Winning 45 of 64 games the Reds finished just 2 points ahead of defending Cup Champion, the Pittsburgh Hornets. 

Folk hero Zellio Toppazzini had 113 points that season, comprising of 42 goals and 71 helpers.  Camille Henry had 50 goals for the Reds as well.  Providence defeated the Buffalo Bisons 3 games to 2, to advance to the Calder Cup Finals where they dispatched the Cleveland Barons 4 games to none.  Johnny Bower was the MVP in 1955-56 as well.  Rookie of the year, Bruce Cline, of Providence was given the Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Award.

After a long hiatus with no AHL All-Star Games since 1959, The All-Star Classic was born in 1995 and took place at the Providence Civic Center (now known as the Dunkin’ Donuts Center).  Officially known as the 1995 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic, the game featured Canadians against United States players.  Canada skated away with a 6-4 victory.  11,909 fans attended and witnessed one penalty, for too many men on the ice, and 10 goals scored.  Ralph Intranuovo was the 1st Star for his goal and assist in the game. The US outshot Canada 43-32 and had both of the other stars of the game, Steve Sullivan and Martin Lapointe.

So the game is returning to Providence and features three hometown Providence Bruins.  Captain Trent Whitfield, rookie goaltending sensation Niklas Svedberg, and Jamie Tardif who replaces Chris Bourque.  Bourque was the leading scorer but was recalled by their parent club, the Boston Bruins. Tardif leads the team with 18 goals.

Also, featured will be at least eight rookies, because the roster has been changing daily, the numbers could change.  One interesting addition yesterday was Syracuse defenseman, Radko Gudas.  Gudas has 10 fighting majors and 120 penalty minutes, not exactly numbers you will find on many All-Star squads. I applaud it and look forward to seeing how he goes about his business with the rest of the AHL’s best.









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