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LIVE FROM HERSHEY: The AHL Skills Competition Live Blog

View from Press Box at AHL All-Star Classic

1:52 pm: We are live from the auxiliary pressbox in section 217 at the Giant Center in Hershey! 10 minutes until the Skills Competition starts. Mark Dekanich will be participating in the RBC Rapid Fire Event, the Reese’s Pass and Score and the Panasonic Breakaway Relay. Linus Klasen will be participating in the Reese’s Accuracy Shooting, the Reese’s Pass and Score and the Panasonic Breakaway Relay.

2:03 pm: The AHL All Stars have taken the ice for player introductions. Alexandre Giroux – returning to Hershey – gets a thunderous ovation. The Bears, obviously, are also greeted to a huge round of applause, as is the Eastern Conference’s honorary captain, Olaf Kolzig.

2:16 pm: Anthems are done. Cones are on the ice. Sher-Wood Puck Control Relay coming up.

2:19 pm: Puck control relay is a head-to-head battle. Players from each team skate down to the opposite goal line, pick up a puck, zig zag through a series of cones and then their teammate goes when they get back. First team back wins. The first heat consists of teams of two junior players, the second heat consists of three junior players and the third is a head-to-head.

2:24 pm: At the conclusion of the Puck Control Relay, the Eastern Conference leads 2-1. Erik Gustafsson of the Adirondack Phantoms barely edged Ilari Filppula from the Grand Rapids Griffins back to the line for the go ahead “goal”. Coming up – Reebok Fastest Skater.

2:32 pm: Lost internet for a minute there.

2:33 pm: In the midst of the fastest skater. Players – unlike the NHL – skate one at a time. First, the junior players go against each other. Then the AHL Players. The fastest junior player’s team gets a goal. The fastest AHL player gets a goal for his team and the fastest average time gets a goal.

2:37 pm: The Eastern Conference takes a 4-2 lead. The fastest player among the junior players was Jordan Klimovsky with a 15.323, representing the Western Conference. The Eastern Conference had the fastest average time among the AHL All Stars, on the strength of Manchester Monarch Viatcheslav Voltov’s 14.197 time. All three Eastern Conference skaters were faster than the Western Conference skaters.

2:41 pm: Mark Dekanich’s first event – the RBC Rapid Fire – is up next. The goalies face 10 shots from two different players and the goalie with the fewer goals allowed wins.

2:43 pm: Dex goes first for the West and lets in 5 of 10. He looked extremely solid until the end when the Eastern Conference shooters – Johan Harju from Norfolk and Eric Tangradi from Wilkes-Barre – appeared to catch him off rhythm. Reebok Hardest Shot Competition is up next. Eastern Conference leads 5-2.

2:51 pm: The hardest overall shooter gets a goal here, as does the highest team average. Doubt anyone can beat 104.8.

3:00 pm: The AHL’s hardest shooter is the Hershey Bears’ Brian Fahey, who registered a 96.9 MPH (after missing the first two shots). The Eastern Conference dominated this event, with all shooters shooting above 94 MPH, while the Western Conference only had one player – the Toronto Marlies’ Keith Aulie – break 93 MPH. The Eastern Conference leads 7-2.

3:02 pm: Coming up next, the Reese’s Accuracy Competition – this is Linus Klasen’s first event. There will be another round featuring junior players. The most accurate junior earns a point for his team. The AHL players earn a point for the most hits combined among the four shooters and another point for the most accurate individual shooter.

3:15 pm: The junior player for the Eastern Conference earned the first point. Klasen went first for the West and hit…1. Going to go out on a limb and say that won’t do it. 8-2 Eastern Conference midway through the accuracy competition.

3:17 pm: The next shooter, Jeremy Williams from the Connecticut Whale hits all four targets. Klasen definitely out of it now.

3:18 pm: The Eastern Conference destroyed the Western Conference in the Accuracy Competition, with the second two shooters only missing 1 target a piece. With two events left – the Eastern Conference leads 10-2. Dekanich and Klasen are both participating in the next event, the Reese’s Pass and Score.

3:25 pm: The Pass and Score Competition is fairly simple to explain. Each team has 30 seconds to score as many goals as possible. All 3 players must touch the puck and they start from the blue line. The goals count in the overall total. Dex goes first for the West.

3:27 pm: Dex is beaten twice in three attempts. Once on the high stick side and once glove side. The East leads 12-2. Klasen’s team goes shortly.

3:31 pm: Klasen’s team buries two of their three attempts. Klasen himself scores the final goal on Wilkes Barre-Scranton’s John Curry and makes him look absolutely silly. At the conclusion of this portion of the Skills Competition, Klasen’s team was the only team to put a puck in the net. The East now leads 14-4. The final event, the Panasonic Breakaway Relay, coming up shortly. Dex and Klasen are in this one as well.

3:34 pm: The Breakaway Relay is fairly straightforward. Each player gets an attempt on goal. Each goal counts towards the final total. Each goalie faces 6 shooters. All 6 shots must be completed in 50 seconds. Rebounds are allowed if the player continues forward motion. Dex faces the Eastern shooters first for the West. Klasen is in the second group.

3:38 pm: None of the Western shooters in the first group score. Still 14-4. Here goes Dex.

3:40 pm: Dex is only beaten by one shooter – Johan Harju, the same shooter who gave him trouble earlier – and makes an absolutely brilliant save on Kyle Palmieri, laying down on the ice. East leads 15-4.

3:42 pm: Ladies and gentlemen, Linus Klasen just won the Skills Competition. Skating in on Manchester’s Martin Jones, Klasen skated around the faceoff circle, did a 360 and buried the puck. The crowd rewarded him with a standing ovation.

3:45 pm: At the conclusion of the AHL Skills Competition, the Eastern Conference wins by 12 – 19-7.

3:54 pm: Attendance was 10,588.

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