Well, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve made it.
The 2018 AHL All-Star Classic is upon us. Paralleling with the NHL All-Star Game in Tampa Bay, the AHL All-Star Classic will feature several of the American Hockey League’s best players all in one place.
With that said, many of you want to know where the Roadrunners come in to play in this weekend. Well, if that applies to you, read below for your personal guide to All-Star Classic.
What is the AHL All-Star Classic?
Officially named the 2018 American Hockey League All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino, the event is actually weekend of events. It will feature a Skills Competition on Sunday, as well as the All-Star Challenge on Monday. Both will be played at the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, N.Y.
The Skills Competition will feature a slew of events for players to showcase some unique talents. Some of the more well known skills competitions include hardest shot, fastest skater, and accuracy shooting.
The All-Star Challenge is the main event, where teams consisted of players from each of the league’s divisions (Atlantic, North, Central and Pacific) play in a round-robin style tournament. The tournament will feature six 10-minute, 3-on-3 games — by comparison regular season games are 5-on-5, with 20 minute periods — followed by a six-minute 3-on-3 championship game between the top two divisions.
Who will be representing Tucson?
Five Roadrunners will represent the Pacific Division in Utica. This includes three current players, one coach, and a former player:
Dylan Strome (F): When you think of the Tucson Roadrunners, Dylan Strome will probably be one of the first guys you think of. Strome leads the AHL among rookies in points scored this season registering 40 points in 30 games played.
Nick Merkley (F): Nick Merkley has proven himself to be another key player to the Roadrunners organization. Standing just right next to Strome, Merkley leads the Roadrunners in total goals scored (20), and is second in the AHL in power play goals (11).
Kyle Capobianco (D): Capobianco was a late addition to the Pacific Division roster. After San Antonio Rampage’s Jordan Schmaltz became unavailable for the weekend, the AHL announced this Wednesday that the Roadrunners’ defenseman would act as the replacement.
Mike Van Ryn (HC): When the Roadrunners secured the top spot in the Pacific Division at the turn of the new year, that prompted head coach Mike Van Ryn to officially be named as the head coach representative for the Pacific.
Craig Cunningham (Honorary Captain): The Roadrunners former captain, Craig Cunningham will also be in attendance in Utica, acting as an honorary captain for the All-Star challenge. Cunningham caught the hearts of the hockey world, when he was forced to retire at 26 years old after he collapsed on the ice prior to a game last season. Cunningham was also honored by his former team earlier this season, when the Roadrunners retired his jersey number.
According to Capobianco, they were set to leave immediately after their game against Chicago to catch a 2am Sunday morning flight in Phoenix, and flying to an unspecified connection before reaching their final stop in Utica.
How can I watch the AHL All-Star Classic?
Skills Competition: Sunday, January 28 @ 6 p.m. MST
AHL All-Star Challenge: Monday, January 29 @ 5 p.m. MST
TV Channel: NHL Network (USA), SportsNet (Canada)
Live Stream: AHL Live
Announcers: Brendan Burke (Play-by-Play), Alan May (Color), Dan Weiss (Rink-side)
If you are unable to watch on any of the above networks, the Tucson Roadrunners will hosting their own All-Star Challenge viewing party at the Sentinel Peak Brewing Company on Monday.
Follow Rob Leano on Twitter @RobLeano1