Cousins, Stolarz to Represent Phantoms at 2016 AHL All-Star Classic

Sunday, January 31, 2016
Nick Cousins and Anthony Stolarz will be representing the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic tonight and tomorrow. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
The American Hockey League (AHL) announced the playing rosters for the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic in Syracuse earlier this month. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms will be represented by forward Nick Cousins and goaltender Anthony Stolarz, who will take part in tonight's Skills Competition just one night after winning their fifth straight game to enter the break on a positive note.

"All year long there's been progress with both players," head coach Scott Gordon said of Cousins and Stolarz. "From the get-go, they've been two of our better players this year and it was just a matter of maintaining it and improving."

Trying to watch tonight's Skills Competition at 8:00 p.m. ET or tomorrow night's All-Star round-robin tournament Monday at 7:00 p.m. ET? Here's a full listing of the international broadcast schedule.

Be sure to follow along on Twitter the next two days for all the latest from the league's All-Star event, with emphasis on Cousins and Stolarz.

Cousins leads the Phantoms in scoring with 38 points (12 goals, 26 assists) in 38 games with Lehigh Valley this season. He also spent some time with the Flyers this season, going point-less in four NHL games back in late November/early December. It will be Cousins' first time as an AHL All-Star.

"It's kind of cool to represent your team," Cousins told The Home News. "To be in the All-Star game, it's a pretty big honor. I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited for it so we'll see what happens."

Stolarz has seen much improvement in his game from his rookie season last year to his sophomore pro campaign so far this season. In 29 appearances with the Phantoms this season, Stolarz is 15-10-3 with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. His 15 wins in the first half is nearly twice as many as he had all last season in his rookie year (9-13-4). It will also be Stolarz's first AHL-All Star nomination.

"It's a great feeling. It's an honor to represent the Phantoms organization as well as the Flyers," Stolarz said. "Going into the year its always one of your personal goals to make the All Star team but, for me, I'm just happy that I'm able to go this year."

UPDATED WITH PRE-SKILLS COMPETITION QUOTES:

Nick Cousins talks about getting the Skills Competition started, participating in Event One in the first race of Sher-Wood Puck Control Relay:
I think there's a little bit of pressure, but I'm looking forward to it. There's a lot of guys out here with a lot of skill so it's going to be fun and competitive.
Cousins on his strategy/technique he's planning to use in the puck control relay:
I'm just going to sort of wing it probably. It's my first time doing this so I'm going to try to just not mess up.
Anthony Stolarz on facing shooters in the rapid fire:
I don't really know what's up with the rapid fire, they're going to have to go over it with me. It's been awhile since I've watched an All-Star Game so I will have to catch up on that a little bit. It's going to be exciting to be able to take part in this, be a part of the breakaway relay and the rapid fire so I'm looking forward.
Stolarz's strategy:
I'll just try to stay on my feet as long as I can and push over and take away as much of the net as I can. 
Skills Competition Sunday at 8 p.m. ET

The 2016 AHL All-Star Classic begins tonight with the Skills Competition at 8 p.m. ET. Here's a link to a full lineup of the event, which features seven different events. Below, a look at what Phantoms All-Stars Nick Cousins and Anthony Stolarz will be participating in.
Event 1 - Sher-Wood Puck Control Relay 
Race 1  
West - Pat Cannone (CHI), Frederick Gaudreau (MIL), Brendan Ranford (TEX)
East - Will O'Neill (WBS), NICK COUSINS (LV), Seth Griffith (PRO) 
Event 3 - AHL Live Rapid Fire 
Round 6 
West - Gustav Olofsson (IA), Esa Lindell (TEX) 
East - ANTHONY STOLARZ (LV) 
Event 6 - U.S. Army Pass and Score 
Round 4 
West - Eric Comrie 
East - NICK COUSINS (LV), Alan Quine (BRI), Will O'Neill (WBS) 
Round 5 
West - Vincent LoVerde (ONT), Sean Backman (ONT), Brendan Ranford (TEX) 
East - ANTHONY STOLARZ (LV)  
Event 7 - Panasonic Breakaway Relay 
Round 5
West - Sean Backman (ONT), Brandon Montour (SD), Frederick Gaudreau (MIL), Brendan Ranford (TEX), Ryan Carpenter (SJ), Derek Grant (STK)
East - ANTHONY STOLARZ (LV) 
Round 6
West - Peter Budaj (ONT)
East - Mike Sislo (ALB), Connor Carrick (HER), Michael McCarron (STJ), Will O'Neill (WBS), NICK COUSINS (LV), William Nylander (TOR) 
AHL All-Star Game To Mirror NHL's All-Star Game

As NHL.com correspondent Patrick Williams explains, the AHL's All-Star Game will be very similar to the NHL's, except for one minor twist:
Much like the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game, each of the AHL's four divisions will ice a team with 11 skaters and two goaltenders. The teams will compete in a round-robin format; each of the six games will be nine minutes. A six-minute final game between the divisional teams with the two best records will settle the event's championship.
Where the major twist in the AHL format enters is teams will play 4-on-4 for the first half of each game. The second half will be 3-on-3.
"I think it's the first year doing this format so I don't really know what to expect, but I was reading a little bit about it online and I think it'll be entertaining for the fans with a lot of back and forth action," Cousins said of this year's format. "I definitely wouldn't want to be a goalie in this one."

Stolarz didn't seem overly worried, despite knowing that he will be facing a ton of chances from the league's most dangerous players.

"We've kind of gotten used to it. We had a couple overtime games so I've had the practice, but it'll be exciting," Stolarz said of facing 3-on-3 in the All-Star Game. "It will be fun. I'll have to pull out some two-pad stack saves and make it entertaining for the fans."

Here's a look at the roster for the Atlantic Division All-Stars:

G: Mike McMeknna, Portland Pirates
G: Anthony Stolarz, Lehigh Valley Phantoms

D: Connor Carrick, Hershey Bears
D: Cameron Gaunce, Portland Pirates
D: Ryan Graves, Hartford Wolf Pack
D: Will O’Neill, Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

F: Chris Bourque, Hershey Bears
F: Nick Cousins, Lehigh Valley Phantoms
F: Seth Griffith, Providence Bruins
F: Dustin Jeffrey, Springfield Falcons
F: Alexander Khokhlachev, Providence Bruins
F: Alan Quine, Bridgeport Sound Tigers
F Rob Schremp, Portland Pirates

For a look at the full rosters for all four divisions, the most updated roster is on the league's website with this article on Penguins defenseman Will O'Neill being added and replacing Dominik Simon.


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