|Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
The PPL Center in downtown Allentown, Pennsylvania - home to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms - is hosting the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic at the end of this month and will have a few familiar faces for Phantoms fans to watch during the annual Skills Competition on January 29th and the 2017 All-Star Challenge on January 30th.
The American Hockey League (AHL) announced its playing rosters for the event Thursday afternoon, and the Phantoms will have three representatives this season - defenseman T.J. Brennan and forwards Jordan Weal and Taylor Leier.
In the previous two years, the host team has sent three players to the league's All-Star event, with Syracuse sending three in the 2016 All-Star Classic (captain Mike Angelidis, defenseman Matt Taormina and goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis) and Utica having three All-Stars in 2015 (goaltender Jacob Markstrom, defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti and forward Cal O'Reilly).
The Phantoms are traveling to Hartford today, so the three All-Stars were not available to Highland Park Hockey for immediate comment. If phone interviews aren't arranged, we'll have video interviews with each of the All-Stars on our YouTube channel Friday in Hartford.
For Jordan Weal, it will be his 2nd appearance at the AHL All-Star Classic after being named an All-Star in 2015 for the event in Utica, NY. On the season, Weal has tallied 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) in 29 games with the Phantoms this season - tied for 5th overall in the league for scoring and third most in the AHL's Eastern Conference.
T.J. Brennan is no stranger to AHL All-Star events, making 2017 his fourth straight year as an All-Star defenseman. On the season, Brennan's 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) rank him tied for fourth in the AHL among defensemen in scoring. His 10 goals are tops by any blue liner in the league.
Recently reassigned, Taylor Leier was also added to the Atlantic Division's All-Star squad. Leier has tallied 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 22 games with Lehigh Valley this season.
All-Star Coaches Set
Clark Donatelli of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Benoit Groulx of the Syracuse Crunch, Todd Nelson of the Grand Rapids Griffins and Mike Stothers of the Ontario Reign have clinched the honor of coaching at the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic to be held January 29-30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
East/West Skills Competition & All-Star Challenge Return in 2017 All-Star Classic
The 2017 AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 29 will pit the All-Stars from the two Eastern Conference divisions against those from the two Western Conference divisions in seven skills events.
The AHL’s All-Stars will be divided into four teams, one representing each of the league’s four divisions, for the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge on Jan. 30. The teams will participate in a round-robin tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each, played entirely at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played at 3-on-3.
Atlantic Division All-Star Roster
In addition to defenseman T.J. Brennan and forwards Taylor Leier and Jordan Weal, here's a list of who the Phantoms' All-Stars will be participating in the All-Star Challenge with on January 30th:
Goaltenders: Zane McIntyre (Providence) and Tristan Jarry (W-B/Scranton)
Defensemen: Devin Toews (Bridgeport) and Mackenzie Weegar (Springfield)
Forwards: Chris Bourque (captain - Hershey), Travis Boyd (Hershey), Jake Guentzel (W-B/Scranton), Danton Heinen (Providence) and Nicklas Jensen (Hartford)