Top Shelf with Tony Uminski 2/1
A.J. Greer has been in high gear since training camp for the Rampage and his vim and vigor resulted in his selection to the AHL All-Star Classic Monday in Allentown, Pa., home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Greer kept the mojo moving in the right direction, holding on to the CCM Hardest Shot of the competition until the next to last shooter, with a bullet at 99.2 on the radar gun. Unfortunately, Tucson defenseman Kyle Wood just nicked Greer’s bomb with a 99.3 reading.
In the Pass and Score competition, Greer scored his team’s lone goal, a nice pass-to-himself off the boards around the defenseman and a finish to beat Linus Ullmark of the Rochester Americans. Charlie Lindgrin of the St. John’s IceCaps stopped Greer on his breakaway shot in the Breakaway Relay. Overall, the Western Conference prevailed over the Eastern Conference in the Skills Competition, 15-11.
In the featured contest, the Pacific Division had trouble finding the back of the net, but Greer did score at 2:41 of the first game against the North Division and added an assist on his division’s final goal of that game in the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge, won by the Central Division Monday night.
It was a busy weekend for Greer, who scored a pretty spiffy, spinning goal on the doorstep in Saturday’s 4-3 setback to Ontario, traveled to Allentown in time for the skills competition Sunday night and then witness all the special events on Monday leading up to the Challenge, including the induction ceremonies for the AHL Hall of Fame.
Before the game Saturday night, Greer said, “It’s an honor, for sure. This wasn’t done alone. I’ve got a lot of help from my teammates and support on and off the ice. It’s an opportunity to showcase my abilities, kind of put my name out there and just have some fun.”
Greer is second on the team in scoring with 32 points, behind Rocco Grimaldi’s 35, while his 14 points on the power play is the most on the squad.
Greer is looking forward to the rest of the season with the Rampage after the club registered a season-high four-game winning streak and just ran out of time against the Reign on Saturday night. “I’m proud of the guys in how well they reacted in some of the situations. We played really well in the last four or five games, even today (Saturday night). We showed resilience in the end and competitiveness, everything that makes this group a good group. I’m not worried about what’s to come (road trip), we just have to play hockey and have some fun.”
You may recall the final seconds of that contest Saturday. The Rampage scored with 24 seconds left to close to within 4-3, and after the ensuing faceoff at center ice, the Rampage won the faceoff, and rushed the Ontario net, only to be denied by Reign goaltender, Jack Campbell. How did the puck not go in? “Honestly, I have no clue,” said Greer. “I’ve never been robbed so bad. I don’t know how he stopped that. Kudos to him, but I have to bear down on that. It happens, but I definitely score that a second time around.”
In Case You Missed It
Former Rampage captain, Bryan Helmer was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame Monday…Helmer spent two seasons here at the tail end of an illustrious career, which saw him set the records for most AHL games by a defenseman plus the most assists and points for a blueliner in 1,117 contests. His 159 AHL playoff mark is the most of any player in league history…always promoting the team and sport, Helmer could be seen after games, win or lose, giving locker room tours to kids and adults alike while with the Rampage in 2006-08. Helmer also played in 146 NHL games with 8-18-26 scoring, including a 12-game call up to the Washington Capitals the year after he left the Rampage…Former Rampage rookie defenseman Mackenzie Weegar scored the first goal of the All Star Challenge representing the Springfield Thunderbirds and the Atlantic Division, and added three assists. The Atlantic Division dropped a 1-0 decision to the Central Division in the title game…former Rampage winger Mark Mancari is fourth on the all-time hardest shot list…The Albany Devils will be moving their AHL affiliate from New York to Binghampton, which currently has the Ottawa Senators AHL club, which is moving to Belleville, Ontario…Rocco Grimaldi has seven goals in his last seven games…he added an assist vs. Rockford to give him his first three-point game of the season.
On Feb. 1, 2013, the Rampage nipped Rockford, 1-0 in the final home game before the rodeo road trip. Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped all 30 IceHogs shots, including 17 in the final 20 minutes, when Rockford outshot San Antonio, 17-5. John Mcfarland scored the game’s lone tally at 10:09 of the third period, with Jared Gomes and Eric Selleck getting assists. Gomes, who was third in scoring that season, is playing in Germany this season, while Selleck is in Tucson this year, and Mcfarland is playing in Sweden. Markstrom is 9-9-3 this season with a 2.56 GAA and he and Ryan Miller are pretty much sharing the load, with the former Buffalo Sabres great having just seven more contests than Marky… That contest was played in front of 16,205 on Pink in the Rink Night…which is coming up Friday!Get your tickets now as the game should have the largest crowd of the season in the house.Faceoff is 7:30 against the Texas Stars.