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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, set for this coming Sunday and Monday, will bring some of the best young players in hockey to Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto to continue a tradition that actually began 65 years ago.

While 2007 marks the 13th installment of the league’s modern All-Star event, the first AHL All-Star Game was held on Feb. 3, 1942, under the support of league president Maurice Podoloff. The game, played at the famed Arena in Cleveland, was a fundraiser for U.S. and Canadian efforts in World War II and featured some of the most notable names in league history, including Les Cunningham and Eddie Shore, two men whose names now grace AHL awards honoring the league’s MVP and outstanding defenseman, respectively.

The AHL All-Star Game was brought back in 1954, and for the next six years the contest pitted the defending Calder Cup champions against a team of league all-stars. Many of the AHL’s great players of the era participated, including AHL Hall of Famer Fred Glover, who played in all six of these games. Other AHL All-Stars in the 1950’s included future Hockey Hall of Famers Frank Mathers, Emile Francis, Brian Kilrea, Harry Lumley, Pierre Pilote, Gump Worsley and Johnny Bower, who made 47 saves in a 4-0 shutout win in the October 1956 game.

Following the All-Star Game in December 1959, the event was not held again until current league president and CEO David Andrews revived it 35 years later. In Providence on Jan. 17, 1995, a team of All-Stars from the AHL’s six Canadian teams faced off against All-Stars from the league’s 11 U.S.-based clubs.

The annual Skills Competition was added in 1996, and the format was changed in 1997 to the current set-up pitting Canadian-born players against those born outside Canada.

Fans in Toronto – regarded as the hockey capital of the world – and a live international TV audience is set to once again witness the AHL’s best face off on one of hockey’s brightest stages, the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic. The AHL All-Star TV network will reach over 100 million households; click here for a schedule of air times.

ALL-STAR RADIO COVERAGE … In addition to the extensive TV and video webcast coverage of the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, Monday’s AHL All-Star Game can be heard anywhere in the world on the official Web site of the AHL,

Toronto Marlies play-by-play voice John Bartlett will provide the call of the All-Star Game on a worldwide audio cybercast courtesy of the Marlies’ flagship radio home, AM640 Toronto.

The 2007 AHL All-Star Game will also be carried live on XM Satellite Radio and XM Canada, with more than six million subscribers, on Home Ice XM 204, the network’s all-hockey channel.

CHERRY TO SPEAK AT ALL-STAR LUNCHEON … Former American Hockey League All-Star defenseman and long-time Canadian broadcasting legend Don Cherry will serve as the guest speaker at the 2007 Hockey Hall of Fame AHL All-Star Classic Luncheon, Jan. 29 in Toronto.

The Luncheon, which is annually attended by 1,000 guests, will also feature the induction of four new members into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame. The Class of 2007 includes Fred “Bun” Cook, Dick Gamble, Gil Mayer and Mike Nykoluk.

ALL-STAR OFFICIALS NAMED … The AHL has named the on-ice officials for the 2007 AHL All-Star Game in Toronto. Steve Kozari will serve as the game’s referee, while John Campbell and Scott Cherrey will be the linesmen.

It will be the first AHL All-Star appearance for all three.

500 FOR SLANEY ... Philadelphia Phantoms captain John Slaney, who has more career points in AHL All-Star Game play than anyone in league history, on Sunday became the first defenseman – and the 72nd player overall – ever to record 500 points in an AHL career.

With his second-period assist against Norfolk, Slaney now has 160 goals and 340 assists in 597 career AHL contests.

ETC. ... Omaha’s All-Star goaltender Curtis McElhinney is 0-6-0 this season against Chicago and Peoria, and 18-2-0 against the rest of the American Hockey League.

Norfolk All-Stars Brandon Bochenski (4g, 5a), Troy Brouwer (3g, 4a) and Martin St. Pierre (2g, 6a) combined for 24 points in five games last week.

All-Star Wade Dubielewicz set a Bridgeport team record with 51 saves in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win at Hershey.

Toronto rookie Robbie Earl, a native Chicagoan and a University of Wisconsin product, scored at Milwaukee on Saturday night before potting the decisive shootout goal in Chicago on Sunday.

Mark Hartigan’s hat trick against Albany on Friday gave him 106 career goals with Syracuse and made him the Crunch’s all-time leading goal scorer, surpassing Lonny Bohonos (104).

After going 29 games without a goal, Lowell rookie Stephen Gionta scored in back-to-back games for the Devils over the weekend.

Yan Stastny scored two goals and was a plus-4 in Peoria’s 5-4 win at Iowa on Saturday.

Springfield is 6-1 this season in games decided after regulation (1-0 in overtime, 5-1 in shootouts).

Chicago snapped a seven-game home winless streak with a 7-2 victory over San Antonio on Saturday night, with 14,927 fans in attendance at Allstate Arena.

Average attendance at 32 weekend games in the AHL was 6,431.

With the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo taking over the AT&T Center, the Rampage kick off a 16-game, 28-day road odyssey covering nearly 7,500 miles on Thursday night with a game against the Marlies at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
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