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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Grand Rapids Griffins continued their roster tweaking on Wednesday by adding a pair of high picks from past NHL Entry Drafts. The team signed right wing Scott Barney to a standard player's contract and defenseman Jason Beckett to a professional tryout.

Barney, 27, averaged nearly a point per game for the AHL's Chicago Wolves last season, ranking among the club's leaders with 32 goals (2nd), 51 points (T3rd), 15 power play goals (2nd) and five game-winning goals (T1st) in just 53 games. Selected 29th overall by Los Angeles in the 1997 draft, he has registered 11 points (5-6-11) in 27 NHL contests during his three professional seasons. Barney, who appeared in three games with the Atlanta Thrashers last year, has totaled 103 points (65-38-103) in 159 career AHL games.

Beckett, 26, played 234 AHL games during his first five pro seasons (2000-05) before taking last year off to study at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn. Philadelphia's second choice in the 1998 draft, he has totaled 41 points (10-31-41) and 478 penalty minutes during stints with the Philadelphia Phantoms, Milwaukee, Houston and Syracuse.

With a roster now consisting of 23 players, Grand Rapids will open the 2006-07 regular season with three straight road games, beginning this Friday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. versus the San Antonio Rampage. The Griffins will then host the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights for their home opener next Saturday, Oct. 14. Game time at Van Andel Arena is 7 p.m.

Tickets for all 40 Griffins regular season home games can be purchased in person at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets Plus locations (including Meijer stores), by phone through Star Tickets Plus at 800-585-3737, or via the web at griffinshockey.com. Full season tickets, five-, 10- and 20-game value plans, and group ticket packages are available through the Griffins office at (800) 2-HOCKEY.
 

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Marlies focus on continuity

The Toronto Marlies have a new coach, a new hotshot goaltending prospect and a slew of new players. Despite the changes, Greg Gilbert is focusing on continuity.

"What's important is that what's being taught to the Maple Leafs players is being taught to the Marlies players," said Gilbert, who replaced Paul Maurice behind the bench. "We want to have that continuity within the organization . . . we think that helps give us our best shot at a championship. We want to create an atmosphere of winning."

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Penguins claim Thorburn, set roster

The Pittsburgh Penguins set their season-opening roster Tuesday by claiming forward Chris Thorburn on waivers from the Buffalo Sabres and demoting goaltender Dany Sabourin to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL.

Thorburn, 23, had 23 goals and 27 assists in 77 games last season with Rochester (AHL). He has played only two games in the NHL, both last season with Buffalo. Thorburn was a second-round draft pick by Buffalo in 2001.

Sabourin was not expected to play much as the Penguins have settled on Marc-Andre Fleury as their starter and Jocelyn Thibault as his backup.

The Penguins open the season at home Thursday night against Philadelphia.
 

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AHL youth looking to make an impression

It's not where Rob Schremp had hoped to start his professional career but that hasn't made his upcoming rookie season in the American Hockey League any less exciting.

The 20-year-old will get his first taste of pro hockey when the puck drops on the AHL season Wednesday with the Manitoba Moose visiting Schremp's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

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Leading scorer Petersen returns to Iowa Stars

Iowa Stars leading scorer Toby Petersen officially returned to the American Hockey League team today, practicing with the team for the first time this season.

Petersen was assigned to Iowa by the Edmonton Oilers Saturday, but had to clear waivers early this week, which he did today.

Petersen, 27, led Iowa with 73 points and a team-high 47 assists in 79 games during the 2005-06 season.

The Oilers have a partial affiliation with Iowa again this season. Iowa's
primary NHL affiliate is the Dallas Stars.


Also today:

— Left wing Vojtech Polak, who skated with Iowa last season, was placed on injured reserve by the Dallas Stars.

He suffered a concussion during Dallas’ training camp and did not skate in any preseason games. Once he is cleared to play, he is expected to return to the Iowa Stars’ roster.

— Dallas also announced that newly acquired center Mike Ribeiro will
be unable to play in the NHL team’s season opener Wednesday in Colorado, meaning Iowa Stars left wing Loui Eriksson will likely stay with Dallas to start the NHL season.

Ribeiro, a Canadian citizen, is awaiting immigration clearance. Eriksson was recalled by Dallas Friday.
 

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River Rats kick-off season

River Rats Head Coach Tom Rowe has trimmed his roster. They open the season Friday night at Rochester. It's been awhile since Albany's had a winner on the ice, but this year's group is confident that will change.

Center Keith Aucoin said, "Guys like myself and the other veteran guys here, we wanna change that. We wanna come here. We wanna get some games. We wanna win the championship and get the crowd back into the building. We build off the crowd. And it's tough to play in a building when there's not many people there. So we wanna go out there every night and out on a good show."

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North tight at the top

The North was one of the toughest divisions last season as 100 points was only good enough for third spot.

All signs point to things being tight at the top again as the 71st American Hockey League season gets underway tonight as the Manitoba Moose take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

A sizable portion of the standings is often closely tied to variables like injuries, recalls to the NHL and the rapid development of prospects.

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A big night for Arniel

Opening night will always bring special memories for Scott Arniel, but one big one stands out in particular.

As Arniel gets set for his first game as head coach of the Manitoba Moose, his thoughts turned to the 1983-84 season when the Detroit Red Wings visited the Winnipeg Arena to face the Jets.

"It was Steve Yzerman's first game," said Arniel, recalling the Oct. 5 tilt. "For me, it was a big night. I scored a hat trick and I think Yzerman had two goals and one assist. We were the first and second star and I just remember it more because of Steve Yzerman being on the other side."

Arniel got a taste of being behind the bench and running the show last weekend when the Moose faced the Lakehead University Thunderwolves and thinks his nerves will stay under control.

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Stacked Rivermen should be best in the West

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- Since the Manitoba Moose only face the Philadelphia Phantoms and the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears from the Eastern Conference, we'll focus the rest of our preview on the West.

1. Peoria Rivermen

With Peter Sejna, Mike Glumac and Trent Whitfield leading the offence and Jeff Woywitka and Tomas Mojzis anchoring the defence, the Rivermen should be a force.

2. San Antonio Rampage

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Radulov, Paille and Pouliot among last cuts made by NHL teams

Alexander Radulov, the Canadian major junior player of the year last season, was the last player cut by the Nashville Predators. Radulov, 20, was assigned to the AHL farm team in Milwaukee just before the Tuesday afternoon league deadline to submit rosters of a maximum of 23 players.

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Wolves Shuffle Roster with Additions of Kochan, McMorrow and Insana

The Chicago Wolves have signed goaltender DIETER KOCHAN, right wing SEAN McMORROW and defenseman JON INSANA.

In addition, the Atlanta Thrashers have reassigned forward CHAD PAINCHAUD from the Wolves to the ECHL's Gwinnett Gladiators and have designated forward ADAM SMYTH for reassignment. Chicago has also released right wing CHAZ JOHNSON and defensemen JUSTIN KURTZ and BRIAN LEE from training camp.

KOCHAN has appeared in 21 National Hockey League games, posting a 1-11-1 mark and a 3.96 goals-against average with the Tampa Bay Lightning (1999-2002) and Minnesota Wild (2002-03). The 32-year-old netminder has also notched an 85-72-2 record with a 2.43 goals-against average in 171 American Hockey League tilts with the Springfield Falcons (1999-2000, 2001-02), Bridgeport Sound Tigers (2003-05) and Portland Pirates (2005-06).

Last season, the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, native registered a 3.31 goals-against average in eight games with Novosibirsk of the Russian Super League before recording a 9-4-1 mark with a 2.72 goals-against average in 15 outings with the Pirates.

McMORROW has racked up 1,020 penalty minutes in 220 career American Hockey League games with the Rochester Americans from 2002 to 2006. The 24-year-old forward has also tallied four goals and nine points during that span. He collected two points (G, A) and 130 penalty minutes in 40 contests with the Americans last season.

INSANA has appeared in 23 career AHL tilts, accruing four assists, five points and 16 penalty minutes, which includes notching two helpers, three points and 12 penalty minutes in 13 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Cleveland Barons last season. The Mt. Clemens, Mich., native spent the majority of last season with the United Hockey League's Muskegon Fury, where he was coached by current Wolves Assistant Coach Todd Nelson. INSANA notched 21 assists, 23 points and 63 penalty minutes in 52 contests with the Fury.
 

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I attended the Caps/Devils preseason game in Hershey two Sundays ago and the Hershey/WB game the following Sunday and I have to say that based on the relative enthusiasm of the players and the total lack of physical play by the NHL players, the AHL game was the better game and the better deal for the $$$.NHL tix cost me $30 a seat and the AHL tix were $7.

I know that the NHL has the better players but the lack of hitting in the NHL made me believe all the more that the 'NEW NHL' is Euro figure skating.Dan LaCouture and David Clarkson of the Devils were the ONLY ones that hit at all.

Flame away.
 

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Immonen, Baranka Back

The Wolf Pack's roster was all but finalized Tuesday when the Rangers reassigned center Jarkko Immonen and defenseman Ivan Baranka.

Immonen, the team's No. 2 scorer last season (30 goals, 40 assists), and Baranka, who missed the last 12 games and the playoffs with a broken thumb, give the Pack nine defensemen, 18 forwards and two goalies.

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Rangers A Known Quantity

The surprise factor is gone.

A year ago, Rangers coach Tom Renney and goalie Henrik Lundqvist were unknowns in the spotlight that is the world's media and sports mecca. Plus, the Rangers had missed the playoffs eight consecutive seasons, including the lockout.

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Ready for another run?

WILKES-BARRE TWP. – A year ago, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins opened the season on a record-setting tear.

It wasn’t ’til mid December that the Penguins lost their first regulation game.

By the time they bowed out of the playoffs in the second-round, victims of a four-game sweep at the hands of eventual champion Hershey, the Penguins had:

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No old folks' home

An impressive group of veterans was among the season-opening roster revealed Tuesday by the Albany River Rats, who held their annual media day at Pepsi Arena.

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Two First-Round Draft Picks Highlight Five Sent to Wolves

The Atlanta Thrashers have assigned National Hockey League first-round draft picks center ALEX BOURRET and defenseman BORIS VALABIK to the Chicago Wolves.

In addition, the Thrashers assigned National Hockey League veteran forwards JASON KROG and KYLE WANVIG and defenseman MARK POPOVIC, a member of last year's Wolves squad.

BOURRET, the Thrashers first pick, 16th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, ranked seventh in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with a career-high 70 assists and eighth with a career-most 114 points in 67 games last season with the Shawinigan Cataractes. The 19-year-old forward, who was named to the 2005-06 QMJHL Second All-Star Team, shared eighth in the league with a career-best 23 power-play markers and a career-high 44 goals.

VALABIK was selected by Atlanta 10th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot-7-inch, 230-pound defenseman notched 10 points (G, 9A) in 52 games with the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers last season. He ranked third in the league with a team-best 216 penalty minutes.

KROG has appeared in 175 career NHL games, posting 18 goals and 34 assists with the New York Islanders and the Anaheim Ducks. The 30-year-old forward registered career highs with 10 goals, 15 helpers and 25 points for the Ducks in 2002-03 and helped the squad to an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals with four points (3G, A) in 21 postseason tilts.

The Fernie, British Columbia, native was the recipient of the 1999 Hobey Baker Award, given to the top U.S. collegiate player.

Last season, POPOVIC tied for eighth among American Hockey League defensemen with a career-high 12 goals in 73 games with the Wolves. The 23-year-old blueliner placed seventh on the squad with a career-best 26 assists and 10th with a career-most 38 points.

WANVIG has racked up 14 points (5G, 9A) in 64 career NHL games with the Minnesota Wild over the past three seasons, which includes 12 points (4G, 8A) and 64 penalty minutes for the Wild last season. The 25-year-old forward has accrued 57 goals, 113 points and 488 penalty minutes in 239 career AHL outings with the Houston Aeros (2001-2005). He was a member of the Aeros' 2003 Calder Cup Championship squad.
 

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Iowa's leading scorer returns

DES MOINES, IA - Iowa Stars Director of Hockey Operations Scott White today confirmed that the Edmonton Oilers have reassigned center Toby Petersen to the Iowa Stars. Per agreement with the Stars primary affiliate, the Dallas Stars, the Oilers have a partial affiliation that allows them to reassign player(s) to Iowa.

Now in his seventh season as a professional, Petersen paced the Iowa Stars last season in several categories including: points (73), assists (47), games played (79), and points per game (.92). The Minneapolis, Minnesota native finished the 2005-06 Regular Season ranked 17th in the AHL in points, and 20th in assists: 79(26/47/73). Named the Iowa Stars Most Valuable Player and Community Service Award winner and selected as the Stars Fan Favorite, Petersen was tied for second on the team with a 'plus 14' rating. The 27 year-old notched two goals and four assists in Iowa's seven-game playoff series with Milwaukee. His NHL Regular Season totals reflect 10 goals, 16 assists and eight penalty minutes in 91 games, all as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins: 91(10/16/26)8. Including last season, his AHL numbers show 112 goals, 167 assists in 372 games: 372(112/167/279).

IOWA STARS INFO: The Stars Opening Night is scheduled for Thursday, October 12th against Houston. Wells Fargo Arena game time is 7:05 PM. Season ticket packages are on sale now at the Stars office, located at 833 5th Avenue in Downtown Des Moines. Full season packages begin at only $336, with 12-game mini-plans as low as $168. Discounted group tickets are available for all 40 home dates. For more information, please contact an Iowa Stars ticket representative at 515-23-STARS.
 

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Sound Tigers Roster Taking Shape

As the start of the regular season approaches, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers' opening night roster continues to take shape. The Sound Tigers have trimmed their training camp roster, yet have also gained some new faces with players having been assigned by the parent club New York Islanders.

The Islanders sent forwards Brandon Cullen and Peter Ferraro along with defenseman Rick Berry, all of whom spent most of preseason at Islanders' training camp.

The release of 16 camp invitees following five exhibition games leaves the Sound Tigers with 28 skaters; the team will continue to make cuts in the final week of practice in preparation for the Oct. 8 season opener at Binghamton.

Players still contending for opening night roster spots are: Goaltenders Wade Dubielewicz, Michael Mole and Billy Thompson Defenseman Drew Fata, Brent Henley, Jason Goulet, Johan Halvardsson, Kevin Mitchell, Bryan Rodney, Ryan Caldwell, Allan Rourke, Mark Wotton and Berry. Forwards Jason Pitton, Robert Nilsson, Sergei Ogorodnikov, Ken Magowan, Frans Nielsen, Petteri Nokelainen, Jamie Johnson, Steve Regier, Matt Koalska, Masi Marjamaki, Luch Aquino, Jeremy Colliton, Blake Comeau, Ferraro and Cullen.

The Sound Tigers went 3-2 in preseason games, splitting contests with Hartford and Albany and defeating Providence. Competing for the role of backup goaltender behind returnee Dubielewicz, Mole kicked aside 41 of 46 shots in the final regular season tune-up, a 5-3 setback to Hartford, on Sunday and Thompson stopped 47 shots in a 4-1 loss to Albany on Saturday.

The Sound Tigers play their first regular season home game Friday, Oct. 20 against the Hartford Wolf Pack at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information visit soundtigers.com.
 

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Harding back, Aeros release three

HOUSTON, Texas - The National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild has assigned goaltender Josh Harding to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League, the teams announced Tuesday. The Aeros also released goalie Tom Lawson and forward Marco Rosa today, and reassigned defenseman Mike Madill to ECHL Texas. Rosa will also join the Wildcatters.

Harding, 22 (6/18/84), is entering his third Aeros season. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound native of Regina, Sask., is the Aeros' all-time AHL wins leader with a mark of 50-24-3, a 2.33 gaa and a .926 save percentage. Harding also made his NHL debut last season with the Wild, going 2-1-0 with a 2.59 gaa and one shutout.

Harding went 29-8-0 with a 2.68 gaa and a .922 save percentage in 38 games with Houston in 2005-06. Despite missing considerable time due to injuries and callups, Harding ranked tied for first in the AHL in save percentage and fourth in wins.

The following 28 players are on the Aeros' roster:

Goaltenders (4): Josh Harding, Miroslav Kopriva, Tony Quesada (injured), Steve Shields

Defenseman (9): Paul Albers, Shawn Belle, Curtis Murphy, Chris Ovington, Peter Ratchuk, Erik Reitz, John Scott, Ryan Stokes, Clayton Stoner

Forwards (15): Riley Emmerson, Matt Foy, Ryan Hamilton, Danny Irmen, Alex Leavitt, Bryan Lundbohm, Jason Morgan, Josh Olson, Peter Olvecky, Benoit Pouliot, Wyatt Smith, Joey Tetarenko, Ben Thomson, Roman Voloshenko, Joel Ward

The Aeros open up the 2006-07 American Hockey League season at Toyota Center on Saturday at 7:35 p.m. against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Buy tickets! The team will honor 1994-95 Aeros Mark Freer, Graeme Townshend, Al Conroy and Steve Jaques. The first 3,000 fans will receive an Aeros camouflage hat. Pre-season party outside Toyota Center begins at 5:30 p.m., featuring two of Houston 's premier mobile entertainers, Olyn D. Taylor (DJ Specialist) and Lloyd C. Lively (Lively DJs). There will be great music, games, prizes and fun in front of Toyota Center.

Sunday at 5:05 p.m., the Aeros take on the Iowa Stars. "Mr. Hockey" ® Gordie Howe returns to Houston to have his No. 9 raised to the Toyota Center rafters. Buy tickets! It's also an Aeros Family Day. Get four tickets, four Aeros pucks, $20 in Toyota Bucks and free parking, all for just $67. Click here to buy. Username is Family, password is Aeros. Or call 713.974.PUCK to order your Family Day. It's also magnetic schedule night, compliments of FramesDirect.com. The pre-game party Sunday begins at 3 p.m.!
 
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