After soundly defeating the Houston Aeros on Sunday, the Oklahoma City Barons earned Todd Nelson the honor of coaching the Western Conference team at the AHL All-Star Game in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Monday, January 30th. How did he win such a coveted honor? Simply by coaching the team with the best record in the West. But the accolades continue as the American League announced its All-Star rosters today.
The Barons included on the team are goaltender Yann Danis, who is having a fantastic season statistcally, Philippe Cornet, who had a goal scoring tear to begin the season, and Alex Plante, whom is still recovering from concussion like symptons and a broken nose.
Danis and Cornet were shoe-ins. The goaltender is in the top five in almost every statistical category in the league including a save percentage of .924 with 14 wins to 5 losses. He's the best goaltender to play more than 20 games, no question about it.
Cornet, who was dinged up for a few games recently, ranks 5th in goals scored in the league with 16. Keep in mind, that he's scored 16 goals in 27 games. Add three assists to the total, and Cornet is having one incredible first half of a 2011-12 season despite missing a string of games around the holidays.
The odd-ball in the mix is Alex Plante. Plante, now with the parent club in Edmonton, began the season with a terrible showing. At the six game mark he was dreadful. He was recalled to the Oilers and somehow was able to right the ship. He sits at a +13 which is in the top ten in the league, and he hasn't played since before Christmas. His odd and sudden surge has been a welcome respite from the Plante we've known in years past, at least in the minors. With Plante in the NHL a replacement will probably be named. I'd recommend Kevin Montgomery, who's a defenseman that has quietly been solid, and not too far behind Plante's +/- ranking.
A few absent from the list were Triston Grant, who's been a feisty scorer and tenacious fighter. Ryan O'Marra is another name that could have been considered, but he's only just begun to heat up in the month of December and into January. David LeNeveu, the Barons other goaltender, probably doesn't get consideration because Danis has had such a dynamic year. He also has only played 15 games. The league also omitted Ryan Keller, who is a league darling as a recent Calder Cup winner, but ends up at 12 goals and 14 assists which is around the 30th mark in the league. Just shy of making the cut in my humble opinion
You'll recall that last season Alexandre Giroux and Linus Omark were named to the All-Star squad with Colin McDonald taking the NHL-bound Omark's spot. The remarkable thing is that the Barons have three players and one coach attending the All-Star game which is quite the feat. This speaks volumes to a team that is really playing strong, determined hockey. So congratulations to the OKC All-Stars! Enjoy Atlantic City (insert Boardwalk Empire joke here).