Connect with us
Download the Field Pass Hockey App on Your Mobile Device Today
02 06 2023 ASA0982 Field Pass Hockey

2023 AHL All-Star Classic

Stars Shine Brightest on AHL’s Biggest Stage

#AHL | The 2023 All-Star Classic lived up to its name and then some on Monday night. @FPHWolves looks back on the big plays of the big night and what made this event special

Thomas Bordeleau gets one past Brandon Bussi. Photo Courtesy: Andrew Fielder

Stars Shine Brightest on AHL’s Biggest Stage

LAVAL, Qc. – After a weekend of anticipation, after the display of skill for the entire hockey world to see, all of the excitement, and all of the festivities. After two years of delays, the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic was here.

The energy was palpable from the warmups and would only ramp up as Place Bell filled up with the passionate fans that pack the house on a nightly basis for the Rocket. As the players entered, the loudest cheers were reserved for players of French-Canadian descent, such as San Jose’s Thomas Bordeleau, but the deafening roars came for hometown heroes Alex Belzile and Anthony Richard.

Six round-robin games would be played of two five-minute periods each, with each division going up against the others until two teams were left standing to battle it out in the final. By the time the fireworks and the fanfare were over, the Pacific All-Stars had taken the event in a show where all the stars of the league shined brightest on the biggest stage.

First Round

The North and Pacific All-Stars went at it first off. Early on, Bordeleau’s slick hands and smooth skating were on display, but Egor Sokolov (Belleville) would be the first to break the ice in this event for the North.

Coachella Valley’s Max McCormick would equalize but just seconds after the following puck drops, Richard would speed by and pound a shot off the bar and in, prompting an explosion of cheer from the hometown faithful in attendance. Richard even added a little flair with the celebration, egging on the fans to get even louder with their celebration as the players took the experience in.

Ontario’s TJ Tynan equalized for the Pacific, and the ensuing shootout was dominated by the goalies. Toronto’s Joseph Woll and Calgary’s Dustin Wolf stood tall in the creases, resulting in an opening round tie for the Pacific and North sides.

Following up the opening act was the Central and Atlantic All-Stars going at it. The Atlantic jumped out to an early lead with goals from Charlotte’s Riley Nash and Hershey’s Ethen Frank.

“There’s a lot of skill in this league, especially young skill in both conferences.” Frank said of the weekend. “There’s different ways to play the games across the league. It’s really interesting to see that since we don’t get to see it throughout the year.”

In need of some offense – Texas coach Neil Graham leaned on his guy Riley Barber to bring the Central back.

Barber would score twice while another Texas Star in Thomas Harley added another to counter Bridgeport’s Ruslan Iskhakov. The shootout would show up for the second time in as many matches. There would be no tie as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Alex Nylander buried his chance to give the Atlantic All-Stars the first win of this competition.

While the Zambonis cleared the ice, the fans in Laval were treated to a live performance from FouKi and Koriass dropping some beats to keep the crowd entertained and the show going on.

Second Round

The Pacific All-Stars came out flying in their second round matchup against the Atlantic, with Bakersfield’s Seth Griffith breaking in for a goal just ten seconds in. Bordeleau and Tynan just seconds apart put the Pacific up 3-0 just over a minute in.

Nylander fed Lehigh Valley’s Ronnie Attard to give the Atlantic some life, but the Pacific responded with another onslought of offense led by goals by Calgary’s  Matthew Phillips, Griffith, and Abbotsford’s Christian Wolanin on a nice feed from Tynan.

It was just too much firepower as the Pacific skated off with the 6-2 win after an Iskhakov highlight marker at the buzzer with a sleek between the legs move and finish on the backhand.

As the Central and North got into one, fast starts were the theme in the second round – a minute in and Iowa’s Jesper Wallstedt helped feed Toronto’s Logan Shaw for the goal – the only issue was that Shaw played for the other team. Wallstedt made up for it on the next shift, denying a two-on-none with an incredible glove save leading to a Luke Evangelista marker to tie the match at one.

Markers from Syracuse’s Darren Raddysh and another from Barber led us to the shootout, where the goalies were too good. Wolf, subbed in occasionally for Milwaukee’s Yaroslav Askarovwho couldn’t make the events of the weekend. He went up against Raddysh, fresh off his victory in the hardest shot, as Raddysh let a massive slap shot go that just missed the net.

“I didn’t really realize he was the one coming down at first,” Wolf said of the attempt. “And then he wound up at about the hash marks. Kind of lost my soul a little bit, but the puck flipped up on him so thankfully I didn’t have to take it off the chin.”

The goalies stood tall and we had our second draw of the competition.

Third Round

Beginning with a Western Conference showdown of the Central and Pacific All-Stars, Harley struck early again, throwing a passionate fist bump by the bench to get the boys fired up. The Pacific responded with Henderson’s Brayden Pachal snapping one in. The Central attacked the net, but Lukas Dostal came up with huge back-to-back before serving the puck up the boards. Who else but Griffith would take it and bury it for the 2-1 lead?

Tynan snapped home another one on the night to extend the lead, but Iowa’s Sammy Walker responded to draw the Central back within one. When the Central came knocking again, it was Wolf to step up and make the huge stop leading to another Griffith goal going the other way to put this one away with another Pachal goal for a 5-2 win to sent the Central All-Stars to the showers early.

In the battle of the Eastern Conference All-Stars, it was the Tyson Foerster show early on. His two markers put the Atlantic up early, but a Richard goal brought the North to within striking distance – again – to the adoration of the hometown fans.

With last year’s Eastern Conference Final fresh in the minds of Laval’s faithful, every time Joel Hofer made it into the net, the fans made sure to let him know they were there.

Raddysh got a look to the net and his backhand tied the game up, though Nylander added one with just over a minute left seemingly to send the Atlantic to the final. With the goalie pulled, the North frantically tried to tie the game with several chances. Ultimately it was Sokolov to bury the equalizer and send this game to a shootout.

It took eleven rounds of shootout, and despite all in attendance trying to will the North to succeed, Providence’s Brandon Bussi impersonated a brick wall in net and Nylander snuck one in to send the Atlantic to the finals. Before skating off, the hometown fans made sure to salute their Rocket representatives and all in the North.

“Oh, they’re crazy. They are just a lot of fun here.” Nylander said of the fans. “It was nice to have those goals in the shootout for them. I guess I’ve had some practice on it this season.”

“It was crazy,” Griffith echoed of the fans. “I think they wanted their hometown boys to win out there. It was a pretty cool shootout. Unfortunately they didn’t pull it out but I think they were still really happy with how everyone did.”


Atlantic vs. Pacific All-Stars: all the star power you could ask for. Guess who? Yup, it’s Seth Griffith again breaking the ice just 18 seconds in to give the Pacific the lead. On the ensuing puck drop, Tynan went a little unconventional.

“I couldn’t believe I got good wood on it.” Tynan said with a grin on his face. “I was practicing it up in Colorado and figured why not?”

Despite all the firepower on the Pacific side, the goalies stood out again: Wolf and Dostal put up a combined donut in the six-minute final period, including an on-the-fly line change that had fans on their feet seeing the goalies in full spring from crease to bench. The shutout effort earned them both MVP honors as the Pacific Division All-Stars took the final 1-0 to win the All-Star Classic.

“It was unbelievable.” Dostal said of the event. “I was so surprised with the environment and the rink. In my opinion, its an NHL rink. It feels like an NHL rink.”

“It was an outstandingly run event from start to finish.” Wolf said looking back. “I had an outstanding time, and I’m sure everyone else can attest to that. They’ve taken good care of us and I’ve just enjoyed my time. It’s been fun. Now I’m just looking forward to getting back with the guys and get the season going.”

Looking Back:

  • Wow! What an event! The players loved it. The fans loved it. The product on and off the ice was incredible from the moment the red carpet all the way until the awards were handed out. The smiles on the fans and their piercing cheers when players would come over to take a selfie or play rock paper scissors is the kind of stuff at the heart of an event like this. Credit to the AHL and the Laval Rocket for putting on an incredible show for everyone to enjoy.
  • Another aspect at the heart of the event is the love of the game. It’s understandable that the game is trying to grow at the NHL level, but it’s clear that what’s going on here works and has been working for the AHL at some time. Instead of doing…whatever it was that was going on in Florida, perhaps the NHL should look in-house. A lot of fans up top aren’t happy with the product, meanwhile AHL fans can’t get enough. It’s time to examine why that is.
  • Wolf and Dostal are two of the premier goaltending prospects of this league, and they came out to show it tonight. You’re going to see long NHL careers out of this pair, and years from now we’ll be looking back from some classic battles between the two of them and reminisce on where they got their start. This is just another stepping stone on a bright future for these two young netminders.
  • What’s next? For Alex Nylander, some rest:

“Just to keep doing what I’ve been doing. It works.” Was his takeaway. “Now, I’m going to enjoy two days of a break and just get back to work.”

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2023 season!

    Andrew Rinaldi covers the Chicago Wolves for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHWolves.

    Elite Prospects
    Shop Rally House

    Recent Posts


    More in 2023 AHL All-Star Classic

    Sporfie - Just Highlights!