After a year of turning their top prospects into minor-league vagabonds, the Ducks have identified an American Hockey League affiliate.
Their multi-year deal with the Syracuse Crunch, announced Thursday, comes less than a week after the Columbus Dispatch first reported that the Blue Jackets and Crunch were in the process of parting ways. It also came as a relief to general manager Bob Murray, who has been anxious to find an AHL affiliate since the Ducks terminated their agreement with the now-defunct Iowa Chops in May, 2009.
“We are thrilled to be affiliating with the Syracuse Crunch in such a great hockey market,” Murray said in a statement. “Syracuse is steeped in hockey tradition and we are excited to partner with an ownership and management team that shares the same commitment to winning and player development as we do.”
Saku Koivu’s third-period goal was the lone highlight in a loss that further reduced the Ducks’ playoff hopes to a prayer. A four-game winning streak has vanished with back-to-back losses in Western Canada, leaving the Ducks 11 points behind the Detroit Red Wings for eighth place in the Western Conference standings.
Ryan Getzlaf vanished, too. He left down the tunnel when he fell awkwardly on his problematic left ankle in the second period. Getzlaf has already missed three games this month with injuries to the ankle.
Jonas Hiller stopped 26 of 29 shots, but was beaten by a pair of long drives by Christian Ehrhoff and Daniel Sedin in the first period. Alexandre Burrows’ 33rd goal of the season made it 3-0 in the second period, before Koivu finally made a dent in the Canucks’ lead. He took a short pass from Teemu Selanne and flicked the puck in the short side of the net past Andrew Raycroft, who got the start in favor of Roberto Luongo.
Ryan Kesler’s goal into an empty net sealed the Ducks’ loss, which ended a four-game winning streak against Vancouver dating back
to Mar. 11, 2009.
The Ducks’ record in the second end of back-to-back games dropped to 3-9-3, and their road record fell to 11-20-5. Though there won’t be nearly as much at stake, Anaheim has one more chance to improve that record – Friday in Edmonton – before coming home.
It’s a long way from Finland to Anaheim. But 600 goals is worth the distance.
Jari Kurri is scheduled to be present Monday when former teammate and fellow Finn Teemu Selanne is honored for scoring his 600th goal Sunday – one short of Kurri’s 601. Kurri, who played for the Ducks with Selanne during the 1996-97 season, was Selanne’s childhood idol and is a longtime friend. He will be flying in from Finland specifically for the ceremony.
Prior to Anaheim’s contest against Dallas at Honda Center (7:05 p.m.), Selanne will be presented with gifts from the team at center ice for his historic achievement. He will also be greeted by Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli.
The Flames won the faceoffs, the open-ice battles and, inevitably, the game.
Scott Niedermayer scored the Ducks’ only goal, and Jonas Hiller’s black-and-white helmet debuted with a 25-save effort.
The standings picture grew bleaker for the Ducks, who remained nine points behind the idle Detroit Red Wings for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Dallas Stars won, dropping Anaheim into 12th place in the standings.
With the game tied at 1 and 1:35 left in the third period. Calgary took advantage of an ill-advised play by Corey Perry. Looking for a shot, Perry skated the puck around behind the net, then all the way out to the blue line before Jarome Iginla poke-checked the puck off his stick. Rene Bourque picked it up and skated in uncontested for the go-ahead goal.
The Flames made it 3-1 at 3:05 of the third period when Niklas Hagman beat the Ducks’ defense through center ice, then scored off a perfect diagonal pass in the slot from Iginla.
Calgary won 26 of 43 faceoffs, a 60 percent success rate. They also got lucky when Bobby Ryan chose to pass instead of shoot into a wide-open net with about 12 minutes left in the third period, a sequence that could have brought the Ducks within 3-2.
The Ducks fell to 11-19-5 on the road this season.
The Ducks recalled Brendan Mikkelson from Toronto of the American Hockey League. Mikkelson was most recently with the Ducks from Feb. 25 through March 1, but returned to the AHL after the Olympic break.
Mikkelson has two assists and eight penalty minutes in 22 games this season.
**Update: Mikkelson isn’t in the lineup tonight against the Calgary Flames, but head coach Randy Carlyle wanted more injury insurance on the blue line than recent signee Jake Newton, who has never played in an NHL game.
The Ducks have signed University of Minnesota-Duluth junior Rob Bordson to a two-year, entry-level contract.
The 21-year-old, listed as both a center and a left wing, came out of nowhere last season to record 12 goals and 40 points in 40 games for the Bulldogs. From the UMD Web site:
Bordson, a native of Duluth, Minn., placed in a tie for third on the UMD scoring charts this past winter with 40 points on 12 goals and 28 assists after going pointless in 15 outings as a sophomore. That represented the second largest one-year scoring improvement of any Bulldog in 17 years. Named insidecollegehockey.com’s WCHA Breakthrough Player of the Year for 2009-10, Bordson currently ranks sixth in the league in overall assists and third in power play points (23).
Bordson becomes the sixth Bulldog since 2007 to leave school early for the professional ranks, joining winger Mason Raymond (with Vancouver in 2007), defensemen Matt
Niskanen (Dallas in 2007), Jason Garrison (Florida in 2008) and Evan Oberg (Vancouver in 2009) and goaltender Alex Stalock (San Jose in 2009).
Bordson’s career stats:
Team League GP G
A Pts. PIM
Rapids USHL 47 6 29
of Minn.-Duluth WCHA 27 1 6
U. of Minn.-Duluth WCHA 15 0 0
U. of Minn.-Duluth WCHA 40 12 28
Teemu Selanne got a 600-goal monkey off his back, and the Ducks are staying alive.
Selanne reached the milestone 34 seconds into the second period with Anaheim skating 5-on-4.
Jason Blake, Matt Beleskey, Troy Bodie and Ryan Getzlaf also scored for the Ducks, who chased Craig Anderson with Bodie’s short-handed goal at 12:45 of the second period.
Jonas Hiller made 26 saves for the victory. Anaheim remains seven points out of the eighth and final playoff position, currently held by the Detroit Red Wings.
The Ducks have locked up one of their top prospects, signing Boston University center Nick Bonino to a two-year, entry-level contract and adding him to the NHL roster.
This season, Bonino gets a prorated $787,500 contract as long as he’s in the NHL and his NHL salary dips to $630,000 next season. He’ll make $67,500 in the minors both years of the contract, and gets a $175,000 signing bonus (split over two the two seasons) for a cap hit of $875,000.
The 21-year-old saw his junior season at BU come to an end Friday with a loss to the University of Maine in the Hockey East semifinals. He had a team-leading 27 assists and 38 points in 33 contests. His 120 shots and plus-18 rating were also team highs. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound center ranked tied for 10th among Hockey East players in scoring.
As a sophomore, he helped the Terriers capture the NCAA Division I title by scoring the game-tying goal with 18 seconds remaining to force overtime against Miami (Ohio) University. He finished second on the club with 18 goals and 50 points in 44 games and was one of only seven college hockey players to register 50 or more points.
Selected by the San Jose Sharks in the sixth round (173rd overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Bonino was acquired by Anaheim with goaltender Timo Pielmeier in exchange for left wing Travis Moen and defenseman Kent Huskins on Mar. 4, 2009. In his first year at BU, Bonino led all Hockey East freshmen in goals, scoring 16 in 39 games.