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Ontario Reign's Budaj, LoVerde, Mersch & Stothers Are AHL All-Stars

Ontario reigns over the Pacific with three All-Star player selections and one coach

David Sheehan

Peter Budaj, Vincent LoVerde, Michael Mersch, and Coach Mike Stothers have been selected for this year's AHL All-Star Game.

Budaj tops the AHL in games played (26), goals against average (1.69), and wins (17). He's tied for the league lead in shutouts (4) and is fourth in save percentage (.930). For the long-time NHL goalie, this has been a real bounceback year. Last season with the St. John's IceCaps, he went winless in 19 games, posting a 3.55 GAA and .888 save %. The 33-year-old has certainly played himself back into discussion for an NHL job.

LoVerde paces Ontario defenseman with 14 points. A well-respected leader, he captains the Western Conference-leading Reign; he also captained last year's Calder Cup-winning Manchester Monarchs. It's been a long road for the 26-year-old, whose first professional stint was with the ECHL's Ontario Reign. It's nice to see him get some well-deserved recognition.

Despite being called up to the NHL about a month ago, Mersch still leads Ontario in goals (12 in 19 games) and shots (tied with Sean Backman, 93). Of course, if the big winger is still with the Kings at the end of this month, he won't be joining Budaj, Loverde, and Coach Stothers in Syracuse.

As for the Stothers, this is his second consecutive All-Star head coaching berth; he also appeared as an assistant coach twice in 1998 and 1999.

From the AHL press release:

The American Hockey League announced today the playing rosters for the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic, to take place January 31 and February 1 in Syracuse, N.Y.

Each of the AHL’s four divisions will be represented by 13 players: seven forwards, four defensemen and two goaltenders. Rosters were determined by committees of AHL coaches, and all 30 AHL teams are represented by at least one All-Star.

The 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 31 (8 p.m. ET) will keep its traditional format, with All-Stars from the Eastern Conference squaring off against All-Stars from the Western Conference in seven skills events.

The 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Challenge will take place on the evening of Feb. 1 (7 p.m. ET); instead of a traditional 60-minute game, the AHL’s All-Stars will be divided into four teams, one representing each of the league’s divisions (Atlantic, North, Central, Pacific). The teams will then play a round-robin tournament featuring six games of nine minutes each; the first half of each game will be played at 4-on-4, and the second half at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin tournament will face off for the championship, a six-minute game played at 3-on-3.

Atlantic Division AHL All-Stars
G Matt Murray, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st appearance)
G Anthony Stolarz, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (1st)
D Connor Carrick, Hershey Bears (2nd)
D Ryan Graves, Hartford Wolf Pack (1st)
D Derrick Pouliot, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2nd)
D Ryan Pulock, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1st)
F Chris Bourque, Hershey Bears (4th)
F Nick Cousins, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (1st)
F Seth Griffith, Providence Bruins (1st)
F Dustin Jeffrey, Springfield Falcons (2nd)
F Rob Schremp, Portland Pirates (2nd)
F Dominik Simon, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)
F Joe Whitney, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (3rd)
Coach: Jay Leach, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)

North Division AHL All-Stars
G Yann Danis, Albany Devils (3rd appearance)
G Kristers Gudlevskis, Syracuse Crunch (1st)
D Mark Barberio, St. John's IceCaps (3rd)
D T.J. Brennan, Toronto Marlies (3rd)
D Michael Kostka, Binghamton Senators (1st)
D Matt Taormina, Syracuse Crunch (2nd)
F Mike Angelidis ("C"), Syracuse Crunch (1st)
F Josh Leivo, Toronto Marlies (1st)
F Michael McCarron, St. John's IceCaps (1st)
F William Nylander, Toronto Marlies (1st)
F Cal O'Reilly, Rochester Americans (4th)
F Hunter Shinkaruk, Utica Comets (1st)
F Mike Sislo, Albany Devils (1st)
Coach: Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Marlies (1st)

Central Division AHL All-Stars
G Connor Hellebuyck, Manitoba Moose (2nd appearance)
G Michael Leighton, Rockford IceHogs (4th)
D Andre Benoit, Chicago Wolves (1st)
D Trevor Carrick, Charlotte Checkers (1st)
D Gustav Olofsson, Iowa Wild (1st)
D Xavier Ouellet, Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
F Pat Cannone, Chicago Wolves (1st)
F Frederick Gaudreau, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
F Ryan Hartman, Rockford IceHogs (1st)
F Jeff Hoggan ("C"), Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
F Vladislav Kamenev, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
F Derek Ryan, Charlotte Checkers (1st)
F Kerby Rychel, Lake Erie Monsters (1st)
Coach: Dean Evason, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)

Pacific Division AHL All-Stars
G Laurent Brossoit, Bakersfield Condors (1st appearance)
G Peter Budaj, Ontario Reign (1st)
D Brad Hunt, Bakersfield Condors (3rd)
D Esa Lindell, Texas Stars (1st)
D Vincent LoVerde, Ontario Reign (1st)
D Brandon Montour, San Diego Gulls (1st)
F Barclay Goodrow, San Jose Barracuda (1st)
F Derek Grant, Stockton Heat (1st)
F Michael Mersch, Ontario Reign (1st)
F Travis Morin, Texas Stars (2nd)
F Brendan Ranford, Texas Stars (1st)
F Mikko Rantanen, San Antonio Rampage (1st)
F Nick Ritchie, San Diego Gulls (1st)
Coach: Mike Stothers, Ontario Reign (4th)