February 25, 2010

THE BEST OF THE AHLPlaying for fun, but also playing with a purpose

PAUL BETIT

— WHAT: Time Warner Cable AHL All-Star Classic in Portland

click image to enlarge

Former Pirates Chris Ferraro, left, and Peter Ferraro served as captains for the PlanetUSA team the last time Portland hosted the AHL All-Star Classic, in 2003.

2003 Press Herald File

click image to enlarge

Former Pirates Chris Ferraro, left, and Peter Ferraro served as captains for the PlanetUSA team the last time Portland hosted the AHL All-Star Classic, in 2003.

2003 Press Herald File

Monday

n AHL skills competition, Cumberland County Civic Center, 8 p.m. (TV: NESN)

Tuesday

n AHL Hall of Fame induction and awards ceremony, Merrill Auditorium, noon

n AHL All-Star Game, Cumberland County Civic Center, 6 p.m. (TV: NESN)

n Tickets can be purchased online by visiting www.

portlandpirates.com. Or you can call the Portland Pirates at 828-4665 ext. 350 or the Cumberland County Civic Center box office at 775-3458.By

Staff Writer

When players take the ice Tuesday night for the AHL All-Star Game at the Cumberland County Civic Center, it will just be for fun, right?

Not exactly.

''Anytime you play those games, people have a perception that there is not a lot on the line,'' said former Portland Pirates forward Kent Hulst. ''But that is not true. Guys want to win and play well.''

Hulst, who spent eight seasons with the Pirates, served as captain of the Canadian team in the 2001 AHL All-Star Game at the Wachovia Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He's one of 29 Pirates who have played in the league's annual All-Star Game, dating back to 1995.

''You're playing for your league, You're playing for your country, and you're playing for everybody in the locker room because it's a huge honor to be selected to an All-Star team,'' he said. ''If you end up winning, you end up with the bragging rights.''

In 2001, the Canadians eked out an 11-10 win against Planet-USA.

The Time Warner Cable AHL All-Star Classic starts with the skills competition at 8 p.m. Monday, followed by the All-Star Game at 6 p.m. Tuesday

Hulst is now the head of hockey operations at North Yarmouth Academy, where he coaches the boys' varsity team in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference and manages Travis Roy Arena.

Hulst, who retired as a player at the end of the 2000-01 season, isn't the only Pirates player who has served as an All-Star captain.

Twins Chris and Peter Ferraro served as co-captains of the PlanetUSA team in 2003, the first time the event was held at the Civic Center.

''For us it was really great,'' said Chris Ferraro. ''We were fan favorites and everything, and it was just a real, real memorable experience for us and a tremendous honor.''

The 2003 game was played two months after Chris Ferraro's wife died of stomach cancer.

''It was a tragic situation,'' said Peter Ferraro. ''It was pretty special the way the hockey community kind of came together, and the way the American Hockey League came together to support us and the City of Portland, as well.''

The Ferraros also played in AHL All-Star games in Philadelphia; Rochester, N.Y.; Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; and Saint John, New Brunswick.

Was each one special?

''Absolutely,'' Peter Ferraro said. ''Every city has its own unique flavor.''

The Ferraros, who played on the University of Maine's national championship team in 1993, retired last year after spending the last two seasons of their 14-year professional careers with the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers.

Chris Ferraro is developing a training center for young players in New York on his native Long Island.

''It would be great to stay in hockey by teaching and instructing and working with kids,'' he said.

Peter Ferraro is president of InterSports, which recently was licensed by the National Hockey League to build official Web sites for current and former NHL players.

Of the former Pirates who have played in an AHL All-Star game, 13 are still playing pro hockey.

Now in his 14th NHL season, Andrew Brunette played in the 1997 All-Star Game. The left wing is in his second stint with the Minnesota Wild.

A veteran of 10 NHL seasons, J.P. Dumont played in the 1999 game during his only season with the Pirates. The right wing is in his fourth season with the Nashville Predators.

Trent Whitfield, a center who played in the 2003 game in the midst of his seven-year stay with the Pirates, was recently called up by the Boston Bruins from Providence. After leaving Portland in 2005, he spent four seasons with the St. Louis Blues organization.

Steve Eminger, a defenseman for the Anaheim Ducks, played in the 2005 contest during his second and final season with the Pirates. During his seven NHL seasons, he also has played for the Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

Ryan Shannon, a center who led the Pirates in scoring in the 2005-06 season, when he played in the All-Star Game, is in his second season with the Ottawa Senators.

Bobby Ryan, a right wing who will play for Team USA in the Winter Olympics next month, is in his second full season with the Ducks. He played in last year's All-Star Game during a 54-game stint with the Pirates.

Andrew Ebbett, a center who also played in the 2008 game during his only season with the Pirates, has played for the Ducks, the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota.

Brian Salcido, a defenseman who made an appearance in the 2008 All-Star Game, now plays for the Manitoba Moose.

Five other players who represented the Pirates in past AHL All-Star games are now playing in Europe.

Alexei Tezikov, a defenseman who played in the 2001 game during a two-year stint with the Pirates, is playing for the Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia.

Mark Murphy, a forward who also played for PlanetUSA in 2001, is playing for the DEG Metro Stars in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Nick Naumenko, a goalie who played in the 2002 game, has played in Switzerland for four seasons.

Rastislav Stana, a goalie who played in the 2004 game during two full seasons with the Pirates, is in his second season with the KHL's Cherepovets Severstal.

Joe Motzko, a right wing who played in the 2007 game, is playing for Ingolstadt ERC in the German Elite League.

LAKE ERIE Monster forward T.J. Hensick and Worcester Sharks goalie Alex Stalock have been added to the PlanetUSA roster, and Norfolk Admirals forward Blair Jones has been added to the Canadian team.

Norfolk's Brandon Bochenski and Hershey's Michal Neuvirth will miss the event after being called up to the NHL, and Lake Erie's Darren Haydar will miss the game because of an injury.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)