Hershey appropriate site for AHL All-Star Game Wing/captain Norris is Bandits representative

January 16, 1996|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

HERSHEY, Pa. -- No one is really sure why the AHL All-Star Game was canceled after a fairly impressive run in the 1950s, but its resumption last year proved a huge success as nearly 12,000 fans packed the Civic Center in Providence, R.I., to see a squad made up of players from the league's Canadian franchises beat their U.S. counterparts, 6-4.

What better locale to further advance the fledgling tradition of such a showcase than Hersheypark Arena, a 7,256-seat jewel that has served as a cornerstone of the league since 1937? Hershey played host to the first All-Star matchup in 1954, did it again five years later, and is a fitting host for tonight's 7:30 show, part of the league's 60th anniversary celebration.

The teams will be made up the same way they were last year, Robbie Ftorek of the Albany River Rats coaching the squad representing the dozen U.S. franchises and Tom Watt of the St. John's Maple Leafs handling players from the six teams based in Canada.

Fans in the league's cities voted for their favorite players, with a committee of coaches filling out the 20-man rosters.

Representing the Bandits will be right wing Dwayne Norris, who replaces fan choice Steve King, called up to the NHL by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks a couple of weeks ago. Lately, it has been as if Norris, Baltimore's team captain, wanted to prove to those voting that he should have been selected.

Norris scored his 20th goal (in 27 games) with just 44 seconds remaining at Carolina on Sunday night to give the Bandits a 5-5 tie with the Monarchs as the team hit the midseason break on a five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2).

On Friday, also against Carolina, Norris had a goal and three assists. In the preceding three games, he had three goals and four assists, including a score in overtime to end his team's home losing streak.

Last year, Ralph Intranuovo of Cape Breton was named MVP of the All-Star Game and Norris was selected Player of the Game for the victorious Canadians. At season's end, he was named all-league first team.

The AHL conducted an All-Star Game from 1954 to 1960, the league champion from the previous season taking on a squad composed of players from the other five teams. The champion prevailed in four of the six contests.

Last January, the losing goalie for the U.S. team was Jim Carey of Portland, who, after going 30-14-11 for the Pirates, was called up to the Washington Capitals on March 1 and turned them around with an 18-6-3 record and four shutouts.

The teams, after a skills competition last night, scheduled 45-minute practices early today in attempts to get players functioning as close to a team as possible.

Legendary Hall of Famer Gordie Howe probably said it best about the site of tonight's game: "Everybody who's anybody in hockey has played in Hershey."

The place has had its moments in other areas, too: Wilt Chamberlain had his 100-point NBA game here.

AHL All-Star Game

Opponents: U.S. All-Stars vs. Canadian All-Stars

Site: Hersheypark Arena, Hershey, Pa.

Time 7:30 tonight


Bandits representative: RW Dwayne Norris

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