January 10, 2013
TORONTO-The American Hockey League announced its roster for the 2014 All-Star game on Thursday and defenceman T.J.Brennan of the Toronto Marlies made the list.
The 24-year-old has 14 goals and 32 points in 33 games this season, which leads all AHL blue liners, and is the only player from Toronto’s roster to be named.
“It’s a great feeling, huge honor to represent the Marlies and the AHL,” Brennan told LeafsTV. “It’s nice to get some recognition.”
Brennan had a tremendous start to the season with seven goals and 10 points in his first three games, earning AHL player-of-the-week honors for his effort. He has eight multi-point games and 17 points on the power play to lead Toronto in both categories.
The Willingboro, N.J. native was informed of his selection while traveling with his teammates to St. John’s, which is where the Marlies will start off a seven-game road trip on Friday against the IceCaps.
“Made the flight a little better,” Said Brennan.
Unlike past years when the AHL has used an Eastern versus Western Conference format, this season’s game will consist of 20 skaters and two goaltenders selected by the AHL to play against Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League.
The game will take place in St. John’s at the Mile One Centre on Feb 12.
Brennan has produced 28 goals and 67 points in his last 69 AHL games dating back to last season with the Rochester Americans.
The Marlies, at times, have had difficulty scoring goals this season, but the same cannot be said about keeping them out of their own net.
Toronto has given up just 83 goals in 33 games this season, third best in the AHL, and majority of the success comes from the play of goaltender Drew MacIntyre.
In their past 10 games, however, the Marlies have backed their netminder with the addition of a solid penalty kill.
The Marlies have killed off 43-of-47 penalties in their last 10 outings and have slowly climbed up to 10th in the AHL on the penalty kill at 84.7 per cent.
While Spott has credited MacIntyre on more than one occasion for bailing his club out when down a man, the coach gives heavy praise to forward Kenny Ryan, who came back from an injury looking to fill any role available.
“It’s amazing to see our penalty kill, since he’s been back in the lineup we’re at 92 per cent,” said Spott. “He wins some face-offs and isn’t afraid to block shots.”
Ryan missed the first 13 games of the season recovering from off-season surgery, and then missed another eight games with a lower-body injury.
Since he’s regained his health, though, the 22-year-old has been an option for Spott down the middle, as the club carried only three centres for a period of time, and on the wing. By being reliable on the penalty kill, Ryan gives Spott six forwards to go to at any time when playing 5-on-4.
“It’s something I’ve done for teams in the past,” said Ryan about the penalty kill. “The last couple years here we had some older guys and I haven’t had much opportunity. This year I’m getting the chance and I know if I want to get to where I want to be I have to be good at it.
“Penalty killing is just sacrificing yourself and outworking the other team.”