clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2023 AHL All-Star Challenge Recap: Pacific Division reigns

WBS’s Alex Nylander scored two shootout winners, as well as a goal and assist, to power the Atlantic Division to the All-Star Challenge championship game.

Alex Nylander of the WBS Penguins prepares his stick for the All-Star Challenge.

The American Hockey League does its 3 on 3 All-Star Challenge a little bit differently than the NHL. Each division’s All-Star team plays each other All-Star team in a round-robin series of 10-minute games, two halves of 5 minutes each. The two best teams after the round-robin games are completed play a final 6 minute 3 on 3 game to determine a winner.

Game 1: Pacific Division 2 @ North Division 2 (SO)

The Challenge began with the de facto home team, the North Division, taking on the Pacific. Belleville’s Egor Sokolov opened the scoring at 4:26 of the first half. Coachella Valley’s Max McCormick tied the game at 3:54 of the second half, starting a three-goal outburst by both teams that led to a 2-2 tie after regulation. Laval’s Anthony Richard scored at 4:05 to give the North a 2-1 lead, but Ontario’s T.J. Tynan tied it with just 20 seconds to play to send the game to a three-player shootout. Neither team managed a goal in the shootout, so the game was ended as a tie.

Game 2: Central Division 3 @ Atlantic Division 4 (SO)

The Atlantic Division started strong in their first appearance of the night, getting goals at 11 seconds and 3:47 of the first half by Charlotte’s Riley Nash and Hershey’s Ethen Frank. The Central Division responded in the second half through two goals by former WBS Penguin Riley Barber of the Texas Stars, including an equalizing goal at 2:51 of the second half. Once again, the teams went to a shootout, and only one of the five shooters was able to score.

Alex Nylander’s shootout winner gave the Atlantic a 4-3 victory and the lead in the standings after the first round of games.

Game 3: Pacific Division 6 @ Atlantic Division 2

The lead did not last, as the Pacific Division exploded in Game 3 of the night. Fueled by two goals from Bakersfield’s Seth Griffith and the second of the night from T.J. Tynan, the Pacific put three goals each behind Springfield’s Joel Hofer and Providence’s Brandon Bussi. For the Atlantic’s part, Alex Nylander recorded the lone assist on this goal by Lehigh Valley’s Ronnie Attard.

Game 4: Central Division 2 @ North Division 2 (SO)

The Central and North Divisions traded goals in the first half of Game 4. Toronto’s Logan Shaw scored unassisted 53 seconds in, which was matched by Milwaukee’s Luke Evangelista at 2:12. Syracuse’s Darren Raddysh restored the lead for the North at 3:09 of the first, which was equaled right at the horn through Riley Barber’s third goal of the night. No one scored in the second half, and no one scored in the shootout, leading to the North’s second tie of the night.

Game 5: Pacific Division 5 @ Central Division 2

The Pacific Division continued its hot streak into its third game of the night. Two more goals from Seth Griffith, a third from T.J. Tynan, and two tallies from Henderson’s Brayden Pachal powered the Pacific to its second straight victory and a spot in the championship finale.

Game 6: Atlantic Division 4 @ North Division 3 (SO)

The final regulation game of the night was a winner-advances contest between the Atlantic and the North Divisions. The Atlantic got a pair from Lehigh Valley’s Tyson Foerster, but the home favorite Anthony Richard and Syracuse’s Darren Raddysh scored 46 seconds apart to tie the first half at 2. With 1:16 left to play, it was none other than Alex Nylander planted in front of the goal who was able to put the Atlantic ahead 3-2.

Belleville’s Egor Sokolov scored, though, with 15.4 seconds to play to send the game to a shootout, the fourth one of the night.

Alex Barre-Boulet and Ethen Frank traded shootout goals in round 2, and with both teams still tied after round 3 and still tied in the standings, the shootout was extended to sudden victory to decide a winner. It took an entire cycle of the lineup, 10 rounds, and a reset to the top of the lineup in round 11 to break the tie. Once again, Nylander came through to put the Atlantic Division through to the championship game.

Championship Game: Pacific 1 @ Atlantic 0

Seth Griffith put Pacific ahead just 18 seconds into the 6-minute finale with his 5th goal of the night. Despite outshooting the Pacific 7-3, the Atlantic could not quite get the equalizer as the Pacific Division won the All-Star Challenge for the first time since this current format was implemented.

Most Valuable Player honors were shared by the Pacific’s two goaltenders, Calgary’s Dustin Wolf and San Diego’s Lukas Dostal.