Wideman, Stolarz Lead Pacific to All-Star SuccessJan 27, 2020
Gulls goaltender Anthony Stolarz, defenseman Chris Wideman and the Pacific Division posted a 2-1 record in the AHL's annual All-Star Challenge at Toyota Arena in Ontario, CA.
The Pacific finished in a three-way tie for the best record, but fell to third based on the goal differential tiebreaker. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek (Hershey Bears) was awarded the MVP of the night as he helped guide the Atlantic Division to a championship.
The four-team, round-robin tournament featured each Division team facing off against one another in six separate 10-minute games, followed by a six-minute championship contest between the Central and Atlantic Divisions. Each contest was strictly 3-on-3 action that had a total of 51 goals throughout the night.
Wideman scored two goals and added a shootout-winning goal, while Stolarz made 10 saves in 14:56 of regulation and stopped all five chances over two shootouts. The Pacific Division outscored opponents 13-12 over the course of their three games.
They kicked things off when they played the North Division in the opening contest of the night. Each team tallied two goals before Wideman broke the tie and pulled the Pacific ahead in the opening frame. Forward Martin Frk (Ontario Reign) threaded a pass to Wideman who tapped it in backdoor for his first of the night.
Stolarz hopped in net for the second of the two five-minute frames. The game required extra time after a 5-5 tie following 10 minutes of regulation. The crowd chanted for their hometown goaltender Cal Petersen (Ontario Reign) in the ensuing shootout, but Stolarz got the nod and didn’t disappoint.
Forward T.J. Tynan (Colorado Eagles) scored the first shootout goal and Stolarz denied Alex Formenton (Belleville Senators) with a glove save on his backhand chance.
Wideman put the Pacific ahead by two goals with a five-hole goal on netminder Jonas Johansson (Rochester Americans). Stolarz ended the game with a save on forward Alex Barre-Boulet (Syracuse Crunch). The hostile crowd turned friendly, chanting “Stolie” for the Gulls netminder after his two-save performance in the shootout.
The Central Division skated in the next two games, defeating the Atlantic 3-1 and the North 6-5.
The Gulls representatives got their second game in against the Atlantic in the fourth contest of the night. Wideman opened the scoring 35 seconds into the contest when he beat Alex Nedeljkovic (Charlotte Checkers) five-hole on an odd-man rush. Meanwhile, Stolarz had an incredible performance, stopping multiple breakaways and flashing the glove on some highlight-reel stops. Through the first period of the game, Stolarz denied 7-of-8 chances. However, the Atlantic potted two in the second period against Petersen to win 3-2.
The Atlantic Division beat the North 5-2 in the fifth contest of the night in a brief break before the Pacific’s third and final game.
In a back-and-forth matchup against the Central Division, the Pacific allowed two separate two-goal comebacks and the game was forced to another shootout. Regulation featured the rare goalie goal attempt, with Stolarz firing a shot on an empty net when the Central pulled their goaltender. His attempt fell short.
Despite chants for Petersen to take over in the shootout, Stolarz got the nod for the sudden death showdown. He stopped Matthew Ford (Grand Rapids Griffins), Sam Anas (Iowa Wild) and Chris Terry (Grand Rapids Griffins).
The Pacific won the contest to improve to 2-1, but a three way tie for the championship game fell in favor of the Central and Atlantic.
Stolarz and Wideman will now enjoy a few days away before returning to Pechanga Arena on Friday night against the San Jose Barracuda.