Justin Schultz has some company atop the AHL scoring race.
Jordan Eberle, Schultz's teammate with the Oklahoma City Barons, has been on a tear. After he started the season strongly enough with two goals and six points in seven games in the month of October, the Regina native has scored 17 goals and 32 points in his last 19 games to tie Schultz for the league's scoring lead at 38 points.
Eberle's increase in production coincides with Taylor Hall's arrival in Oklahoma after he was deemed fit enough play following shoulder surgery last March. Hall has scored eight goals and 23 points in 18 games with the Barons.
Being caught is no slight for the 22-year-old Schultz. The Oklahoma City rookie has been consistently good through the first nine weeks of the 2012-13 AHL season. His 14 goals and 38 points in 26 games has him on pace to beat John Slaney's record for goals by a rookie defenceman at 20 and Slaney's record for a defenceman, rookie or otherwise, at 30.
With 50 games remaining, the 22-year-old Schultz also has an outside shot at Chris Snell's single-season record for a defencemen of 96 points set in 1993-94.
The 22-year-old Eberle, meanwhile, has played in 46 career AHL games and has scored 28 times and registered a remarkable 61 points.
King's protégé back with success
On the heels of Dave King being honoured with the Hockey Order in Canada last week, we noticed the success one of his protégés, Willie Desjardins, has enjoyed in his return as a head coach this season.
After two years as an associate coach with the Dallas Stars, the 55-year-old Desjardins was appointed head coach of the Texas Stars in the summer. He has Dallas' AHL affiliate off to a sound 13-8-4 start.
Desjardins played for King at the University of Saskatchewan in the early 1980s and was a big part of the school's 1982-83 national championship season. He has since gone on to coach more than a 1,000 regular-season and playoff games in Japan, Germany and North America.
From Saskatchewan, Desjardins spent time at the University of Calgary as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach and winning the Canada West conference championship in 1989-90 -- his first of five seasons running the Dinosaurs.
He won the 1994-95 league championship in Japan and then coached Kaufbeurn in Germany before returning to Canada to become an assistant coach with the Canadian national team.
Desjardins then took over the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL as a mid-season replacement in December 1997 and returned to Japan the following season. He then went back to junior to take over the Medicine Hat Tigers for eight seasons, guiding that WHL team to two championships and eight consecutive playoff appearances.
He also won a gold medal as an assistant coach of the 2009 Canadian junior team and silver the following year as the team's head coach before moving to Dallas.
Tardif has been terrific
Since he graduated from the Peterborough Petes and turned pro in 2006, Jamie Tardif of Welland, Ont., never has hopped over the boards for a shift in the NHL. But if he can build off the last two weeks, maybe the Boston Bruins will give him a shot if this 93-day lockout ends before time runs out on the possibility of a season.
In his last nine games for the Providence Bruins, the 27-year-old Tardif has checked in with nine goals and 11 points and has been held pointless in only two games.
Calgary originally drafted Tardif in the fourth round (112th overall) of the 2003 NHL entry draft, but the Flames never signed him. He re-entered the draft, but was not selected in 2005.
After he scored 10 goals and 30 points in 34 games with the Toledo Storm of the ECHL, Tardif had brief AHL tryouts with the Iowa Stars and Manitoba Moose in the same 2006-07 season before he was signed by the Grand Rapids Griffins in the summer of 2007 and played for the Detroit Red Wings farm club for five years.
On Saturday, Tardif played in his 400th AHL game and celebrated the career milestone by setting up a goal and scoring in the shootout in the Bruins' 2-1 road win over the Albany Devils.
Canadian junior grads
A year ago, they were preparing to play for Canada at the 2012 world under-20 championship in Edmonton and Calgary. Now they are pros. Here's how the 14 players from the 2012 Canadian junior team have fared in the AHL so far this season:
-Brett Connolly, RW, Syracuse (Tampa Bay)
12 goals, 23 points in 25 games
-Jaden Schwartz, RW, Peoria (St. Louis)
9 goals, 15 points in 25 games
-Brendan Gallagher, RW, Hamilton (Montreal)
7 goals, 15 points in 24 games
-Tanner Pearson, LW, Peoria (Los Angeles)
6 goals, 15 points in 26 games
-Devante Smith-Pelly, RW, Norfolk (Anaheim)
4 goals, 12 points in 24 games
-Quinton Howden, LW, San Antonio (Florida)
6 goals, 11 points in 27 games
-Michael Bournvial, C, Hamilton (Montreal)
2 goals, 10 points in 22 games
-Mark Pysyk, D, Rochester (Buffalo)
2 goals, 10 points in 23 games
-Jamie Oleksiak, D, Texas (Dallas)
1 goal, 10 points in 25 games
-Freddie Hamilton, C, Worcester (San Jose)
3 goals, 9 points in 26 games
-Nathan Beaulieu, D, Hamilton (Montreal)
1 goal, 9 points in 23 games
-Mark Stone, LW, Binghamton (Ottawa)
3 goals, 8 points in 16 games
-Brandon Gormley, D, Portland (Phoenix)
2 goals, 7 points in 23 games
-Mark Visentin, G, Portland (Phoenix)
4-6-1, 3.09 GAA, .904 SP
Jam packed on the rock
Last Wednesday, the St. John's IceCaps tied the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins for the second longest regular-season sellout streak in AHL history with their 54th capacity crowd in a row at Mile One Centre.
St. John's has sold out every single regular-season game since they returned to the AHL on Oct. 14, 2011.
The IceCaps will move past the Penguins when they return from a three-week, eight-game road trip to play host to the Manchester Monarchs on Jan. 4. The next target for St. John's is 90, the AHL record set by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton between March 2002 and October 2004.
It's too bad the IceCaps haven't used their support at home more to their advantage. They have gone an ordinary 29-28-4 in combined regular-season and playoff games at Mile One Centre, but an impressive 34-19-5 on the road.
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