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The 2015–16 AHL season is the 80th season of the American Hockey League. The regular season began on October 9, 2015, and ended on April 17, 2016. The 2016 Calder Cup playoffs follow the conclusion of the regular season. An attendance record was set with a league average of 5,982 spectators per game, surpassing the record set in 2004–05.[1]

2015–16 AHL season
LeagueAmerican Hockey League
SportIce hockey
DurationOctober 9, 2015 – April 17, 2016
Total attendance6,693,526
Regular season
Macgregor Kilpatrick TrophyToronto Marlies
Season MVPChris Bourque
Top scorerChris Bourque
Playoffs
Eastern Conference championsHershey Bears
  Eastern Conference runners-upToronto Marlies
Western Conference championsLake Erie Monsters
  Western Conference runners-upOntario Reign
Playoffs MVPOliver Bjorkstrand
Calder Cup
ChampionsLake Erie Monsters
  Runners-upHershey Bears
AHL seasons

Regular seasonEdit

Team locations and divisional alignment in the 2014–15 season prior to the franchise relocations
Team locations and divisions after the 2015–16 relocation and realignment

On May 12, 2015, the AHL unveiled a new, major realignment of its conferences and divisions for the 2015–16 season, a move made as a result of the relocations of seven franchises, including five teams moving to California, one to Manitoba, and one to Newfoundland and Labrador.[2] Mirroring a change the National Hockey League had taken prior to its 2013–14 season, the AHL moved back to having four divisions of seven or eight teams. The Eastern Conference consists of the Atlantic and North Divisions, while the Western Conference consists of the Central and Pacific Divisions.

On June 13, the league commissioner, David Andrews, disclosed that the five California teams would each play 68-game schedule; the other 25 teams (including the two Texas-based teams that share the Pacific division with the California teams) would play 76 games apiece. The implementation of an unbalanced format was seen as a way to ease the California teams' travel costs as well as reducing stretches of 3 games in 3 nights, which can impede player development and hamper attractive forms of play.[3]

To alleviate the 68/76-game imbalance, the AHL began using an alternative method of ranking its teams and determining playoff seeds. As before, standings points are still awarded (two points for a win, one point for an overtime or shootout loss, none for a regulation loss) but rather than ranking teams by the total number of points earned, they are positioned by their points percentage, determined as the number of points earned divided by points available to them. For example, a team earning one win and one overtime loss after two games would have a .750 points percentage (3 points earned divided by 4 points available).[4]

In support of the new division, the AHL played an outdoor game called the Golden State Hockey Rush at Raley Field in West Sacramento, California on December 18, 2015. The Stockton Heat defeated the Bakersfield Condors 3–2 in front of 9,357 fans.[5]

Team and NHL affiliation changesEdit

RelocationsEdit

Under a plan approved by the league on January 29, 2015, the league established a Pacific Division, with five teams based in the state of California. All five teams are affiliated with NHL franchises based in western North America. In the season prior to the realignment, the league had no teams west of Texas (and only one western team, the Abbotsford Heat, had played in the AHL in the five seasons prior to that), causing call-up issues for western NHL teams. In return, the three ECHL franchises already based in the cities where the AHL franchises were relocated, went east and took the place of AHL teams that had left those cities.[6]

On March 12, 2015, the AHL announced that the True North Sports & Entertainment-owned franchise, the St. John's IceCaps, was relocating back to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to make it easier for their NHL team, the Winnipeg Jets, to call-up players. In order to fulfill their arena contact in St. John's, they negotiated with the Montreal Canadiens to move the Hamilton Bulldogs to St. John's and take on the IceCaps identity; in turn, the Bulldogs fulfilled their arena obligation by transferring their lease and intellectual property rights to the former Belleville Bulls, a junior hockey team.[7]

The franchise changes for the 2015–16 season are listed as follows:

Affiliation changesEdit

AHL team New affiliate Old affiliate
Lake Erie Monsters[14] Columbus Blue Jackets Colorado Avalanche
Portland Pirates[15] Florida Panthers Arizona Coyotes
San Antonio Rampage[14] Colorado Avalanche Florida Panthers
Springfield Falcons[14] Arizona Coyotes Columbus Blue Jackets

Rule changesEdit

OvertimeEdit

During the regular season, the sudden-death overtime period is reduced to five minutes (5:00) in length but full playing strength is 3-on-3 (plus goaltenders) for the entire period. Overtime will be preceded by a "dry scrape" of the entire ice surface. Teams will change ends at the start of overtime. If the game is still tied following overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.[4]

This change mimics the change made in the National Hockey League for the 2015–16 season. In the previous season, the AHL first experimented with 3-on-3 overtime but had three minutes of 4-on-4 play before reducing the number of players on the ice. This change caused 75 percent of games tied at the end of regulation to end in overtime in the 2014–15 season. This was reduced from just 35 percent in the 2013–14 season, decreasing the number of games decided by shootout.[16]

Video ReviewEdit

A team may use a "coach's challenge" to initiate an official video review; only those situations which are subject to review by rule may be challenged. A team may only request a coach's challenge if it has its timeout available, and the coach's challenge must be effectively initiated prior to the resumption of play. If the coach's challenge does not result in the original call on the ice being overturned, the team exercising such challenge will be charged with a timeout.[4] This change is identical to the rule change implemented by the NHL for its 2015–16 season.

Face-offsEdit

For face-offs conducted on any of the 8 face-off dots outside center ice, the defending team's player (i.e. the player closer to his team's goal) shall place his stick on the ice first, followed immediately by the attacking team's player. For face-offs at the center ice dot, the order of stick placement shall proceed as before, with the player from the visiting team placing his stick on the ice first, followed immediately by the home team's player.[4] This rule change mirrors one the NHL also implemented for 2015–16;[17] previously in both leagues, the visiting team's player placed his stick on the ice first regardless of the face-off location.

Playoff formatEdit

The 2016 playoff format changed as a result of the realignment and unbalanced regular season schedules. The new playoff format was finalized at the Annual Board of Governors meeting that took place July 6–9, 2015.[2] During the regular season, teams receive two points for a win and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. The top four teams in each division ranked by points percentage (points earned divided by points available) qualify for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, with one exception in each conference: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic or Central Division finishes with a better points percentage than the fourth-place team in the North or Pacific Division, it would cross over and compete in the other division's bracket.

The 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs will feature a divisional playoff format, leading to conference finals and ultimately the Calder Cup Finals. The division semifinals are best-of-five series; all subsequent rounds are best-of-seven.[4]

StandingsEdit

 y–  indicates team has clinched division and a playoff spot
 x–  indicates team has clinched a playoff spot
 e–  indicates team has been eliminated from playoff contention

Eastern ConferenceEdit

Updated as of April 17, 2016

Atlantic Division GP W L OTL SOL Pts Pts% GF GA
y–Hershey Bears (WSH) 76 43 21 5 7 98 .645 259 220
x–Providence Bruins (BOS) 76 41 22 9 4 95 .625 238 198
x–Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT) 76 43 27 4 2 92 .605 230 203
x–Portland Pirates (FLA) 76 41 27 6 2 90 .592 215 207
x–Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI) 76 40 29 4 3 87 .572 209 220
e–Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR) 76 41 32 3 0 85 .559 202 199
e–Lehigh Valley Phantoms (PHI) 76 34 35 4 3 75 .493 215 222
e–Springfield Falcons (ARI) 76 26 42 3 5 60 .395 194 265
North Division GP W L OTL SOL Pts Pts% GF GA
y–Toronto Marlies (TOR) 76 54 16 5 1 114 .750 294 191
x–Albany Devils (NJ) 76 46 20 8 2 102 .671 212 167
x–Utica Comets (VAN) 76 38 26 8 4 88 .579 224 217
e–Syracuse Crunch (TB) 76 32 29 11 4 79 .520 213 240
e–St. John's IceCaps (MTL) 76 32 33 8 3 75 .493 208 239
e–Rochester Americans (BUF) 76 34 38 3 1 72 .474 199 249
e–Binghamton Senators (OTT) 76 31 38 6 1 69 .454 204 241

Western ConferenceEdit

Updated as of April 17, 2016

Central Division GP W L OTL SOL Pts Pts% GF GA
y–Milwaukee Admirals (NSH) 76 48 23 3 2 101 .664 224 193
x–Lake Erie Monsters (CBJ) 76 43 22 6 5 97 .638 211 188
x–Rockford IceHogs (CHI) 76 40 22 10 4 94 .618 214 205
x–Grand Rapids Griffins (DET) 76 44 30 1 1 90 .592 238 195
e–Charlotte Checkers (CAR) 76 36 32 3 5 80 .526 214 229
e–Chicago Wolves (STL) 76 33 35 5 3 74 .487 194 228
e–Manitoba Moose (WPG) 76 26 41 4 5 61 .401 180 250
e–Iowa Wild (MIN) 76 24 41 5 6 59 .388 169 225
Pacific Division GP W L OTL SOL Pts Pts% GF GA
y–Ontario Reign (LA) 68 44 19 4 1 93 .684 192 138
x–San Diego Gulls (ANA) 68 39 23 4 2 84 .618 208 200
x–Texas Stars (DAL) 76 40 25 8 3 91 .599 277 246
x–San Jose Barracuda (SJ) 68 31 26 8 3 73 .537 198 193
e–Bakersfield Condors (EDM) 68 31 28 7 2 71 .522 212 222
e–Stockton Heat (CGY) 68 32 32 2 2 68 .500 194 224
e–San Antonio Rampage (COL) 76 33 35 8 0 74 .487 213 240

Statistical leadersEdit

Leading skatersEdit

The following players are sorted by points, then goals. Updated as of April 17, 2016.[18]

GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; +/– = Plus-minus; PIM = Penalty minutes

Player Team GP G A Pts PIM
Chris Bourque Hershey Bears 72 30 50 80 56
Seth Griffith Providence Bruins 57 24 53 77 32
T. J. Brennan Toronto Marlies 69 25 43 68 53
Alexander Khokhlachev Providence Bruins 60 23 45 68 12
Dustin Jeffrey Springfield/W-B/Scranton 64 20 44 64 20
Andy Miele Grand Rapids Griffins 75 18 44 62 77
Austin Czarnik Providence Bruins 68 20 41 61 24
Bud Holloway St. John's IceCaps 70 19 42 61 14
Mikko Rantanen San Antonio Rampage 52 24 36 60 42
Mark Arcobello Toronto Marlies 49 25 34 59 22

Leading goaltendersEdit

The following goaltenders with a minimum 1500 minutes played lead the league in goals against average. Updated as of April 16, 2016.[19]

GP = Games played; TOI = Time on ice (in minutes); SA = Shots against; GA = Goals against; SO = Shutouts; GAA = Goals against average; SV% = Save percentage; W = Wins; L = Losses; OT = Overtime/shootout loss

Player Team GP TOI SA GA SO GAA SV% W L OT
Peter Budaj Ontario Reign 60 3574:33 1535 104 9 1.75 .932 42 14 4
Matt Murray Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 31 1827:16 932 64 4 2.10 .931 20 9 1
Yann Danis Albany Devils 47 2681:16 1081 99 8 2.22 .908 28 12 5
Juuse Saros Milwaukee Admirals 38 2247:53 1052 84 4 2.24 .920 29 8 0
Dan Ellis Hershey Bears 43 2440:28 1051 97 4 2.38 .908 25 12 5

Calder Cup playoffsEdit

Division semifinals Division finals Conference finals Calder Cup final
            
A1 Hershey 3
A4 Portland 2
A1 Hershey 4
A3 W-B/Scranton 3
A2 Providence 0
A3 W-B/Scranton 3
A1 Hershey 4
Eastern Conference
N1 Toronto 1
N1 Toronto 3
A5 Bridgeport 0
N1 Toronto 4
N2 Albany 3
N2 Albany 3
N3 Utica 1
A1 Hershey 0
C2 Lake Erie 4
C1 Milwaukee 0
C4 Grand Rapids 3
C4 Grand Rapids 2
C2 Lake Erie 4
C2 Lake Erie 3
C3 Rockford 0
C2 Lake Erie 4
Western Conference
P1 Ontario 0
P1 Ontario 3
P4 San Jose 1
P1 Ontario 4
P2 San Diego 1
P2 San Diego 3
P3 Texas 1

AHL awardsEdit

Calder Cup : Lake Erie Monsters
Les Cunningham Award : Chris Bourque, Hershey
John B. Sollenberger Trophy : Chris Bourque, Hershey
Willie Marshall Award : Frank Vatrano, Providence
Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award : Mikko Rantanen, San Antonio & Frank Vatrano, Providence
Eddie Shore Award : T. J. Brennan, Toronto
Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Award : Peter Budaj, Ontario
Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award : Peter Budaj, Ontario
Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award : Rick Kowalsky, Albany
Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award : Tom Kostopoulos, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton[20]
Yanick Dupre Memorial Award : Ryan Carpenter, San Jose
Jack A. Butterfield Trophy : Oliver Bjorkstrand, Lake Erie
Richard F. Canning Trophy : Hershey Bears
Robert W. Clarke Trophy : Lake Erie Monsters
Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy: Toronto Marlies
Frank Mathers Trophy (Eastern Conference regular season champions): Toronto Marlies[21]
Norman R. "Bud" Poile Trophy (Western Conference regular season champions): Ontario Reign[22]
Emile Francis Trophy (Atlantic Division regular season champions): Hershey Bears[23]
F. G. "Teddy" Oke Trophy (North Division regular season champions): Toronto Marlies[24]
Sam Pollock Trophy (Central Division regular season champions): Milwaukee Admirals[25]
John D. Chick Trophy (Pacific Division regular season champions): Ontario Reign[26]
James C. Hendy Memorial Award: Tera Black, Charlotte
Thomas Ebright Memorial Award: Jim Schoenfeld, Hartford
James H. Ellery Memorial Awards: Patrick Williams, Manitoba
Ken McKenzie Award: Mike Peck, Rockford
Michael Condon Memorial Award: Joe Ross
President's Awards: Organization - Lake Erie; Player - Michael Leighton, Rockford

All-Star TeamsEdit

First All-Star Team[27]

Second All-Star Team[27]

All-Rookie Team[28]

MilestonesEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "AHL teams establish all-time attendance record". AHL. April 18, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "AHL announces alignment for 2015-16". AHL. May 12, 2015.
  3. ^ "California AHL teams to play 68 games; more from President/CEO". LA Kings Insider. June 13, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Board of Governors approves changes for 15-16". AHL. July 10, 2015.
  5. ^ "Grant, Kylington and Shore Lead Heat to 3-2 Win at Raley Field". Stockton Heat. December 19, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  6. ^ "AHL approves formation of Pacific Division". AHL. January 29, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "AHL announces franchise transactions". AHL. March 12, 2015.
  8. ^ "Adirondack Flames to announce move to the ECHL". Glens Falls Post-Star. January 29, 2015.
  9. ^ "The Montreal Canadiens announce the transfer of the Hamilton Bulldogs to St.John's, Newfoundland". Montreal Canadiens. March 12, 2015.
  10. ^ "AHL announces relocation, Norfolk Admirals move". WAVY-TV. January 29, 2015.
  11. ^ "AHL's Oklahoma City Barons to cease operations at end of season". NBC Sports. December 18, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  12. ^ "Moose 2.0? True North will move AHL franchise back to Winnipeg". Winnipeg Free Press. March 12, 2015.
  13. ^ "Sharks, Barracuda Networks Agree to Revolutionary Multi-Year Presenting Partnership". San Jose Barracuda. April 2, 2015.
  14. ^ a b c "Falcons, Monsters, Rampage swap NHL affiliates". AHL. April 17, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-04-17. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
  15. ^ "Pirates announce affiliation with Florida". AHL. March 18, 2015.
  16. ^ "AHL rule changes: NHL OT format, points percentage for playoffs, coach's challenge". Yahoo Sports. July 10, 2015.
  17. ^ NHL Board of Governors approve 2015-16 rule changes," from NHL.com, 6/24/2015
  18. ^ "Top Scorers - 2015-16 Regular Season - All Players". AHL.
  19. ^ "Top Goalies - 2015-16 Regular Season - Goals Against Average". AHL.
  20. ^ "Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Tom Kostopoulos Voted Winner of AHL's Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award". OurSports Central. April 8, 2016.
  21. ^ "FRANK S. MATHERS TROPHY". AHL. Archived from the original on 2016-05-09. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  22. ^ "NORMAN R. (BUD) POILE TROPHY". AHL. Archived from the original on 2016-04-14. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  23. ^ "EMILE FRANCIS TROPHY". AHL. Archived from the original on 2016-04-14. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  24. ^ "F.G. (TEDDY) OKE TROPHY". AHL. Archived from the original on 2016-04-14. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  25. ^ "SAM POLLOCK TROPHY". AHL. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  26. ^ "JOHN D. CHICK TROPHY". AHL. Archived from the original on 2016-04-14. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  27. ^ a b "2015-16 American Hockey League First and Second All-Star Teams Named". OurSports Central. April 7, 2016.
  28. ^ "2015-16 American Hockey League All-Rookie Team Named". OurSports Central. April 6, 2016.

External linksEdit