ONTARIO, Calif. – It was a night to remember at the 2010 ECHL All-Star Game presented by Reebok Hockey and brought to you by Toyota and the City of Ontario as a shootout became the deciding factor for the first time in ECHL history as the American Conference defeated the National Conference, 10-9 in front of 7,615 at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The scoring went back and forth in the first period as the two conferences traded goals against starting goaltenders David Shantz of Victoria and Todd Ford of South Carolina.
Ford stole a breakaway goal from Greg Hogeboom of Ontario, but defenseman Sam Roberts of Gwinnett scored first for the American Conference on a pass from starting forward Jacob Micflikier of Florida.
Judd Blackwater of Stockton answered for the National Conference, but Matt Schepke from the Charlotte Checkers scored to take back the lead before Nick Mazzolini of Alaska tied the game at two. Johnstown’s Connor Shields would give the American Conference a 3-2 lead going into the first intermission with a goal assisted by Maxime Gratchev of Elmira and Matt Pierce of Cincinnati.
Shantz kept the National Conference from having a larger deficit going into the break with a save on Schepke.
The second period of play started off with a bang for the National Conference with three goals in the first five minutes.
Ontario crowd favorite Peter Lenes tied the game less than two minutes in after a pass from Chris D'Alvise of Stockton was lost by Shawn Weller of Bakersfield. Lenes came in from behind and slapped the puck into the net. His teammates Vic Bartley of Utah and team captain David Walker from the Ontario Reign gave the National Conference a two-goal lead, scoring just over a minute apart.
The American Conference tried to erase the deficit, but goaltender Timo Pielmeier of Bakersfield made a glove save on a shot by Jeff Prough of Trenton and Barlow made the game 6-3 with a pass around the legs of a sliding A.J. Thelen of Florida.
The home team had another chance to score when goaltender Braden Holtby of South Carolina came out of the crease to stop the puck, but when it went behind him and Holtby was out of range, a shot slid just in front of the goal line and went through the crease untouched until Holtby’s teammates took control of the puck and hurried down to the other end where Schepke scored his second goal of the game after Maxime Tanguay of Toledo passed the puck in front of Pielmeier, who was down on the ice after going side-to-side.
Drew Paris of Gwinnett used his 6-foot-4 frame to block a shot in the crease after Holtby couldn’t get up in time to reach the other side, but Pielmeier made the save of the night when Justin Donati of Elmira took a shot and Pielmeier made a backhand glove save as he was skating into the net, leaving Donati smiling in disbelief.
Rick Cleaver of Kalamazoo brought the American Conference to within one goal at 18:14 of the second period, but Miller answered with 7.6 seconds left on a pass from Bartley to make the score 7-5. The National Conference’s five goals tied the All-Star game record for most goals by one team in one period and the combined seven goals tied for the third most goals by both teams in one period.
Paris pulled the American Conference within one goal and Brandon Buck of Florida tied the game, 7-7. Barlow tallied his second goal of the game 15 seconds later, making it the third-fastest time in history that two teams have scored goals.
Idaho goaltender Richard Bachman made a save on a one timer by South Carolina defenseman Zach Tarkir, but Jeff Prough of Trenton scored his first goal of the game to make it 8-8.
Miller tallied his second goal of the game for the National Conference, but Shields took the game into overtime with his goal at 17:24. The 18 goals tied the ECHL All-Star game record for most goals by both teams in one game. Walker tried to secure the game for the National Conference with less than 30 seconds remaining, but his shot bounced off the post and for the first time in ECHL history, the All-Star game headed into overtime.
Bachman and Cincinnati’s Jeremy Smith remained in goal for overtime. Smith stopped the only shot, which sent the game into the first-ever shootout in an ECHL All-Star game.
In the shootout, Smith faced Blackwater, Bartley, Ryan Kinasewich of Utah and Barlow and went 3-for-4, while Bachman allowed goals to Micflikier, Ganzak and Donati, who tallied the decisive goal to give the American Conference the 10-9 win.
The two teams combined for 19 goals to set the record for most goals in an All-Star game. It is the second straight time the team who lost the ECHL All-Star Skills Competition the night before came back to win the ECHL All-Star Game. In 2009, the National Conference won the skills competition 9-7 while the American Conference went on to win the All-Star game 11-5. In the 11 years prior to 2009, the team that won the skills competition also won the game.
Evan Barlow of Idaho was named the 2010 ECHL All-Star MVP after scoring four points (2g-2a).