WICHITA, Kan. – The return of a familiar name in the AHL, courageous kids and raging bulls highlight this pre-Turkey day Tuesday Takeaways article.

Let’s get started!

This week in the American Hockey League was about one position – the goaltender. We saw a netminder score a goal of his own, one get two shutouts, the purported back up of a team record 80% of its wins, and the return of one of the AHL’s biggest names.

He’s BAAAACCKK…

One of, if not the most well-known players in American Hockey League history appears to have found a temporary home with the Ontario Reign. Due to the number of injuries in the crease for its parent club, the Ontario Reign signed goaltender Michael Leighton to a professional try out (PTO). The five-time AHL All-Star has played 338 games in double-digit cities. He also owns the league’s career shutout record, earning his 50th on December 9, 2017 as a member of the Chicago Wolves.

Though he has yet to play in Ontario, one thing is for sure. The American Hockey League is better off with the future AHL Hall of Famer on a roster. Though he’s now 37, the man can have his moments – he did record his most recent shutout just shy of a year ago – and has a body of work which makes him worthy of having on a roster as a mentor alone.

Here’s hoping we get to see Leighton in net again, soon.

AHL Three Stars of the Week

★ – Kaapo Kahkonen – Iowa Wild – Two Wins, Two Shutouts, 58 Total Saves. With the two wins, the Wild are in sole possession of first place in the Central Division.
★★ – Jordan Binnington – San Antonio Rampage – Two Wins, One Shutout, 30 Total Saves. Binnington was in net for four of San Antonio’s five wins this season.
★★★ – Tristan Jarry – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – One Win, One Loss, 56 Total Saves. He also scored an empty-net goal in the win on November 14th.

Gladiators Help Kid Live His Dream

You may have seen this on social media over the weekend, but in case you didn’t, the Atlanta Gladiators helped 10-year-old Ethan McClean live out his dream of watching an NHL game.

McClean, diagnosed with a terminal disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy, kicked off his journey with the Gladiators by attending the morning skate, announcing the starting lineup in the Gladiators locker room, dropping the first puck, and watching the Gladiators and Norfolk Admirals square off.

From there, Ethan and his family went to Nashville to watch a Predators game. Read more about the journey, courtesy of ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski.

Huge stick taps to Chris Treft and the Gladiators staff, who helped a kid live out his life-long dream. A tear-jerker for sure.

ECHL Three Stars of the Week:

★ – Joe Cox – F – Florida Everblades – The third-year Everblades forward went off this weekend, scoring three goals and piling up five assists in a four-game week for the ‘Blades. For the season, Cox has 18 points (9G, 9A) in 14 games.
★★ – Troy Josephs – F – Wheeling Nailers – Scored six goals and added one assist for seven points in four games last week. The 24-year-old had a goal in a 2-1 loss to Toledo on Tuesday, notched his second professional hat trick in a 4-1 win at Jacksonville on Friday, and after being held off the scoresheet in a 4-1 victory at South Carolina on Saturday, posted three points (2g-1a) in a 5-4 overtime win at Greenville on Sunday.
★★★ – Jonas Johansson – G – Cincinnati Cyclones – Went 2-0-0 with one shutout, a 0.50 goals-against average and a save percentage of .981 in two appearances last week.

Raisin’ Havoc Against Cancer

We got some wonderful news from the Huntsville Havoc on Monday. Havoc captain Jacob Brown. The courageous 13-year-old, spending his third season as the Havoc captain, is officially off of chemotherapy, a big win in his battle with leukemia.

Congratulations, Jacob! You battled so hard and may you live a long, happy life!

Bull Rush

Further down I-65, the Birmingham Bulls made history this past weekend. In the Bulls’ inaugural season the team started with a 0-7-0 record. Friday night in Huntsville, the Bulls won their eighth straight game to open the season, breaking a record held by the 2010-11 Havoc and the 2017-18 Pensacola Ice Flyers. The following night, the Bulls backed up the win by throttling the Havoc, 6-2, and advanced their record to 9-0-0. Birmingham hosts the Evansville Thunderbolts on Wednesday night in their quest to win ten straight.

Our congratulations go out to coach Jamey Hicks, owner Art Clarkson, and the Bulls for an amazing start to their second SPHL season.

SPHL Three Stars of the Week

★ – Josh Harris – Birmingham Bulls – Harris went wild this past week with five points, scoring two goals and three assists.
★★ – Austin Vieth – Peoria Rivermen – The rookie winger for the Rivs lit up Evansville for three goals and a +5 rating last weekend.
★★★ – Eliot Grauer – Knoxville Ice Bears –  Grauer scored goals in both games this weekend in games against the Fayetteville Marksmen and the Macon Mayhem. Grauer finished the weekend with two goals and an assist.

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