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04/06/2006 11:15 AM - MacLean Named to First All-Star Team, Helmer and Hudler to Second Team

– The American Hockey League on Thursday announced that three Grand Rapids Griffins players have been named to the league’s All-Star Teams. Left wing Donald MacLean was chosen for the First All-Star Team, while defenseman Bryan Helmer and left wing Jiri Hudler were selected for the Second All-Star Team, as determined through a vote of players and media in each of the AHL's 27 cities.

A top candidate for the league’s most valuable player award, MacLean earned his first all-star nod by beating out a deep, talented pool of left wings. He ranks among the AHL’s leaders and has set franchise records with 53 goals (1st), 21 power play goals (2nd), four hat tricks (1st), an eight-game goal streak (2nd), a 19-game point streak (1st) and 256 shots (7th). His 84 points (T6th), plus-16 rating (T25th), eight game-winning goals (2nd) and two overtime goals (T1st) also place among the league’s best, while his averages of 0.72 goals per game this season and 0.58 goals per game for his Griffins career are the highest in the franchise’s 10 seasons of play.

MacLean, 29, became the first AHL player in five seasons to hit the 50-goal plateau on March 12 at Chicago, while his 53rd goal on March 23 at Cleveland broke the Grand Rapids pro hockey record set by George Parker of the 1950-51 IHL Rockets. His 53 goals tie for 17th in AHL history and put him in position to become the first Griffin to ever lead his league.

The 33-year-old Helmer earns his first postseason honor since being named to the AHL’s First All-Star Team in 1997-98 as a member of the Albany River Rats. The lone veteran presence on the Griffins’ blueline for most of the season, his offensive production has been surpassed only by his dependability and durability.

Helmer stands among the AHL’s leaders with 42 assists (T21st overall, T6th among defenseman), 53 points (T5th defensemen), a plus-23 rating (T4th overall, 1st defensemen) and two overtime goals (T1st overall). His 42 assists are a record for a Grand Rapids blueliner, while his 53 points tie the standard established last season by current Detroit Red Wing Niklas Kronwall.

Perhaps most impressively, Helmer is one of only two Griffins to appear in every game this season, and he has played in all 156 games thus far over his two seasons with Grand Rapids, moving within five of Dave Van Drunen’s franchise record of 161 consecutive games played.

Hudler, just 22, has blossomed into a top NHL prospect in his third season as a Griffin. His 93 points – second-most in franchise history, behind Michel Picard’s 101 from 1996-97 – place second in the AHL, giving him a chance to become the 96th player in league history to reach the century mark.

In addition, Hudler ranks among the league’s best with 36 goals (T5th), a team-record 57 assists (3rd), seven game-winning goals (T3rd) and two overtime goals (T1st). His prolific campaign, during which he has surpassed the goal, assist and point totals of his previous two seasons combined, has rocketed him into the Griffins’ career leaders with 65 goals (3rd), 111 assists (4th), 176 points (4th), 19 power play goals (6th), 13 game-winning goals (T2nd) and four overtime goals (1st).

Highlights of Hudler’s season have also included a season-opening 14-game point streak, the third-longest in team history, and his second appearance in the AHL All-Star Classic.

This marks the second time in their five AHL seasons and the third time in franchise history that the Griffins have had three players named to league all-star teams. In 2002-03, AHL honors were garnered by Marc Lamothe (1st), Mark Mowers (2nd) and Picard (2nd), while the 2000-01 IHL All-Star Teams featured Derek King (1st), Mike Fountain (2nd) and Travis Richards (2nd).

Joining MacLean on the First All-Star Team are Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Dany Sabourin, Syracuse defenseman Andy Delmore, and a trio of Houston Aeros: defenseman Curtis Murphy, center Erik Westrum and right wing Kirby Law.

In addition to Helmer and Hudler, the Second All-Star Team consists of Manitoba goaltender Wade Flaherty, Hartford defenseman Thomas Pock, Lowell center Keith Aucoin and Portland right wing Dustin Penner.

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