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For many professional hockey players, it's AHL today and NHL tomorrow.
The American Hockey League (AHL) is comprised of 30 professional ice hockey teams based in the United States and Canada. The National Hockey League uses the AHL as its primary development circuit. Every team in the league has had an affiliation agreement with an NHL team since at least the 2010-2012 season. Four AHL teams are located in Canada, while the remaining 26 call the United States home. The winner of the annual playoff championship is awarded the Calder Cup. This award was named for the first President of the NHL, Frank Calder. In 2012 the Norfolk Admirals won the the Calder Cup.
Each year the AHL holds and the AHL All-Star game pitting the East All Stars vs. the West All Stars. The location of the All-Star game changes each year with recent games being held in Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Main. The AHL All-Star Festivities also include the AHL All-Star Skills Competition, where players get to show their prowess on the ice. The AHL also takes part in outdoor games. In the 2012-2013 season there were 2 such games played. During an outdoor AHL hockey game, a rink is built within an outdoor stadium allowing for a greater amount of fans to check out the action. In 2011, The Connecticut Whale hosted the Whale Bowl at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. It was only the AHL’s second outdoor game but brought in the AHL’s greatest attendance record in history at the time with 21,673 fans showing up to watch Providence face Hartford. This record was eclipsed in Philadelphia, where over 45,000 showed up to cheer on the Adirondack Phantoms and the Hershey Bears in the AHL Outdoor Classic.
During the 2013 - 2013 NHL lockout many players came to the AHL to play and fans were treated with exciting games with the hockey stars. In 2006 the AHL Hall of Fame was created and since then 27 members have been inducted. The hall of fame includes coaches, owners, players, and executives. The latest class of hockey players to enter the AHL Hall of Fame include Mitch Lamoureux, Harry Pidhirny, Maurice Podoloff, and Larry Wilson. With a long season, traditional to the hockey sport, the AHL is a great place to check out action on the ice and have a fun outing with family, friends, or loved ones.
Players like of Ryan Miller (Sabres), Ryan Getzlaf (Ducks), Corey Perry (Ducks), Niklas Kronwall (Red Wings) and Jeff Petry (Oilers) were all standout AHL players before moving the the NHL. The American Hockey League (AHL) is the top minor league affiliate league of the National Hockey League (think AAA level in baseball terms). Essentially, it's the last stop for draft picks and prospects before they get to the big leagues of hockey, which is unquestionably the NHL. The AHL is essentially a place where players are molded into professionals by playing the same schedule, by the same rules and with the same type of travel. So it shouldn't surprise you that AHL hockey games are competitive, entertaining and of high quality.
Thirty teams, located throughout the United States and Canada, make up the league and each AHL team has been affiliated with an NHL team since the 2010-11 hockey season. Annually, AHL teams compete for the Calder Cup, named after Frank Calder, in the playoffs. Essentially, the Calder Cup is the AHL's version of the NHL's Stanley Cup. The AHL has existed in some shape or form since the early 1900s and has been honing the skills of hockey prospects and draft picks to prepare their game for play in the NHL since.
There are a lot of benefits to purchasing AHL hockey tickets, the biggest draw, perhaps, is to watch the top prospects of your favorite NHL team evolve throughout the farm system before cracking the NHL lineup. Hockey is a skilled game, and these skills are on full display at AHL hockey games, and all at a cheaper rate than it would cost to see an NHL hockey game. You can also often score better seats to AHL hockey games, getting you closer to all the exciting goals, saves, fights and checks.
The AHL schedule is similar in games played to the NHL one, meaning it's not hard to score tickets to see a game around your own busy schedule. And just like the NHL, the AHL also holds All-Star games, outdoor Winter Classic type games and events and an awards ceremony at year's end. In 2006, the AHL Hall of Fame was even founded, inducting members such as Johnny Bower, Jody Gage, Eddie Shore and Frank Mathers. Many more have followed since the hall of fame was announced.
Of the many minor league hockey options available, the AHL is surely the most skilled, entertaining option for hockey fans. Part of this is because many of the players are NHLers in waiting, so the skating is fast, the passing is crisp and the skill level is very high. Not to mention that AHL tickets are a great value. Consider picking up tickets to one of the 30 AHL teams near you today.