Team Canada Claims AHL All-Star Classic Skills Challenge

Team Canada Claims AHL All-Star Classic Skills Challenge 9:43 p.m.: Team Canada takes this one 18-12 as things come to a close here at the CCCC in downtown Portland.

It's just the second time in seven years that the Canadians won the challenge. Here's a helpful link to the complete results.

9:40 p.m.: Lehtonen brought some excitement to the breakaway challenge when he attempted a lacrosse-style move. The P-Bruin forward scooped the puck up and cradled it as he approached the goalie only to lose control when he reached the crease.

9:37 p.m.: After six events, it's Canada leading 13-7. They took the last competition — the Pass and Score event — by a score of 5-2.

9:32 p.m.: Lake Erie's T.J. Hensick had quite the journey getting here.

He arrived just moments ago — almost two hours late — all because of a simple flight delay in Chicago. That headache forced him to rent a car, drive to Cleveland and fly into Boston before hitting 95 north to Portland.

But it doesn't end there. When he arrived he noticed he had two right skates in his bag. Looks like he's rocking a pair of new blades tonight and tomorrow.

9:22 p.m.:
Another 3-0 sweep for the Canadians who were led by Jon Matsumoto who sniped four targets in just five attempts. Canada now leads 8-5.

Local favorite and former BC Eagle Nathan Gerbe had a chance to steal the show as the final contestant but the Pirates' forward managed just three targets in eight attempts.

9:14 p.m.: Trevor Fleurent of the RBC Future Stars gets things started off on the right foot as he takes down all four targets.

And with it, he gets Canada the point and the 6-5 lead as we head into the second heat.

9:10 p.m.: Team Canada's Blair Jones takes the hardest shot competition with a bone-rattling 100.7 MPH slapper. Jones' jolt knots things up at five apiece here as we head into the accuracy shooting event next.

9:06 p.m.: Leading the way in the Rapid Fire contest were skaters Logan Couture (WOR), Patrick Rissmiller (GR) and Sean Sullivan (SA) who each scored three times.

For the goalies, Cedrick Desjardins (HAM) led the way with nine saves. As mentioned earlier, each team came away with 20 stops for the tie.

9:01 p.m.:
What would an All-Star Classic be without a dance contest among the team mascots? I just can't pick a winner — not that they're all really, really good (because they are), but because each and every one of them stole my move: the running man.

8:56 p.m.: Lehtonen and partner Patrick Rissmiller got four goals past keeper Justin Peters. Both teams' netminders stopped the same amount of shots however, so each team gets the point making it 5-3 PUSA.

8:49 p.m.: Next up we have the RBC Rapid Fire challenge. This event will feature P-Bruin Mikko Lehtonen.

8:44 p.m.: PUSA makes it a clean 3-0 sweep in the second event to take the lead 4-2. Bobby Sanguinetti of the Hartford Wolfpack leads the way as he sets a new AHL Skills Challenge record with a 13.677 lap on the fastest skater competition.

8:39 p.m.: Bust out your radar guns, it's time for the fastest skater competition.

8:36 p.m.: The Canadian AHL All-Stars took the first challenge with a little help from their younger teammates.

The duo of Trevor Fleurent and Matthew Michaud of the RBC Future Stars stole the first heat when they snuck past Cam Cain and Dan Hanley.

PUSA took the second heat thanks to the three-man team of Jonas Junland, Sergei Shirokov and Jack Skille.

Canada stole the decisive heat when Cal O'Reilly edged Viatcheslav Voynov.

8:33 p.m.:
Hair award goes to Martin St. Pierre from Binghamton (and Team Canada), who is rocking a sweet blonde mohawk.

8:25 p.m.: Team Canada took the 2-1 lead after the first event — the puck control relay. Details to follow.

8:19 p.m.: Old pal Byron Dafoe is in the house and serving as an honorary captain tonight. The former Bruin backstop is also a Portland Pirate Hall of Famer.

Joining Dafoe as an honorary captain is Ken Daneyko, a former Maine Mariner.

8:13 p.m.: Don't look now, but Oliver Wahlstrom is back in the spotlight. The youngster is lined up alongside his Jr. Pirate teammates during the player introductions.

8:05 p.m.: J.C. is 1-for-1 on the blades tonight as he just got done speaking with team captains Graham Mink (PlanetUSA All-Stars, Rochester Americans) and Nolan Baumgartner (Canadian All-Stars, Manitoba Moose).

Both captains are fired up and honored to be leading their respective teams for this two-day affair in Maine.

8:01 p.m.:
As Tom Caron points out, this is the hottest All-Star event on ice this season. The NHL is taking a break from the annual event due to the Olympics in Vancouver.

7:58 p.m.: Get the gauze ready EMTs, John Chandler is on skates tonight to interview the players during the competition.

Over/under of how many times I proudly blog "Down goes Chandler!" is set at: 5.5.

7:44 p.m.: Fans interested in taking full advantage of the Classic's events have the chance to see Bob Marley perform after tonight's challenge.

That's Bob Marley the comic, who will be performing stand up at the After Party at the Holiday Inn by the Bay here in Portland.

7:41 p.m.:
Fans can watch this competition live on NESN as well as Tuesday night's AHL All-Star game.

Helping us along with tonight's event will be  NESN's own John Chandler, who has found a comfy seat on the bench to get the fans some good post-challenge quotes.

7:33 p.m.:
We're almost ready to go here as both squads have hit the ice for pregame warmups.

The fans here are right on top of the action — literally. The side glass has been removed to give fans a closer look at their favorite players. Actually, it also gives them the ability to reach out and grab their favorite teams' most hated rival. How would Mike Milbury like playing here?

2:00 p.m.: Welcome to frigid Portland where the snow continues to fall and the locals are gearing up for a couple days of exciting AHL action from the league's best.

The AHL All-Star Classic kicks off this afternoon with a welcome reception at 5 p.m., but the real fun starts at 8 p.m., when the two teams take part in the annual skills challenge.

The Bruins, who currently trail the Sens 2-0 here in the second period, have had their fair share of AHL action before landing in the NHL. Here's a quick list of current Bruins who have taken part in the annual AHL All-Star Classic event:

Tuukka Rask, 2007-08
Patrice Bergeron, 2004-05
Dennis Wideman
, 2004-05
Zdeno Chara, 1997-98
Marc Savard
, 1997-98

Also, Michael Ryder reached the 2003 Calder Cup Finals with Hamilton, who were coached by B's skipper Claude Julien and Bruins assistant coach Geoff Ward, who earned co-AHL coaches of the year that season.

Check back later this afternoon for updates and analysis and a lineup of those participating in the challenge.

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