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Matt Lashoff scores pretty shootout goal as PlanetUSA beats Canada 19-14

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Matt Lashoff scores pretty shootout goal as PlanetUSA beats Canada 19-14

The Canadian Press
By:

The Providence Bruins defenceman did his best impression of Marek Malik on Sunday, scoring a breakaway relay goal that helped PlanetUSA to a 19-14 victory over Canada at the American Hockey League all-star skills competition.

Lashoff, a 20-year-old who played for the OHL's Kitchener Rangers last year, dropped the puck between his legs before before beating Wade Dubielewicz. It was reminiscent of the highlight-reel move Malik used to win a shootout for the New York Rangers last year.

"I think I've got a little bit too much time after practice," he said. "You've got to have a little fun out here."

Lashoff has appeared in 12 games for the NHL's Boston Bruins this season. He's not sure if he'd ever try the fancy deke in a shootout at that level.

"That's a game-time decision," Lashoff said with a laugh.

It topped off an entertaining evening at Ricoh Coliseum. The paid attendance was 7,091 but the actual crowd looked closer to 5,000.

Those who were here got a close-up view of the action as the glass along the sides of the rink was removed. The all-stars chatted with fans during the event and stayed on the ice 30 minutes after it was finished to sign autographs.

PlanetUSA's victory in the event avenged a loss to Canada at last year's all-star skills competition in Winnipeg. The world team has won eight of 12 overall.

"Bragging rights were on the line," said Toronto Marlies forward Erik Westrum. "It's good to get the first one out of the way."

The all-star game goes Monday night (7 p.m. ET).

PlanetUSA built a big lead in the early events of the skills competition and Canada was unable to mount a comeback during the breakaway relay, the final event where every goal is scored as a point for the team.

Canadian goalie Curtis McElhinney and PlanetUSA's Karri Ramo each finished with 15 saves to top the goalies in the event.

"I'm optimistic about how many goals I'll let in this weekend," McElhinney said with a laugh. "I'm just trying to have fun with it."

Jonathan Filewich of Kelowna, B.C., won the fastest skater competition for Canada with a time of 14.553 seconds. It was the second slowest time ever to win the event in 12 AHL all-star skills competitions.

The 22-year-old winger for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins couldn't help but laugh afterwards.

"Coaches have always told me I have to work on my speed," he said. "So that's kind of funny."

McElhinney, who plays for Omaha, earned Canada another point in the rapid fire event by stopping all 10 pucks fired his way by PlanetUSA teammates Bill Thomas and Ryan Callahan.

The 23-year-old McElhinney is a sixth-round draft pick of the Calgary Flames and has four shutouts this season. He used a simple strategy during the rapid fire event.

"I was trying to stay in the centre of the net and not slide out of the crease," said the native of London, Ont.

Dustin Byfuglien of the Norfolk Admirals brought the crowd to its feet when he ripped a shot of 98.7 miles per hour during the fastest shot competition. It was the hardest to win the competition since Canada's Rene Bourque hit 99.8 m.p.h. in 2005.

Rochester Americans forward Clarke MacArthur won the accuracy shooting for Canada by hitting four of five targets. Only Andy Hilbert, at the 2005 event in Manchester, N.H., has ever hit four out of four.

Darren Haydar, the AHL's leading scorer with 89 points, didn't manage to hit any targets during his turn. The Toronto native wanted to put on a better performance for his many family and friends in attendance.

"I think I need a goalie in the net," said Haydar, who plays for the Chicago Wolves. "I'm pretty disappointed with that performance."

Notes: Philadelphia Phantoms defenceman Nolan Baumgartner received a few boos after failing to crack 90 miles per hour in the hardest shot contest . . . A few shooters later, Sheldon Brookbank of the Milwaukee Admirals got some groans when he missed the net with one of his attempts . . . Adam Oates (PlanetUSA) and Steve Thomas (Canada) are serving as honourary captains of the event. The former linemates for the Tier II Markham Waxers both went undrafted, but combined to play over 2,500 NHL games in their careers.

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Matt Lashoff scores pretty shootout goal as PlanetUSA beats Canada 19-14