UTICA, N.Y. – Daniel Sprong was in a car on the way to Utica, New York when he found out what events he’d be participating in during the 2018 AHL All-Star Skills Competition.
He’s pretty fired up about it.
“Oh, I’ve got some good ones, for sure,” he remarked before taking the ice at Adirondack Bank Center.
Sprong will represent the Eastern Conference All-Stars on Sunday night by taking part in the rapid fire shooting event, the three-on-none pass and shoot drill, as well as the marquee event of the night, the shootout relay.
The first event for Sprong will be the rapid fire shot, the perfect event for Sprong to showcase the lethal shot that has him leading the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins with 19 goals this season. In a fun twist, he’ll be paired with Chris Bourque, the lone all-star representative for the Penguins’ bitter rival, the Hershey Bears.
Sprong said that his Penguins teammate Tristan Jarry recommended this event, because it’s so hard for goaltenders to move from post to post in order to contend with two shooters. Jarry would know from experience, because he was in the crease for this event as an all-star last year.
Then, Sprong will participate in the pass and score event, a three-on-none rush during which all three players much touch the puck before trying to score on a goalie for the opposite conference. He’ll skate with Charlotte’s own rookie scoring sensation, Warren Foegele, as well as Providence’s Austin Czarnik. Sprong is particularly excited about this event, because the goalie opposing him will be an old friend, Antoine Bibeau of the San Jose Barracuda.
“I used to play with [Bibeau] in juniors, and he was a real help to me when I was coming into the league at 16-years-old,” Sprong said. “It’s good to see him and I’m happy to see he’s doing well… I’ll try not to embarrass him too much.”
So there’s definitely extra motivation for Sprong to shine in the pass and score three-on-none, but that mojo goes both ways. Bibeau is determined to keep his old Charlottetown teammate off the scoresheet, but if he’s successful in shutting out his old friend, he won’t gloat about it.
“No, no. I’m not that type of guy,” Bibeau said. “But if he scores on me, I’m sure he’ll let me know.”
Sprong will not be a part of the fastest skater competition, but for what it’s worth, his money is on Hartford Wolf Pack defenseman, John Gilmour.
Last for Sprong will be the breakaway challenge. He’ll be going in the sixth round once again with Foegele and Czarnik, in addition to Lehigh Valley’s T.J. Brennan and Laval’s Matt Taormina. That five-some will shoot against Ontario Reign goaltender, Cal Petersen. Sprong advised fans to stay tuned for some tricks he might have up his sleeve in the breakaway challenge, as he’s prepared to cut loose and enjoy the Skills Competition.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “There’s no reason to overthink it. I’m here to have fun and I’m excited to be a part of this weekend.”
• A full list of 2018 AHL All-Star Skills Competition events and competitors can be found here.
• The 2018 AHL All-Star Skills Competition will begin at 8:00 p.m. ET from the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, New York. The skills competition can be viewed in its entirety on TV on NHL Network.