This season’s AHL All Star Classic takes on a much more special and competitive stance than it has in year’s past. It isn’t a conference on conference, no hitting, play for fun, skill fest. This year we have the AHL All Stars facing off against Färjestad BK of the Swedish Elite League. That meant making the AHL All Star team was far more difficult than it was in the past. One team. The entire league to select. And Colton Sissons, in his first year of professional hockey, made the roster.
“I was shocked,” said Colton Sissons on making the AHL All Star team. “It was an unbelievable surprise and I’m really just so happy to be a part of it. It’s going to be a little bit nerve-racking for me being a pretty young guy there and probably the least amount of experience there. But, it will be a really cool experience.”
Sissons was able to make a splash in his very first weekend as a pro hockey player. The Admirals started their season off on the road against the Abbotsford Heat – just under fifty miles away from Sissons hometown of Vancouver. His family was in attendance for his first two games and they were able to see him score his first professional point in his first professional game – followed by his first professional goal the next night.
The family trend continued on for him as well when he made his NHL debut on the road against the Winnipeg Jets. In his first career performance at the NHL level he was able to score an assist for his first NHL point.
“That’s pretty special that they got to see my first goal and point as an Admiral,” said Sissons. “Then my first assist and NHL game. That’s pretty special for my parents and my whole family.”
The 20-year old has been one of the most consistent players for the Admirals this season. At the time of his first NHL call up he led the team in scoring. After his two looks up top in Nashville, he now sits second on the team in scoring. Sissons has 29 points (17 goals, 12 assists). The next closest on the team to him in goals scored are Miikka Salomaki and Austin Watson who each have 12 goals.
What has stood out far more to me than purely his numbers has been his intelligence and maturity on the ice. He’s a two-way player that makes great decisions on where he needs to be to best help out his teammates. On offense, he has been brilliant at finding soft spots in the defense that helps him be open and readily available for a shot or a pass. On defense, he isn’t afraid to block shots but does an even better job at using his six-foot frame to take away space on the passing or shooting lanes.
“It’s a big part of my game,” said Sissons. “Being well-rounded in all aspects: offensively, defensively, and special teams. That’s helped me jump from juniors to here and, obviously, it helped me see my name on the [AHL All Star Classic] roster.”
The AHL All Star Classic begins with the Skills Competition festivities tomorrow night and then the actual game the following night on Wednesday. All the action from the AHL All Star Classic will be broadcast, on tape delay, on the NHL Network starting at 10:00 PM EST. Sissons is expected to take part in the Skills Competition but, as he explained in this morning’s Chatterbox, he doesn’t quite know how he will factor into it yet. He traveled late last night all the way out to Newfoundland where the host of the year’s AHL All Star Classic, the St. John’s IceCaps, are based. Wednesday night, he could be on the ice at the same time as Nashville Predators prospect Pontus Åberg – a second round draft pick of the Preds in the 2012 NHL Draft who plays for Färjestad BK. It’s not quite going to be your same type of All Star game. The AHL All Stars, Sissons included, want to compete hard.
“It’s not just a token All Star game,” said Sissons. “It’s going to be competitive and we’re going to want to win. That’s kind of nice. It won’t just be a lackadaisical event. So, I’m looking forward to that part of it.”
What has impressed you the most about Colton Sissons this year? Will you be tuning in for Sissons AHL All Star appearance?