SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The American Hockey League announced that former Greenville Grrrowl and current Springfield Falcons left wing Zdenek Blatny has been named the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week.
Blatny becomes the third former ECHL player in a row to win the award as former Florida Everblades and current Lowell center Keith Aucoin was the recipient on Mar. 6 and former Las Vegas Wranglers and current Omaha goaltender Brent Krahn won on Feb. 27. Other former ECHL players who have won the AHL award in 2005-06 are Mike Ayers (Dayton and Syracuse), Brian Finley (Toledo and Milwaukee), Jamie Holden (Fresno and Cleveland), Lawrence Nycholat (Jackson and Hershey) and Nathan Robinson (Toledo and Providence).
The ECHL has affiliations with 21 of the 27 teams in the AHL and for the past 16 years there has been a former ECHL player on the AHL team that has won the Calder Cup. The Everblades are the ECHL affiliate of the Lock Monsters.
Selected in the third round (68th overall) by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Blatny split his rookie season in 2001-02 between Greenville and Chicago of the AHL. He helped Greenville win the 2002 Kelly Cup Championship, scoring 10 points (2g-8a) in nine postseason games after scoring 10 points (5g-5a) in 12 regular season games for the Grrrowl. He then helped Chicago win the Calder Cup Championship scoring two goals in three playoff games after scoring seven points (4g-3a) in 41 regular season games with the Wolves.
Blatny helped Springfield go 2-1-1-0, scoring four goals and assisting on five others in a week when the team scored 10 total goals. After scoring a pair of power-play goals and an assist in a 5-3 loss at Albany on Wednesday, he assisted on both goals in a 2-1 win against Hartford on Friday and scored the game-tying goal in a 3-2 overtime loss to Providence. He ended the week scoring a goal and assisting on two others before converting on his shootout attempt to help Springfield beat Lowell 4-3 on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Blatny has 18 points (8g-10a) in 15 games with Springfield which acquired him in a trade after he began the season with Providence where he had 30 points (8g-22a) in 35 games. He has also played five games in the National Hockey League this season with Boston.
Former ECHL players who were nominees for the award are Andy Chiodo (Wheeling and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), Jaroslav Halak (Long Beach and Hamilton), Eric Healey (Jackson and Providence), Jani Hurme (Columbia and Portland), Jason Morgan (Mississippi, Florida and Norfolk) and Jesse Schultz (Columbia and Manitoba).
Halak, Hurme and Chiodo have all played in both the ECHL and the AHL this season.