GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The American Hockey League announced on Thursday that Grand Rapids Griffins forward Matt Lorito and defenseman Robbie Russo have been selected to play for the Central Division All-Star Team at the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross, to be held Jan. 29-30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa.
Each of the AHL’s four divisions will be represented by 12 players. Rosters were determined by committees of AHL coaches, and all 30 AHL teams are represented by at least one All-Star.
Lorito and Russo will join head coach Todd Nelson at the event, as Nelson earned the honor to coach the Central Division by virtue of Grand Rapids owning the division’s best record as of Dec. 31.
Lorito, 26, ranks among the league’s leaders with 22 assists (3rd) and 32 points (4th). The 5-foot-9, 171-pound winger has been an integral component in the Griffins’ vaunted league-leading power play attack, as his 18 power play points (4-14—18) and 14 power play assists both tie for third on the circuit. His 10 multi-point games are tops on the team.
Lorito has been selected to his first all-star game in his second year as a professional. He was named the AHL’s Player of the Week for the period ending Nov. 20 to garner his first career league accolade.
A four-year player for the Brown Bears (ECAC), Lorito led the Albany Devils in assists (36) and points (18-36—54) as a rookie last season.
Russo, 23, paces all Griffins defensemen in scoring and ties for 15th among AHL blueliners with 18 points (5-13—18). The 6-foot, 195-pound Russo ties for third on the team with two game-winning goals and places fifth with a plus-six rating.
Russo is the first player in franchise history to be named to a year-end All-Star Team, an All-Rookie Team and an All-Star Classic.
During a historic rookie campaign in 2015-16, Russo became the first player in the team’s 20-year history to earn both All-Rookie and All-Star Team accolades in the same season when he was named to the AHL Second All-Star Team. Russo tallied five goals and 34 assists (5-34—39) in 71 games for Grand Rapids, while posting a league-leading plus-40 rating.
A native of Westmont, Ill., Russo played four seasons at the University of Notre Dame, including serving as captain his senior year.
Complete rosters for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic can be found here.
The 2017 AHL All-Star Skills Competition presented by Giant Food Stores and Velaspan on Jan. 29 (7:30 p.m.) will pit the All-Stars from the two Eastern Conference divisions against those from the two Western Conference divisions in seven skills events.
In the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge on Jan. 30 (7 p.m.), the four teams will participate in a round-robin tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each, played entirely at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played at 3-on-3.