TORONTO, April 7 – Avon native Ben Smith is headed to the playoffs. Smith will be playing in the American Hockey League playoffs with the Toronto Marlies, who clinched the best record in the AHL with a tie on Friday night. The Marlies are the top minor league affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Marlies are 51-18-1 with two games left in the regular season. Smith, playing in his first full AHL season since 2013, leads Toronto in goals (27) and points (57). The right wing is second in the team with 30 assists. His 27 goals and 57 points are AHL career-highs.
Smith has eight game-winning goals this year with the most recent coming earlier in March when he got the game-winning goal in the third period of a 4-3 win over Providence on March 11.
Not only does the eight game-winning goals tie a career high – Smith had eight game-winning goals in Rockford when playing with the Chicago Blackhawks top farm club in 2013 – but it is a new single season record for the Marlies and it currently leads the entire AHL.
Smith, 29, was named the captain of the team in January.
He had at least one point in 11 of 13 games played from February 23 through March 24 including a run of seven consecutive games with Smith scoring a total of 12 points (four goals, eight assists).
Smith was recognized earlier this week as one of 12 players to be named to the All-AHL team. Smith was named to the second team as voted by players and coaches in the league and media from around the AHL. After spending most of the past four seasons in the National Hockey League with Chicago, Toronto, Colorado and San Jose, Smith has helped the Marlies to the best record in the AHL.
The eighth-year pro out of Boston College won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013 and was a key contributor to Chicago’s 2014 season that ended in the Western Conference finals.
The AHL’s regular season ends on Sunday, April 15 with the top four teams in each division (16 teams) making the playoffs. The first round series is a best-of-five with the following series — conference semifinals, conference finals and Calder Cup finals — a best of seven.
By being the top team in the AHL this season, the Marlies won the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy. The trophy is presented to the American Hockey League team that finishes the regular season with the best points percentage.
Smith grew up in Avon and played his high school hockey at the Westminister School in Simsbury, graduating in 2006. He played his collegiate hockey at Boston College, graduating in 2010 and playing on two NCAA championship winning teams in 2008 and 2010.
2017-18 AHL First All-Star Team (stats through Apr. 5)
G – Garret Sparks, Toronto Marlies (42gp, 30-9-2, 1.81gaa, .936sv%, 6so)
D – Jacob MacDonald, Binghamton Devils (69gp, 19+33=52pts., 10 PPG, 20 PPA, 3 GWG)
D – Sami Niku, Manitoba Moose (71gp, 15+37=52pts., +18, 9 PPG)
LW – Chris Terry, Laval Rocket (58gp, 29+38=67pts., 13 PPG, 3 GWG)
C – Phil Varone, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (71gp, 21+46=67pts., +10, 6 PPG, 5 GWG)
RW – Mason Appleton, Manitoba Moose (71gp, 21+40=61pts., +13, 7 PPG, 6 GWG)
2017-18 AHL Second All-Star Team (stats through Apr. 5)
G – Michael Hutchinson, Manitoba Moose (24gp, 15-5-4, 2.21gaa, .933sv%, 1so)
D – T.J. Brennan, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (60gp, 13+30=43pts., +8, 3 PPG, 12 PPA)
D – Zach Redmond, Rochester Americans (63gp, 15+31=48pts., +10, 8 PPG, 172 SOG)
LW – Andreas Johnsson, Toronto Marlies (54gp, 26+28=54pts., +16, 8 PPG, 4 GWG)
C – Austin Czarnik, Providence Bruins (59gp, 21+41=62pts., +16, 11 PPG, 7 GWG)
RW – Ben Smith, Toronto Marlies (71gp, 27+30=57pts., +27, 2 SHG, 8 GWG)
|2016||San Jose (A)||AHL||14||8||2||10||2|
*As of April 6, 2018
|NHL playoff totals||27||7||2||9||1|
|AHL playoff totals||18||3||7||10||0|