Thursday, 10 February 2011

Aulie Enjoying All-Star Season

When Keith Aulie looked around the dressing room at the American Hockey League All-Star festivities in Hershey last week, he didn't see a lot of familiar faces.

The 21-year old defenceman was the only former Wheat King that was selected to take part in the event.

Aulie isn't your prototypical All-Star, having only three goals, nine points and an even plus/minus rating in 35 games with the Toronto Marlies this season.

"These events are pretty cool and you look at players that have gone through there and there has been some guys that have gone on to a lot of success," says Aulie, "They had originally picked Joey Crabb but he's been in the NHL for the last few weeks now so they went looking for a replacement...it was an awesome event and I was pretty honours to be a part of it."

Aulie had one assist and finished -3 in the All-Star game, which his Western Conference lost 11-8 to the Eastern Conference last Monday but it wasn't the kind of game that a player who is more of a stay-at-home defenceman would really enjoy.

"Those games are so much about forwards showcasing their talents but you just hate to sit back and watch them do that," says Aulie, "You sure want to step up and be physical but you have to respect for what it's worth."

Aulie also participated in the All-Star Skills Competition in the hardest shot competition, registering a shot of 95.9 miles per hour, about one mile-per-hour slower than winner Brian Fahey of the Hershey Bears.

"I came really close...I had never really done that event so I didn't know exactly where I would be," says Aulie, "The one thing I do wish is that I had a stiffer stick. I felt like I couldn't quite get all my power behind it."

Aulie's second pro season has included a stint in the National Hockey League, with the 6-foot-5, 222 pound Rouleau, Saskatchewan product making his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada, at the Air Canada Centre on November 13 against the Vancouver Canucks.

"It was quite the whirlwind of a couple of months there. You go from being so excited about being called up to your first practice with the Leafs and then playing Vancouver before a sold-out crowd on Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada," says Aulie, "It was pretty exciting and a dream come true. I'm happy that when I was up I played well and played solid and I think I learned a lot while I was up there and I think I can make it work for him so the next time I'll be that much better."

Aulie eventually saw action in 12 games with the Maple Leafs before being returned to the American Hockey League on December 17.

He went pointless with a -5 rating with the big club but twice registering six hits in a contest (Dec.6 at Washington and Dec.9 vs Phildelphia) and saw over 21 minutes of action in a game against Boston on December 4th.

Aulie also has the distinction of being one of six former Wheat Kings to make their NHL debuts this season, joining Travis Hamonic (New York Islanders), Matt Calvert (Columbus Blue Jackets), Rob Klinkhammer (Chicago Blackhawks), Alexander Urbom (New Jersey Devils) and Ryan Reaves (St. Louis Blues).

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