Former Petrolia Jet Netminder Michael Leighton Sets AHL Shutout Record
– story courtesy of Bob Duff, the Windsor Star

Blocking 35 shots in a 5-0 win over the Lake Erie Monsters, Rockford IceHogs goalie Michael Leighton became the American Hockey League’s all-time shutout leader on the weekend.

A former Windsor Spitfire who lives in LaSalle, Leighton, 34, posted his 46th shutout, one more than legendary Hall of Famer Johnny Bower, who put up 45 AHL zeroes before moving full-time to the NHL and winning four Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s definitely something I was looking forward to and kind of striving for,” Leighton said. “At the beginning of the season I knew I needed five to go ahead of him so that was one of my goals for the season.”

Leighton returned to the AHL last season after playing a year in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

“I think Russia was just a temporary thing,” Leighton said. “I just went over there for some money and I knew I wasn’t going to be doing that very long with my family being at home. I knew I’d be back in either the AHL or the NHL in the near future.

“I was hoping a team would give me an opportunity and thankfully Rockford gave me that opportunity last year.”

Leighton can’t say enough good things about the IceHogs, top farm club of the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

“It’s definitely the best organization I’ve been with in the AHL,” Leighton said. “They treat us really good. It’s definitely somewhere after last season that I wanted to be again if I was going to be in the AHL.

“I was happy to come back.”

Leighton made his AHL debut in 2001 with Norfolk and has also played for Rochester, Portland, Philadelphia, Albany, Adirondack and Rockford. Bower spent 11 seasons in the AHL with the Cleveland Barons and Providence Reds.

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