“It was a tough road trip, sure, but nothing a beer or six won’t fix.”
- Hershey Bliss LW Russell Nahorniak. The Bliss went 0-4-1 on the road this week.
“It was a tough road trip, sure, but nothing a beer or six won’t fix.”
The SHL selected New York Night C Brock Manning as its Player of the Week. For the week, Manning scored 6 goals and contributed 4 assists. Manning now leads the SHL in both goals (with 19) and overall points (with 29).
Manning is a cousin of Super Bowl-winning quarterback Peyton Manning. “You can definitely see the bloodlines at work there,” said Night coach Preston Rivers. “He’s a born leader, and he’s always willing to do what it takes to win. If somebody’s open, he can make the perfect pass. If it’s his chance, he’s not afraid to call his own number.
“Whatever we’re going to achieve this year and going forward, he’s going to take us there.”
|New York Night||6||12||0||12||76||81|
|Michigan Gray Wolves||13||3||2||28||47||30|
Our interview of the week is with Hershey Bliss coach “Chocolate Chip” Barber.
SHL Digest: We are here today with “Chocolate Chip” Barber, coach of the Hershey Bliss.
Chip Barber: It’s a pleasure to talk to you.
SHLD: So, let’s start with the most important question, the one that’s on everyone’s lips. How did you feel about the Galaxy players becoming obsessed with the singing cows?
CB: Well, to be honest, I was a little surprised. I mean, that little ditty is very catchy, and I’ve seen it get stuck in people’s heads for a few minutes or even a couple hours afterward. But to sing it over and over again for days… that’s something else! It’s a testament to the power of the cows.
SHLD: Did you expect it to be those three guys who would be singing it?
CB: I wasn’t expecting [Casey] Thurman to be one of them, because he’s a star, and you wouldn’t figure it would be a star doing it, because you wouldn’t want to see your star get strangled. But yeah, those three guys all seem pretty weird, so I can see it. They’ve figured out how to really be the cows.
SHLD: So do you think you can use this to your advantage? Will you start playing the song in your arena?
CB: Absolutely! We might play it in between periods, in the visitor’s locker room, wherever. This could be some valuable psychological warfare for us.
SHLD: So, where did you get your nickname?
CB: Well, my given name is Charles Jr., so I was “Chip” to distinguish from my dad. So the “Chocolate Chip” was partially a play on my name. But also, I love chocolate. I mean, I really love it! I have it in my contract that I have to have at least 5 pounds of chocolate in my office at all times, at home or on the road. I can’t get enough of it.
SHLD: Coaching in Hershey must be great for you.
CB: You know it! For a guy like me to work in a town where you can smell chocolate in the air… I’m living the dream, baby.
SHLD: So how would you evaluate your team’s performance so far?
CB: We’re doing all right, but we need to pick it up. It’s going to take a lot more than singing cows for us to catch Washington.
SHLD: Do you think Washington is your main competition in the East? How do you think you stack up with them?
CB: They’re the team to beat, absolutely. The key to their success is they’re getting production from all three lines. For us, the Love Line is doing great, but we’re leaning on them too heavily. We’re going to need the second and third lines to step it up if we’re going to compete.
SHLD: And what about the competition in the West?
CB: The West is tough! They kicked our butts this last road trip. Michigan is a beast defensively, Dakota plays a great up-tempo game, and Anchorage is all-around tough. Whoever comes out of that division is going to be a great team.
SHLD: What about Saskatchewan?
CB: (pause) Yeah. Well, I can’t say too much, because they beat us. But… they’re trying hard! A for effort!
SHLD: Thanks for your time, Coach Barber, and good luck!
CB: Thanks. Time for some more chocolate!
The New York Night and the Michigan Gray Wolves faced off this week for the first time since Night LW Pascal Royal was injured by a hard Michigan check. After that game, the teams’ coaches traded harsh words, with New York’s Preston Rivers calling the Gray Wolves “goons” and Michigan’s Martin Delorme said the Night were more interested in “looking pretty and signing autographs” than in playing hockey.
This week’s showed that there is no love lost between the two teams. When New York’s starting lineup was announced before the game, to the tune of “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred, the crowd at Cadillac Place booed the visiting Night lustily. The teams proceeded to play a chippy, physical game, with the crowd exploding in cheers every time a New York player hit the boards.
The game was punctuated by a 3rd-period brawl. It started when frustrated Night D Dick Bradshaw started shoving Gray Wolves D Frank Mudrick, who responded with a hail of punches. At that point, all the players on the ice began shoving and wrestling. Bradshaw and Mudrick were both ejected.
After the game, a 2-1 win, Delorme expressed satisfaction and fired another shot across the Night’s bow. “I was very proud of our boys and our crowd,” said Delorme. “They made sure that New York understands what real hockey looks like. If their players need some extra hair gel after this game, I will buy it for them.”
Rivers called the crowd “bloodthirsty animals” and said that he expect the Gray Wolves to receive league discipline. “I’m just glad we got out in one piece,” said Rivers. “Those fans weren’t there for a hockey game; they wanted an MMA cage fight. I’m glad we only have to come here three times a year. Hopefully, by the next time, the league will make them clean up their act.”
The league did not take any disciplinary action as a result of the game.
The Washington Galaxy ruffled some feathers with a between-period promotional stunt this week. Between the first and second periods of the Galaxy’s game against the Hamilton Pistols, the goal mouths were covered with paper that depicted a caricature of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Fans were then invited onto the ice to take slapshots at the caricature; the first one to rip it won a prize.
The promotion was highly popular with most in attendance, but a few fans complained to the Galaxy front office, calling the promotion “disrespectful” and “un-American.”
Washington GM Garnet “Ace” Adams issued a statement apologizing for the promotion. The statement read in part: “Washington is a political town, and so it’s a popular subject for jokes and gibes. That said, we never want to make fun of the political preferences of any of our fans… If we do any politically-themed promotions in the future, we’ll be sure to ensure that the jokes are aimed equally at both sides. Galaxy hockey is bipartisan fun for the whole family.”
Asked to comment on the controversy, Washington coach Rodney Reagle said, “I’m ignorant enough about hockey. I don’t think you want me weighing in on politics.”
The Eastern clubs completed their first swing through the West this week. And the results were an unqualified disaster for the East: they combined to go 3-12-1 over the four-game stretch. Even lowly Saskatchewan went 2-2 over that stretch.
Does that indicate that the league’s Western teams are superior? Michigan Gray Wolves coach Martin Delorme thinks so. “In our division, we are used to playing a harder, more physical hockey,” said Delorme. “I don’t think they play quite as hard over there, so it is a shock.”
Anchorage Igloos RW Remi Montrechere agreed with Delorme’s assessment. “To succeed in this division, it’s all about winning the board battles, taking chances, getting greasy goals,” said Montrechere. “A lot of the Eastern teams seem to rely more on flow and set plays, and we’re good at disrupting that flow.”
Naturally, the Easterners weren’t rushing to agree with this assessment. Hamilton Pistols coach Ron Wright pointed out the small sample size. “Anything can happen over the span of four games,” Wright said. “When they came through our arenas a couple weeks ago, we did a lot better. Get back to me at the end of the year and we’ll see who’s better.”
New York Night C Brock Manning also pointed out that travel plays a role. “All the teams out here are pretty compact,” said Manning. “Traveling in the division is no big deal. But go out West, and you’re going from Michigan to South Dakota to Sasktchewan to Alaska. It’s just brutal.”
The one team that had a modicum of success out West was the Washington Galaxy, who went .500 on the swing despite being without injured C J.C. Marais. “I think they could succeed in the West,” said Delorme. “They’re a good team and they play heavy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them play for the championship. Anybody else, it would be a walkover.”