The SHL selected Anchorage Igloos C Jake Frost as its Player of the Week. Frost had an incredible week, scoring 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) and leading the Igloos to an undefeated week that lengthened their lead in the West to 6 points. On Sunday, Frost scored twice and added an assist in the Igloos’ 5-1 win over Seattle. On Wednesday, he had a four-point day (two goals, two assists) to lead Anchorage’s 6-1 beatdown of Hershey. Then on Friday, Frost scored the Igloos’ first goal in a key 3-2 overtime win over Michigan.
Frost has resumed his place among the league;s top scorers. His 37 goals leads the league, and his 61 points is third in the league overall, behind teammates Jerry Koons and Nicklas Ericsson. It’s only the second time in SHL history that the top three point scorers in the league have all played for the same team. (The Hamilton Pistols had the top four point scorers for a couple weeks last month.)
“We’ve got a lot of good scorers here, but in the end, it’s still Jake’s team,” said Ericsson. “If it’s Game 7 of the Finals, Jake’s the guy we all want taking the big shot. He’s our star, and we all know that.”
SHL Digest: We’re here this week with a man in the thick of a playoff race, a member of the Love Line, Hershey’s Lance Sweet. Lance, thanks for speaking with us.
Lance Sweet: No problem. Always glad to talk hockey!
SHLD: All right, let’s talk hockey! Your Bliss have been out front in the East for the season, but lately you’ve fallen behind Washington. What do you think you need to do to catch back up with the Galaxy?
LS: That’s definitely the question of the moment for us right now. I think the key is going to be staying strong on both ends. Especially defensively; lately, we’ve been playing in our own end too much. We’ve got to be strong at denying entry and winning the puck battles in the neutral zone.
SHLD: Washington’s won the division title the last two seasons in a row. Does that put more pressure on you guys to get over the hump?
LS: I’d be lying if I said we didn’t think about it. Definitely the way last year ended, that really hurt. But the way we look at it, that gives us some extra fuel. This is our chance to prove ourselves. So I don’t think it’s pressure so much as inspiration.
SHLD: Washington certainly seems happy to fuel your rivalry. What did you think of their “Hershey-pocalypse” bit?
LS: It definitely got us fired up, for sure. I mean, it was a total waste of a lot of good chocolate.
SHLD: Do the Bliss plan to do anything to get back at them for it?
LS: As far as I’m concerned, the best revenge would be for us to beat them on the ice.
SHLD: Makes sense! Let’s talk about the Love Line a bit. To most SHL fans, when they think of the Bliss, they think you guys are the whole show. A couple of years ago, when you got hurt and missed significant time, it sank your team’s season. Is the Love Line still central to the team’s success?
LS: I don’t think so, and that’s a good thing. The book on us used to be “Stop the Love Line, and you can stop Hershey.” But now, if one of us went down – knock on wood – I think we’d be fine. Maybe not Justin [Valentine], but if I got hurt, I think we’d be fine. We’ve got so many other weapons: Kirks [Spencer Kirkpatrick], Horny [Russ Nahorniak], Connie [Henry Constantine], and more. We’re a more balanced team, and we’re a stronger team.
SHLD: Since we’re talking about the Love Line, one last question: are you guys still as popular with the female fans as you were in the beginning?
LS: [laughs] Uhh… well, to be honest, yeah. The ladies love us. Of course, it’s a little different now, ’cause Justin’s engaged and I’ve got a girlfriend. But Chris [Hart] is still single! We send all the girls his way now.
SHLD: Can he handle that?
LS: I haven’t heard him complain.
SHLD: That’s good. Well, thanks for a fun and interesting conversation, Lance! Good luck the rest of the season.
The CHL’s Muncie Squirrels have made no secret of their connection to the late television painter Bob Ross. Ross filmed his iconic “Joy of Painting” series in Muncie, and the team selected its name as a tribute to the painter’s fondness for raising baby squirrels.
The Squirrels were out of town on Thursday, but they opened up Ball Arena to host “Bob Ross Night.” Over 3,000 Squirrel fans and Muncie residents turned out to celebrate the life of the famous painter, and Squirrels GM Clay Charles described the event as “a tremendous success.”
It’s not the first Ross-themed promotion that the Squirrels have held; previously, they have given away T-shirts with Ross’s face on them, as well as stuffed squirrels modeled after Peapod, the painter’s best-known companion. This was the first time, however, that they had done an event that wasn’t tied to a game.
As fans entered the event, they received commemorative keychains shaped like Ross’s famous palette. A continuous loop of “Joy of Painting” episodes ran on the arena’s Jumbotron throughout the event, and people were invited to “sit as long as you like and enjoy Bob’s tranquil voice and his happy little trees and paintings.”
Those who wanted a more active experience could paint along with a Certified Bob Ross Instructor, who showed fans how to create one of the painter’s signature landscapes. In addition, several of Ross’s colleagues and former employees of WIPB-TV shared stories about the main and the experience of creating “Joy of Painting.”
“It was just a really wonderful, special experience,” said Muncie resident Jane Chivers, 38, who described herself as a lifelong fan of Ross. “It was like for one night, Bob was still with us, helping us find peace and happiness through art.”
The Squirrels offered fans who attended the event discounted tickets to a future game. Charles reported that “we’ve been flooded with calls” from people taking advantage of the offer.
The GM proclaimed himself “100% pleased” with how the event came out. He said that he hopes to make Bob Ross Night an annual event. He said that going forward, he planned to schedule the event on a day when the team was in Muncie so that the players could attend.
“I’d like to strengthen the links between Bob and the team,” said Charles. “Maybe some of our players could paint along; I bet our fans would love to see Kyler White or Dylan Alizarin try to paint some happy little trees.”