The roster for the Eastern Division in the SHL’s first All-Star Game, as announced by coach Rodney Reagle, are as follows:
LW: Steven Alexander, Hamilton. The young, scrappy, and hungry winger has been one of the SHL’s top scorers since the beginning. This year, Alexander is tied for the league lead in goals with 23. “I am not throwing away my shot,” Alexander told reporters, confirming that he will play.
D: Reese Milton, Hershey. The 25-year-old blueliner is one of the SHL’s best two-way threats, contributing solidly on offense (7 goals, 24 assists) and providing lock-down defense that has helped propel the Bliss to the top of the division. “For once, Reese will be on my side, instead of kicking my butt,” said Reagle.
C: Justin Valentine, Hershey. Valentine was the top overall vote-getter among Eastern All-Stars. He needed them all, as this was one of the most competitive positions. Valentine withstood a determined charge from New York’s Brock Manning, Hamilton’s Calvin Frye, and Washington’s Eddie Costello. Valentine is tied for the league lead in goals (23) and is in the top five in points (39).
D: Dominic Sanchez, New York. Sanchez was the beneficiary of a late surge in voting from the New York area, allowing him to surpass Hamilton’s Raymond Smyth to claim a starting spot. Sanchez is one of the league’s top offensive defenseman, and he has put up 30 points (6 goals, 24 assists) for the Night so far this season.
RW: Jefferson McNeely, Washington. McNeely withstood a late charge from New York’s Rick “The Stick” Nelson to win this starting spot by less than 5,000 votes. The winger is having a bit of a down season, but he is still among Washington’s top scorers with 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists). When reporters called McNeely to get his reaction to being selected, they discovered that he had not yet learned he had been chosen. “What’d I miss?” McNeely said.
LW: Lance Sweet, Hershey. Sweet is a member of Hershey’s well-known “Love Line,” among the top-scoring lines in the SHL. Sweet has more than held up his end of the bargain, putting up 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) on the season so far. He is just outside the league’s top 10 in both points and assists.
D: Raymond Smyth, Hamilton. Smyth lost out on a starting spot to Dominic Sanchez in the final days of voting, but Reagle wasted no time tapping him as a reserve. Smyth has the numbers to back up his case: he has the most points (38) of any defenseman in the league, and he has an excellent defensive reputation as well.
C: Brock Manning, New York. Manning fell short to Valentine in the voting for the hotly-contested center position, but he was selected by Reagle as a reserve. Manning has long been one of the SHL’s top scorers, and this season is no exception; his 21 goals puts him in the league’s top five. As the Night have improved in recent weeks, Manning has led the way, scoring 10 goals in the last two weeks.
D: Kevin Buchanan, Washington. Buchanan was one of three Galaxy players that Reagle named to the Eastern squad. He is the top point-scorer among Washington’s defensive corps with 18, but he is known primarily as a stay-home defender. “I was afraid of what Kevin would do to me if I didn’t pick him,” said Reagle.
RW: Christopher Hart, Hershey. Hart joins his linemate Sweet among the Eastern reserves. He is among the top 10 in the league in points with 36 (10 goals, 26 assists). “Glad to see the Love Line representing!” Hart said. “We’re going to tear it up out there.”
LW: Casey Thurman, Washington. Thurman is having a bit of a down year by his standards, but he remains the Galaxy’s leader in goals scored (with 14), which is good enough to put him in the top 10 in the league. “I had to talk Casey into it a little,” said Reagle. “He didn’t think he deserved it, but I convinced him that he did.”
D: Ward Jones, Quebec. Jones will be the Tigres’ only All-Star representative, as Riki Tiktuunen will miss the game due to injury. Jones is one of the key contributors to the Tigres’ largely anonymous but second-ranked defense. He has been a stalwart on Quebec’s top line, producing 3 goals and 3 assists while providing rugged defense.
C: Calvin Frye, Hamilton. Frye was not voted in as a starter despite being in the top ten in the league in both goals (14) and assists (28). Frye was named SHL Rookie of the Year last season, and he shows no signs of dropping off in his sophomore campaign, on pace for a 25-point improvement from his rookie point total.
D: Grant Warriner, Washington. The Galaxy’s second-year blueliner is proving his worth as a two-way contributor. He has thrived beside free-agent signing Patrick Banks in Washington’s second pairing, putting up 17 points to go with a +10 rating. “I didn’t want to pick too many of my own guys,” said Reagle, “but I look at the numbers until my eyes crossed, and I didn’t see anyone who was more deserving.”
RW: Ivan Trujwirnek, New York. The second-year winger known affectionately as “Trainwreck” has been a consistent contributor on a struggling Night team. His rugged, hard-working play quickly earned the notice of coach Nick Foster, who wound up promoting him from the third line up to the top line. He has continued to produce even with the promotion, putting up 8 goals and 11 assists.
Roger Orion, Washington. The Galaxy have been a defense-first team this season, and Orion has been a key piece of the equation. He is among the top 5 in the league in wins (9), GAA (2.50), and save percentage (.922). He was voted the starter by over 10,000 votes more than his closest competitor.
Dennis Wampler, Hamilton. Orion originally named Quebec’s Riki Tiktuunen as the backup netminder, but the sophomore star was injured in Friday’s loss to Dakota. Pistols rookie Lasse Koskinen was another possibility, but he was also injured this week and therefore unavailable. So Reagle turned to Koskinen’s backup, Wampler. The second-year man has been strong, going 6-3-1 with a 2.47 GAA and a .913 save percentage.