It’s been a strange season for the Anchorage Igloos. The defending division champs have struggled to find all momentum all season; their record has hovered around the .500 mark, and they have won more than three games in a row only once this season. Coach Sam Castor called out his team last month when they stood at 12-13-0 and were tied with Saskatchewan for second place; they’ve improved a bit since then, going 10-7-0, but not enough to lock down a playoff berth.
With the Seattle Sailors making major moves to take a run at the spot down the stretch, the Igloos made a significant deal of their own to solidify their position, acquiring C Harvey Bellmore from the Dakota Jackalopes in exchange for F Mason Kilborn and a second-round draft pick.
“We’ve been clear from the start that this is a playoff team,” said Igloos GM Will Thorndike. “We know we’ve got the personnel here to go all the way, and we didn’t see the need for any major moves that might disrupt our chemistry. But bringing Harvey on board gives us a little extra firepower on the bottom line, and that kind of depth always helps in the playoffs.”
Bellmore is the second Dakota center to be dealt today; the rebuilding Jackalopes sent Lars Karlsson to Seattle in the biggest deadline move. Bellmore is in the middle of a strong season, putting up 11 goals and 18 assists, although he is arguably better known in Dakota for his practical jokes than for his on-ice performance.
Like Karlsson, his contract expires at the end of the season. Unlike Karlsson, he was publicly unhappy with the team’s direction and made it clear that he wanted out. He created a stir in Dakota earlier this season when he crashed the team’s “Faith Day” celebration and gave a sermon on the virtues of alcohol. He denied at the time that the stunt was intended to force a trade, but several of his teammates read it that way.
“As a player, it’s always more fun when you’re on a contending team,” said Bellmore after the deal was announced. “So this is exciting for me. Let me say to the fans of Dakota: So long, and thanks for all the wheat. I’m packing up my joy buzzers and my dribble glasses and headed north to Alaska! Hope I don’t get eaten by a grizzly.”
Bellmore should give Anchorage’s third line a significant offensive boost; he displaces veteran Broni Zhlotkin, who is slow and not a great shot creator. Bellmore is considered a careless defender, however. It’s also not clear whether his goofy nature will fit in with the more serious-minded Anchorage clubhouse.
Bellmore was a considerably cheaper rental than Karlsson, who cost Seattle a pair of top prospects in addition to a draft pick. The 22-year-old Kilborn made his debut this season; he showed promise in limited action, posting a goal and 4 assists in 10 games with the Igloos.
“We’re glad to add a promising youngster like Mason Kilborn to the fold,” said Jackalopes GM Paul Mindegaard. “He’s an energetic and athletic player who can make an impact on both ends. We’re excited to get him.”
With Bellmore on board and the playoffs the expectation, the heat may be on Castor if the Igloos wind up missing the postseason. But the coach says he welcomes the pressure: “This is our chance to show what we can do. The spotlight’s on me and on all of us. Let’s get it done.”