- On Monday, the Dakota Jackalopes activated C Tanner Brooks from the injured list. Shortly before the All-Star break, Brooks suffered an upper-body injury. Although the injury initially did not seem that serious, Brooks wound up missing over three weeks. As the Jackalopes had an available roster spot, they did not need to make a compensating move to activate Brooks.
- Also on Monday, the Hershey Bliss‘ CHL affiliate in Milwaukee placed LW Karl Gjovik on the injured list. Gjovik exited in the first period of Sunday’s 3-1 win over Cleveland after being upended on a devastating check, and did not return. He is expected to miss at least two weeks. To replace Gjovik, Milwaukee signed F Jerry Cazenovia to a short-term contract.
- On Wednesday, the Hamilton Pistols activated C Marco Venezio from the injured list. The veteran center missed 10 games with a lower=body injury suffered just before the All-Star break. In order to make room for Venezio, the Pistols reassigned C Hilliard Macy to their CHL affiliate in Oshawa, and released F Bobby Warner from Oshawa.
- Wednesday was the trading deadline. The following trades were consummated at the deadline:
- The Michigan Gray Wolves traded RW Gordon Lunsford to the Boston Badgers for RW Rory Socarra. (More details here.) After the trade, Boston demoted RW Felix Delorme to their CHL affiliate in Hartford, and recalled F Jacques Bacon from Hartford.
- The Gray Wolves traded LW Misha Petronov, F Cary Estabrook, and D Brandon Arrowood to the New York Night for LW Flynn Danner, F Henry Constantine, and D Anson Brank. (More details here.) After the trade, Michigan demoted LW Fendrick Scanlan to their CHL affiliate in Cleveland, and New York promoted RW Harris Wondolowski from their affiliate in Utah.
- The Dakota Jackalopes traded D Victor Addison to Boston in exchange for D Jackson Creed. After the trade, the Badgers demoted D Bjorn Tollefson to their minor-league affiliate in Hartford.
- Michigan traded C Warren Marlow to the Quebec Tigres in exchange for C Phil Miller, LW Carl Bleyer, and a 1st-round draft pick. (More details here.) After the trade, the Gray Wolves released F Caleb Moulton. The Tigres demoted C Dwight Flynn to their CHL affiliate in Halifax, and signed F Tim Daisey to a minor-league deal.
- On Saturday, the Anchorage Igloos recalled RW Jean Pierre Fleury from their CHL affiliate in Minnesota. The Igloos demoted Fleury to Minnesota during the All-Star break, and he played brilliantly there, recording 19 points in 12 games, including the CHL’s first-ever five-goal game. To make room for Fleury, the Igloos reassigned RW Lionel LaNeige to Minnesota.
- Anchorage Igloos fan tommy_boy_440 on Instagram, bemoaning the team’s recent nine-game winless streak
The following transactions occurred during the All-Star break:
- The Anchorage Igloos demoted RW Jean Pierre Fleury and G Wendall Cantillon to their CHL affiliate in Minnesota and called up RW Lionel LaNeige and G Curt Freeze from Minnesota. Fleury has struggled badly this year, recording only 2 points in 20 games, and has been a healthy scratch in many recent games. Cantillon has posted a 2-4-2 record with a 4.04 GAA as the Igloos’ backup netminder this season. The 22-year-old LaNeige makes his SHL debut; he has recorded 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) in 32 games with Minnesota this year. Freeze, a longtime Anchorage prospect, has gone 5-11-2 with a 2.59 GAA and a .905 save percentage so far this seaosn.
- The Boston Badgers sent F Jacques Bacon and D Jackson Creed to their affiliate in Hartford, and recalled RW Felix Delorme and D Brett Stolte from Hartford. Bacon, a veteran who signed as a free agent in the offseason, has appeared in only 7 games for Boston and has yet to record a point. The Badgers are hoping that Delorme, nephew of Quebec coach Martin Delorme, can provide a spark for their stagnant offense. Delorme was a starter in the CHL All-Star Game, and has recorded 10 goals and 17 assists so far this season. The Badgers called up Creed from Hartford two and a half weeks ago; he played in 6 games and recorded an assist. Stolte, another CHL All-Star, has produced 12 goals and 13 assists so far this year.
- The Dakota Jackalopes demoted D Geoff Moultrie and promoted D Brady Prussian. Moultrie recorded 2 goals and a -2 rating in 14 games for Dakota this season; the team hopes to get him more regular playing time with their affiliate in Idaho. Prussian has produced 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) and a +13 rating with Idaho on the year.
- The Hamilton Pistols demoted D Torrey Ashmont and promoted D Russ Klemmer. Ashmont is a rookie who has struggled for ice time with the Pistols, appearing in only 9 games. He figures to start regularly with the team’s Oshawa affiliate. Klemmer, meanwhile, was a CHL All-Star; his 22 assists placed him in the league’s top ten.
- The Hershey Bliss demoted F Anton Lapointe and promoted RW James Clay. Lapointe, a capable defensive forward, has struggled to produce offensively at the SHL level; so far this year, he has produced two assists in 9 games. Clay, another CHL All-Star, led Hershey’s Milwaukee affiliate with 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists).
- The Kansas City Smoke demoted G Dennis Wampler and promoted G Eric Middleton. Kansas City’s 3.79 GAA is second-worst in the SHL, and Wampler (3-8-1, 4.06 GAA, .882 save percentage) has contributed to those woes. Middleton, an 18-year-old rookie, has thrived with the Smoke’s affiliate in Omaha, going 8-6-3 with a 2.06 GAA and a .929 save percentage.
- The Michigan Gray Wolves demoted RW Kelvin Starkey and F Cary Estabrook and promoted LW Fendrick Scanlan and RW Steve Brandon. The offensively-challenged Wolves shook up their forward depth, swapping out Starkey (1 goal in 24 games) and Estabrook (no points in 10 games) for the top two scorers (and All-Stars) with their Cleveland affiliate, Scanlan (13 goals, 10 assists) and Brandon (12 games, 10 assists).
- The New York Night demoted G Corey Franklin-Lee and recalled G Sherman Carter. This is the reverse of the transaction New York made two weeks earlier, when they sent Carter to their affiliate in Utah in order to regain his form and confidence. Carter went 4-2-1 with a 1.98 GAA and a .926 save percentage in Utah, while Franklin-Lee went 1-2-0 with a 3.00 GAA and a .925 save percentage in the Big Apple.
- The Quebec Tigres demoted C Phil Miller and promoted C Dwight Flynn. The veteran Miller has failed to produce in Quebec this season, with a mere two assists and a -10 rating in 27 games. Flynn, meanwhile, has produced at an All-Star level with Halifax this year, including 16 goals, 21 assists, and a +3 rating.
- The Saskatchewan Shockers signed D Kjell Hanson to a minor-league contract. The Shockers found themselves with a short minor-league roster after calling up D Pierre Chappelle and C Trent Harlow as injury replacements just before the All-Star break, and Hanson will help fill the void. The 24-year-Hanson started the year in the Kansas City organization, but the Smoke released him the week before the break.
- The Washington Galaxy demoted D Shane Gladchuk and promoted D Morris Starling. The rebuilding Galaxy wanted to give Starling, a CHL All-Star with Baltimore, some ice time at the SHL level. He led the with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists). Gladchuk appeared in 12 games with Washington, notching 3 assists and a -8 rating.
In recent seasons, the trend of individual goal songs has been spreading throughout hockey. Most NHL and SHL teams have an anthem that they play when their team scores, but now some teams are playing specific songs when certain players score. The Hamilton Pistols are the latest team to join that bandwagon, and it’s proven delightful to their fans… and annoying to their opponents.
The Pistols front office discussed the idea of individual goal songs during the offseason. They decided to start small, with an individual song only for their top scorer, Steven Alexander. “Alex is a generational talent, so if anyone deserves to have a special song, it’s him,” said Pistols coach Keith Shields.
After discussing the idea with Alexander and considering some possible choices, the team ultimately settled on a techno remix of “Scotland the Brave.” (Alexander is of Scottish descent.) “It was the perfect mix: distinctive, energetic, and fun,” said GM Marcel LaClaire.
The Pistols rolled out the song at the home opener, and it quickly proved to be a hit. The song’s tempo and the quirkiness of the bagpipes were an infectious and irresistible combination for the fans. Several Hamilton diehards dubbed themselves “Clan Alexander,” and now come to the arena dressed in red-and-black plaid kilts and tams, and play “air bagpipes” whenever their hero scores.
So far, so good. But the song was such a hit that the team also began playing it as a third-period rally song. The song is accompanied by a cartoon of a kilt-clad Alexander clubbing opponents to death with his hockey stick. Naturally, the fans responded raucously to the prompt, raising the decibel level within Gunpowder Armory to deafening levels. This tidal wave of noise drew the ire of Anchorage Igloos coach Sam Castor this week.
In the third period of Tuesday’s game, the Igloos trailed the Pistols 4-3, but Anchorage went on the power play with less than two minutes left and a chance to tie things up. Castor called time out to discuss strategy with his team. Unfortunately, he found himself completely drowned out by the music and the roar of the crowd. The Igloos failed to score on the ensuing power play, and wound up losing the game.
“I’m trying to get my team on the same page for a critical PK, and I can’t even hear the words coming out of my mouth,” fumed Castor after the game. “I’m used to loud music and screaming fans, but this was another level. I ought to be able to have a strategy session with my team without having to use sign language.”
Castor claimed to have measured the sound level using an app on his phone; he said that it exceeded 130 decibels, roughly the same as a jet engine during takeoff.
Initially, the team blew off the complaint. “What, are our fans cheering too loud for you?” said Shields when informed of Castor’s remarks. After talking to the league office, however, the Pistols apologized and said they would lower the volume on the song somewhat.
“We’re not wanting to deafen anybody,” said LaClaire. “We just want everybody to have a fun time. But never fear, ‘Scotland the Brave’ is here to stay.”
Coming up to the midpoint of the season, the Anchorage Igloos expected to be comfortably anchored in a playoff spot. After a dreadful start to the season, the Igloos got onto their usual hot streak, and expected to keep the positive momentum rolling right into another Western Division title. But over the last three weeks, Anchorage has gone into a slump, winning only 2 of their last 11 games. Now, at the All-Star break, the Igloos are just barely above the .500 mark. If the season ended today, they would miss the postseason for the first time since 2016.
“Obviously, we’re not playing up to our expectations right now,” said Igloos coach Sam Castor. “There are definitely some areas of our game that we need to tighten up.”
Over the last week and a half, the Western clubs have traveled to the East for the first time this season. The road trip has been a fiasco for Anchorage. It began well enough, with a 3-1 win over Boston. But they haven’t won since. Their next four games were each agonizing one-goal losses. They managed to salvage a point on Saturday by tying Quebec 2-2, but in the process, they blew a two-goal lead in the third period.
“I feel like we’re getting some good looks, but we’re not getting the puck luck,” said LW Les Collins. “It’s frustrating.”
The numbers back up Collins’ statement. They’re continuing to generate as many shots as usual, but their shooting percentage has plummeted during their recent slump. Before they hit their current skid, Anchorage was converting over 10% of their shots; in the last two weeks, they’ve managed to score on just 6.3% of them. They had been averaging 4 goals per game; it’s been almost two weeks since they’ve scored that many in a game.
Their shooting drought has been paired with a smaller but significant dip on defense; together, it adds up to their current 2-6-3 slide.
One of the chief culprits of the team’s shooting woes, C Jake Frost, has been mired in a season-long slump. Thus far, he has only 11 goals on the season, just over half as many as he had at this point last season. Not coincidentally, his shooting percentage for the year is only 9.3%, about half his normal rate. He has fewer goals than second-line center Tom Hoffman, who arrived in Anchorage as a reclamation project in the offseason.
“I don’t know what the problem is,” said Frost. “I know defenses overload on me a lot, but they always have. I’m glad that we’ve got other guys who can carry the load, but I can’t help but feel responsible for the way we’re struggling right now.”
Overall, though, the Igloos don’t seem alarmed about their current predicament. “We’re not going to hit the panic button because we’re one point out of a playoff spot at the halfway point,” said Castor. “We’ve got a battle-tested group here, and we’ve overcome tough times before. We just have to get back to playing the way we know how.”
But the young and frisky Shockers, powered by the off-kilter of their “Ministry of Fun,” don’t intend to make it easy on the Igloos. The second half is shaping up to be an epic battle.
- Anchorage Igloos co-owner Colin Mills on Twitter, honoring Igloos RW Broni Zhlotkin, who recorded his first career three-goal game in Thursday’s 8-2 rout of Hamilton