- 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.
According to New York Night GM Jay McKay, letting LW Misha Petronov leave in free agency was his biggest mistake. Petronov spent three seasons in New York, but after a mildly disappointing 2019 season, the Night allowed him to walk away and sign a 2-year, $2 million contract with the Michigan Gray Wolves. But Petronov rebounded toward his career norms in Michigan, while New York has badly missed his production on the wing. So McKay reversed his mistake on Wednesday, re-acquiring Petronov from the Wolves, along with F Cary Estabrook and D Brandon Arrowood, in exchange for LW Flynn Danner, F Henry Constantine, and D Anson Brank.
‘We knew we wanted some help on the second line,” said McKay. “And we talked about a number of guys, but in the end I kept coming back to Misha. He’s a guy we know and he’s a good fit for our team, so why not bring him back? Then it was just a matter of making the salaries work.”
In 42 games with the Wolves, Petronov put up 31 points (9 goals, 22 assists) and a team-leading +12 rating. He has generally been less involved on the defensive end and along the boards, which made him a somewhat awkward fit in Michigan’s style of play, but suits New York’s run-and-gun approach perfectly.
McKay said that the winger will slot right back into his old slot on the second line, beside C Rod Remington and RW Ivan “Trainwreck” Trujwirnek. “I am glad to be back with my old friends,” said Petronov. “It will be just like my former times again.”
Along with Petronov, the Night acquired a couple young players with potential upside. The 25-year-old Estabrook was the first player signed by the Boston Badgers. He has struggled to convert on his potential in the SHL, due both to the lingering effects of a knee injury he suffered in college and his struggles with alcohol and conditioning. He signed with Michigan in the offseason, and clashed with then-coach Ron Wright virtually from the beginning. He appeared in only 10 games with the Wolves, failing to record a point, and then he was banished to the minors. McKay said that Estabrook would be assigned to New York’s farm team in Utah initially, but he would be called up before the end of the season.
“We believe that Cary has a lot to offer this club,” McKay told reporters, “And I’m a big believer in second chances, and Cary deserves one.”
Arrowood, meanwhile, is a 24-year-old offensive-minded defenseman. He has shown a consistent scoring touch in the minors, but his deficiencies on the defensive end have prevented him from earning a call-up to the majors.
In exchange, New York gave up a pair of prospects that should aid the Wolves as they move into a rebuilding phase. Danner is a 24-year-old winger who has produced regular 50-point seasons in the minors. He made his SHL debut this season and produced promising results, with 13 points (7 goals, 6 assists) and a +6 rating in 28 games with New York. He showed some upside on defense as well, with 23 blocks.
“Flynn checks a lot of the boxes we’re looking for,” said Michigan GM Tim Carrier. “He’s a strong 200-foot skater, he can create his own shot, and he puts in good effort on defense.”
Brank, meanwhile, is a 20-year-old blueliner who was drafted by the Night two years ago. He lost a position battle in training camp, but he produced strong numbers in Utah, putting up 22 points (5 goals, 17 assists) in 41 games.
Michigan also adds Constantine, a veteran on an expiring contract who can play any forward position. He should be able to fill in an provide some short-term offensive help for the Wolves.
While the Wolves are looking to the long term, the Night are focused on the present. McKay came up with a typically creative trade to bolster their offense. Given the crowded playoff picture in the East, however, the GM will need to hope that neither Danner nor Brank gives him a reason to regret this deal down the road.
At this point, it’s well-known around the league that the Hamilton Pistols and New York Night don’t like each other. The teams have been feuding for multiple seasons. The rivalry was initially sparked and furiously stoked by Night coach Nick Foster. The New York organization has also played its part in kindling the dislike, particularly during last season’s “Canada Night” promotion. The Pistols have lobbed their own barbed remarks and occasionally gotten physical, but have generally preferred to let their play do the talking. Foster’s recent jabs at the team’s new mascot, however, seem to have crossed the line, and the Pistols finally went after the New York coach and his team in a memorable in-game skit.
The Pistols debuted Crosscheck, a friendly orange creature, as their new mascot about a month into the season. Foster saw it for the first time shortly before the All-Star break, and wasted no time making fun of it. Foster called Crosscheck a “freaky inbred Teletubby” and claimed that it represents a typical Pistols fan, because “it’s fat, missing most of its teeth, and it looks like its family tree is a straight line.” Pistols fans and players alike were outraged by Foster’s insults, and the team decided to respond in kind.
The Night came to Hamilton on Saturday, and the fans filled the air with boos when Foster’s name was mentioned during the pregame lineup announcements. Before the opening puck drop, the Pistols dimmed the lights and cued up a video on the Jumbotron. It began with some clips of Foster’s descriptions of the Hamilton mascot. Then, after a pause, it showed Crosscheck sitting in the office of owner Cory Blackwood, Jr. The owner assured Crosscheck, “Listen, whatever you want to do, the organization is behind you. I think it’s time you got even.”
The video then showed a series of clips of Hamilton players beating up New York players, interspersed with shots of Crosscheck venting his frustrations. In one scene, he threw darts at a picture of Foster’s face. In another, he went after a punching bag with Foster’s picture taped to it. In yet another, he played a special version of Whack-A-Mole where all the “moles” were made to look like the Night coach’s head. The whole sequence was scored to Loretta Lynn’s 1968 country classic “Fist City.” The fans laughed and cheered throughout; even some of New York’s players appeared to be watching with evident amusement.
Finally, after the video was complete, Crosscheck came charging out on the ice, wearing boxing trunks and gloves. He stopped in front of the Night bench, waved his fists around, and pointed at Foster, challenging the Night bench boss to a throwdown. Foster responded by laughing and blowing kisses, while the fans booed. Adding injury to insult, the Pistols proceeded to shut out the Night 3-0 during the game, with backup netminder Ron Mason stopping all 42 New York shots.
“I loved it!” said Foster after the game. “The freaky Teletubby earned my respect out there today. It might not be too bright, but it knows how to stand up for itself. Again, I’d say that the weirdo seemed like a typical Pistols fan, except that it seemed to be basically sober.”
The Pistols, naturally, dubbed Foster a coward for declining Crosscheck’s invitation to fight. “Crosscheck called [Foster] out like a man, or whatever it is,” said LW Steven Alexander. “And Foster had a chance to back up his mouth with some action, but of course he wouldn’t do it. I wish I was surprised. Crosscheck is ten times the man that Foster is, and Crosscheck’s not even a man.”
One thing’s for certain: the Pistols are clearly not inclined to take Foster’s insults lying down. Will the Night respond in kind the next time Hamilton visits the Big Apple? As angry as this rivalry already is, it could be heading for an even greater level of hatred.
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.
New York Night coach Nick Foster is a master at using verbal jabs to stir up rivalries with opposing teams and players. Over the last couple of seasons, he has trained the bulk of his rhetorical fire on the Hamilton Pistols, turning that rivalry into one of the league’s most heated.
The two squads faced off again on Sunday, and after a 2-2 tie, Foster took the opportunity in his postgame press conference to open up another front in his verbal war against his opponents from the north: he mocked the Pistols’ new mascot, Crosscheck.
The Pistols originally planned for Crosscheck to debut at the beginning of this season. After they won the Vandy last year, though, Hamilton’s front office shifted their early promotions to focus on celebrating the team’s title. The new mascot – a rather unusual-looking orange creature clad in a Pistols jersey – finally took its bow late last month. It’s received mixed reviews so far; some fans find it fun and cheerful, while others seem to consider it creepy.
Foster’s first exposure to Crosscheck occurred during Sunday’s game, and he wasted no time opening fire on the new mascot. “So I look up at the scoreboard for a second, and suddenly I’m staring at this freaky inbred Teletubby,” Foster told reporters. “At first I thought I must be hallucinating, but I rubbed my eyes and it was still there. I asked [assistant coach] Biff [Lombardi] if he saw it too, and he did, so it must be real.”
After bugging out his eyes in mock shock, Foster continued. “Now, I know Halloween isn’t for another eight months, so what the hell is this? Are they trying to scare kids, or get the adults to throw up in the aisles? I know I’m scarred for life: I’m going to see his one extra-wide tooth in my sleep.
“I finally figured it out, though,” the New York coach concluded. “This… thing is supposed to represent Hamilton’s fans! Think about it: It’s fat, missing most of its teeth, and it looks like its family tree is a straight line. Just like your typical Pistols fan! It must be like looking in a mirror for them. So now I get it.”
In the wake of Foster’s barbs, the Pistols and their fans rushed to Crosscheck’s defense. “Crosscheck is one of us,” said coach Keith Shields. “Crosscheck is all about fun and love of hockey, and certainly deserves better than Foster’s insults and cruelty. If you insult any member of the Pistols family – whether it’s a player, a fan, or a mascot – you have to answer to all of us.”
Added LW Steven Alexander, “Crosscheck might be ugly, but it’s better to be ugly on the outside than ugly on the inside.”
Hamilton’s fans have bombarded social media with memes and posts supporting Crosscheck and attacking Foster. “I think perhaps we owe our gratitude to Coach Foster,” said Pistols GM Marcel LaClaire. “He has done more to unite our fan base behind our new mascot than anyone ever could. For this, I am thankful.”
- On Sunday, the New York Night announced that D Ed Francis, who had been playing for their minor-league affiliate in Utah, will miss the rest of the season. The 30-year-old Francis suffered a severely broken leg during last Saturday’s game against Minnesota, an injury so severe that it required surgery to reconstruct the leg. In the wake of the injury, Francis announced that he would retire from hockey. (Story here.) To replace Francis on the roster, the Night signed D Gustaf Bergstrom for the rest of the season. Bergstrom recently played a 10-game stint in Halifax, where he recorded a goal and six assists.
- On Friday, the Washington Galaxy traded LW Casey Thurman to the Boston Badgers in exchange for LW Marty “Fish” Pescatelli, D Kermit Kaufman, and a first-round draft pick. (Story here.) In related moves, Boston demoted LW Norris Young to their CHL affiliate in Hartford and promoted D Jackson Creed from Hartford. They also signed D Gerry Michaud to a minor-league deal.
- On Friday, the Night demoted G Sherman Carter to their CHL affiliate in Utah and promoted G Corey Franklin-Lee from Utah. Carter, expected to be New York’s top starter in the next, has been atrocious so far this season. Despite compiling a 5-5-1 record, he has put up a 5.75 GAA and an .861 save percentage. The 20-year-old Franklin-Lee makes his first appearance on an SHL roster; with Utah this season, he has gone 9-4-2 with a 2.82 GAA and a .905 save percentage.
- On Saturday, the Quebec Tigres placed D Kevin Buchanan on the injured list. The veteran blueliner has been plagued by injuries this season; he missed 10 games with an upper-body injury earlier this season. It is unknown whether this latest setback, suffered in the second period of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Hershey, is an aggravation of his prior injury or a new one. To replace Buchanan on the roster, Quebec recalled D Hampus Olsson from their CHL affiliate in Halifax. Olsson was sent down two weeks ago when Buchanan returned from his prior IL stint; he spent 9 games in the minors, recording 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists). To fill Olsson’s roster spot in Halifax, the Tigres signed veteran D Igor Shovshenkov.
“I can’t talk to you guys right now. I need some space to experience my feelings.”
- New York Night coach Nick Foster, declining a postgame interview after losing 7-2 to Hershey on Thursday