For the week, Valentine recorded 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) with a +8 rating. His best performance occurred on Sunday, when he scored 4 goals and added an assist in the Bliss’ 8-3 thrashing of Washington. Valentine finished the season third in the SHL in points (79) and fourth in goals (38). His +30 rating was tied for the league’s best with his “Love Line” running partner, LW Lance Sweet.
“Justin reminds me of a good dark chocolate bar with a sprinkle of sea salt on top,” said coach Chip Barber. “You go in expecting just sweetness, but then you take a bite, and it’s a lot more complex and well-rounded than you imagined. It’s the same thing with Justin. On the surface, you see a good-looking scorer, and you think that’s all there is. But then you watch him play and you see the passing touch, the defensive strength, the willingness to work hard. He’s just such a gift to the team.”
The SHL selected Hershey Bliss D Reese Milton as its Player of the Week. The Bliss nosed back into playoff position this week, and Milton played a leading role in Hershey’s success. The All-Star blueliner recorded 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists), 9 blocks, and a +5 rating on the week. Milton is a strong contributor on both ends, as attested by the fact that he’s eighth in the SHL in assists (with 44) and second in blocks (with 141).
On Sunday, Milton had 2 assists and 4 blocks as the Bliss beat Boston 7-4. On Tuesday, he had a goal and an assist in a 3-3 tie with Quebec, the team they’re battling for a playoff spot. In Thursday’s game against Hamilton, Milton had another goal and assist, along with 2 blocks. And on Sunday, the blueliner had his best game of the week, with 2 goals, 3 assists, and 3 blocks as the Bliss rolled to a 6-3 win.
“One of these days, the rest of the league is going to wake up and recognize just how great Reeser is,” said Bliss coach Chip Barber. “The fact that he’s never won Defenseman of the Year is beyond me. I’d take him over any other blueliner in the league, bar none.”
The SHL selected Quebec Tigres G Riki Tiktuunen as its Player of the Week. The Tigres had an undefeated week, going 3-0-1 to move into a playoff spot in the East, and Tiktuunen’s performance in net played a key role in Quebec’s success. For the week, the Finnish-born goalie went 2-0-1 with a 1.55 GAA and a .952 save percentage.
All three of Tiktuunen’s starts this week went to overtime. On Sunday, he stopped 39 shots as Quebec played to a 1-1 tie with league-leading Portland. On Tuesday, Tiktuunen made 35 saves as the Tigres knocked off Anchorage 4-3 in extra time. Then on Thursday, Tiktuunen turned aside 26 shots and Quebec notched a literal last-second victory over Washington, 2-1.
“As the season goes on, Riki is more and more playing up to his greatness,” said Tigres coach Martin Delorme. “If we make it to the playoffs, Riki gives us a chance to win any game.”
The SHL selected Boston Badgers C Alain Beauchesne as its Player of the Week. The Badgers had a strong week, going 3-0-1, and Beauchesne’s brilliant performance was a key part of their success. For the week, the center recorded 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists). Beauchesne now has 25 goals on the season, which ties him for seventh the the SHL.
On Sunday, Beauchesne had a goal and an assist in the Badgers’ three-goal third period to knock off Anchorage, 4-2. On Tuesday – the night of the Pizza Riot – Beauchesne had a pair of assists as Boston beat Portland 4-0. And on Saturday, the center had a four-point day (1 goal, 3 assists) in the Badgers’ 6-2 thrashing of Kansas City.
“I think Boosh is really blossoming lately,” said Badgers coach Kyle Barrow. “He’s always been an enormous talent, but as we’ve been adding guys, we’ve really unlocked him. He’s got teammates who can keep up with him, and now he’s really going to become a force in the league.”