Shockers Set SHL Record with 11-Goal Game

There’s no denying that it’s been another long season for the Saskatchewan Shockers.  They fell out of contention from almost the beginning of the season, and they were mathematically eliminated with almost three weeks left.  They unleashed yet another disastrous promotion on their fans, this time a poorly designed kids’ activity book.  Until this week, perhaps the most notable event of Saskatchewan’s season was when one of their players accidentally set fire to the locker room.

That all changed on Friday, as the Shockers finally delivered a season highlight worth celebrating.  They may be having a season to forget, but Friday was a game to remember, as Saskatchewan set a new SHL record for goals in a game in an 11-5 thumping of the Dakota Jackalopes.

“We sure know how to deliver excitement, huh?” said Shockers coach Myron Beasley with a huge grin.  “You saw more goals in this game than you’d see in a week watching Michigan or Anchorage.  You want fun, come see us!”

C Elliott Rafferty pointed out that Saskatchewan had scored 11 despite the fact that no player managed a hat trick.  “That’s a testament to the kind of depth we have here,” the center said.  Rafferty, C Napoleon Beasley, and D Dick Bradshaw each scored two goals, while LW Troy Chamberlain, D Wyatt Barnes, RW Brad Stevens, D Ed Francis, and RW Andrew “Lucky” Fortuno got one apiece.

The game was not a blowout at the beginning; at the end of the first period, the score stood 4-3.  The Shockers peppered Dakota goalie Buzz Carson, but the Jackalopes fired 19 shots at Oliver Richardson and put three behind him.  In the second period, Saskatchewan blew it open, scoring five unanswered goals and sending Carson to the showers.

The Shockers came into the third chasing history, but it seems that no one was aware of it.  The PA announcer made no mention of it, and the fans and benches seemed equally unaware.  Eight and a half minutes into the period, Chamberlain snapped a shot past new Dakota netminder Christen Adamsson for Saskatchewan’s tenth goal, tying the SHL record, first set by Dakota against the Shockers last season.   Five minutes later, Barnes buried a rebound to set a new record.  The crowd roared its approval, but again, no mention was made of the new record.

It wasn’t until after the game, when a journalist who had looked up the record asked about it, that the Shockers discovered what they had done.  “Hey, we’re famous!” shouted Beasley when informed of the record.  “That’s really cool.  Now we’ll be able to go to the record books and point and say, ‘Hey, I was part of that.'”

“This team is more dangerous than people think,” said Rafferty, who had two assists in the game in addition to his pair of goals.  “We’ve got some real snipers here.  We’re a young team and we’re still learning, but games like this show what we’re capable of.”

Heinz Doofenshmirtz

Owner Heinz Doofenschmirtz, whose passion for his team is well-known around the league, was ecstatic with his team’s performance.  The owner reportedly came into the locker room after the game and gave each player an $1,100 bonus check in recognition of the record-setting performance.  “I believe he’s doing a few laps around the ceiling about now,” said Beasley.

For the Shockers, the game was a welcome bright spot in an unremarkable year.  For the Jackalopes, it was yet another reminder of a season gone wrong.  Small-market Dakota spent heavily in the offseason to build a team that could contend for a title.  Instead, the Jackalopes have turned in another so-so season, and ownership has signaled that they intend to cut payroll next season.

Jackalopes coach Harold Engellund, whose job is reportedly in jeopardy, responded wearily to news of Saskatchewan’s record-setting performance.  “Well, congratulations to them,” said Engellund.  “They’re a team on the rise and they deserve it.  But that’s not a record you really want to be part of, not on the other end.  If this is what we’re remembered for this year, that’s not too good.”

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Shockers Screw Up Another Promo With Error-Filled Kids’ Book

The Saskatchewan Shockers, to put it mildly, have had a rough time coming up with successful promotions.  In 2015, there was Japanese Night, in which the team started a sumo wrestler in goal; the result was an awkward embarrassment.  Last season, there was the Kazoo Night fiasco; that game nearly turned into a riot, with fans chucking malfunctioning kazoos onto the ice.

This season, the Shockers decided to try a simpler, less dangerous promotion: Kids Night.  In an effort to draw in younger fans, the Shockers offered discountered tickets for fans 12 and under.  In addition, they raffled off the opportunity for kids to work in a variety of positions, including on public address announcer, in-game entertainment crew member, usher, reporter, and ceremonial first puck dropper.  To cap it all off, the team offered a giveaway: a Shockers-themed activity/puzzle book.

The day itself largely went off without a hitch.  The PA announcer repeatedly mangled the name of LW Tadeusz Adamczyk, and the puck dropper accidentally flung the biscuit onto the bench instead of dropping it on the ice, but otherwise things went smoothly.

The trouble started when the kids got home and started looking at their activity books.  The book was riddled with errors and problems.  For instance, the word search was missing several of the terms that kids were supposed to find, and the grid spelled out multiple curse words.  The scramble that was supposed to contain the names of Shockers players instead contained strings of letters that didn’t spell anything.  Multiple pages were printed upside down, and the page that was supposed to list the answers was missing entirely.

Irate parents took to social media to vent their displeasure with the book.  “My kid cried for 45 minutes bc he couldnt get the word scramble right,” said one fan.  “Turns out it was all garbage, like this team!!”  Another highlighted the obscenities in the word search and tweeted, “So I guess u think this is ‘appropriate’ 2 give 2 kids???”  The Shockers initially claimed that “some fans” might have received misprinted copies, but it quickly became clear that all of the books contained the errors and omissions.

Heinz Doofenshmirtz

It turns out that, rather than hiring a professional company to design and print the books, team owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz outsourced the job to a relative who “wants to make kid’s books someday.”  He never provided proofs of the work before printing, and the Saskatchewan front office apparently never asked for any.  Nor did they check the finished books before handing them out.

“Yeah, we had a few problems there,” said Doofenshmirtz.  “The one time I really needed a self-destruct button, we didn’t have one.  How ironic.”

The Shockers have destroyed all remaining copies of the book, and are reportedly looking for a way to compensate the children who may have been upset or traumatized by the event.  “I was going to put a bouncy castle on the roof of our arena and let the kids play on it,” said Doofenshmirtz.  “But it turns out there are some liability issues with that, and our insurance company dropped us after the whole Kazoo Night thing.  So we’re working on it.”

At least one person from the Shockers had no problem with the promotion.  “I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” quipped coach Myron Beasley.  “I found the word search very educational.”

Shockers’ Practice Arena Damaged by Fire

The Saskatchewan Shockers will need to find another venue for their practice skates for the next several weeks, as the locker room at their practice facility was badly damaged by a fire.  The culprits: Shockers C Foster Culp — and a microwave burrito.

The Shockers held their usual off-day practice Thursday morning at Harbour Landing Arena. During a break in between sessions, Culp decided to microwave a couple of breakfast burritos he’d purchased at a nearby restaurant on the way in.  “I always get a little peckish in between skates,” Culp explained later, “so I always make sure to get myself a little something-something to snack on.”

Foster Culp

One problem with Culp’s otherwise sound plan: The burritos were wrapped in aluminum foil, which the center neglected to remove before turning the microwave on.  Presumably, the foil began sparking, and the sparks landed on the inner paper wrapper around the burritos, causing them to catch fire.

Not that Culp noticed; he’d set the microwave and wandered off to find a drink.  But a few minutes later, he thought he smelled something burning and returned to the microwave, to discover that it had become a ball of fire.  He stared at it, transfixed, but took no action as the fire began to spread to the counter on which the microwave sat.

At that point, RW Brad Stevens noticed either the smell or the smoke and went over to examine the situation.  He saw Culp staring at the conflagration and said, “Dude, fire!”  Culp responded, “Yeah, I know.”

Stevens tried again: “Dude, put it out!”  Culp said, “Uh, with what?  I don’t have a hose.”  Stevens pointed at the fire extinguisher on the wall and said, “Use that, stupid!”

Culp snapped out of his trance, ran to the wall, and grabbed the extinguisher.  But rather than point it at the fire and start spraying, Culp took the extinguisher and hurled it at the fire.  Unsurprisingly, this had no effect.

By the time G Zeke Zagurski grabbed another extinguisher and brought it over to the scene, the fire had spread to the adjoining wall and the team was forced to evacuate the area.  The fire department had to be called in, and by the time they extinguished the blaze, the locker room had suffered an estimated $250,000 in damage.

When asked about the incident, coach Myron Beasley put his hand over his face and sighed.  “Foster… he’s a piece of work, he really is,” said Beasley.  “I don’t know if he got dropped on his head a lot as a kid or what.  But he thinks… different than you and I do.”

Culp was chagrined by his mistake.  “Obviously. knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t do that again,” said Culp.  “But I needed those burritos!  Who hasn’t needed a burrito from time to time?”

Shockers Host a Wild Home Opener

The Saskatchewan Shockers are in a difficult spot entering the 2017 SHL season.  By all accounts, Saskatchewan doesn’t have the talent to contend in the West; they’re an up-and-coming team, but they still have a long way to go.  Playing in one of the league’s smallest markets, the Shockers also struggle at times with attendance, and the team’s attempts at splashy promotions have too often gone awry.

Heinz Doofenshmirtz

So when Shockers owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz promised “a really spectacular spectacle” for the team’s home opener against the Anchorage Igloos, many fans held their breath and tried to imagine what might go wrong.  Would the ceremony wind up injuring a star player?  Would Doofenshmirtz accidentally burn the arena down?  The mind reeled at the possibilities.

But the Shockers defied the ill omens and put on a show that, while long and over-the-top, was free of calamity.  “This is it!” crowed the Shockers owner afterward.  “Now we’re going to take over the entire SHL!”

Shortly before the scheduled puck drop, the lights went out at Potash Arena.  At first, nervous fans believed that there might have been a power failure.  But their worries were dispelled when multi-colored spotlights began flashing around the arena, and the sound of thunder filled the arena.  Soon thereafter, the familiar opening strains of “Burn It to the Ground” by Nickelback echoed over the PA system.  The fans began clapping and cheering as a phalanx of skaters wearing Shockers jerseys and waving Canadian flag began to circle the ice.  Soon, they were joined by a kick line of women in old-fashioned Vegas showgirl costumes, which only increased the cheers.

But then the fans’ eyes were drawn skyward, as a large platform began to descend from the roof of the arena.  On the platform was a golden ram’s head with glowing red eyes; flames shot upward from the corners of the platform.  Suddenly, a ’57 Chevy convertible emerged from the ram’s mouth, driven by Doofenshmirtz, who was clad in a leather jacket with a pompadour rising from his head.  Doofenshmirtz drove the Chevy out onto center ice (narrowly missing the showgirls), popped out, and waved to the crowd.

Sparky

Doofenshmirtz then pointed dramatically back toward the ram’s head, and out skated the Shockers’ new mascot, Sparky.  Sparky, an anthropomorphic lightning bolt in team colors, took a couple laps around the ice and tossed candy necklaces to the crowd.  Some of the children seated near the ice appeared to be frightened by Sparky, but they were soon mollified by the candy.

An inflatable slide then unfurled, connecting the ram’s-head platform to the club level of the arena.  The Shockers players slid down one at a time from the club level and came out through the ram’s head, to the crowd’s rapturous approval.

Finally, Doofenshmirtz opened the trunk of his convertible and out popped the members of Nickelback themselves.  They mounted the platform and proceeded to blast their way through a hard-rock rendition of “O, Canada.”

After the anthem was complete, the fans roared deliriously as the Shockers’ in-game entertainment crew fanned out along the catwalks on the roof and flung T-shirts and caps onto the masses below.  Doofenshmirtz and Nickleback hopped back into the Chevy and drove off the ice, and the ram’s head rose back to the roof.

Shockers fan Howie Crawford of Regina summed the ceremony up aptly: “I don’t really know what was going on, but it was a lot of fun.”

The visiting Igloos (who wound up winning the game 3-0) were reportedly unhappy about the length of the ceremony, which delayed the start of the game by almost 40 minutes.  But the fans left happy, and for Doofenshmirtz, that’s what really matters.

“Behold!” crowed the Shockers owner after the game.  “We actually had a successful event for a change.  Now, what can I do to top this next time?  Maybe I can fly a jet around the arena, or I can have the team enter through a ring of fire, or…”

SHL 2017 Season Preview – West

Michigan Gray Wolves

The defending SHL champions return largely intact for the 2017 season.  They lost only one significant contributor in D Patrick Banks, who went to Washington in free agency (rookie Brooks Zabielski takes over Banks’ spot in the third pairing).  But the loss of Banks should be offset by the arrival of LW Todd Douglas, bumping struggling Travis Gauss to the bench.  While their offense – particularly LW Vladimir Beruschko – showed some signs of age last season, the Wolves’ dominant defense and the peerless goaltending of Dirk “The Bear” Lundquist remain as strong as ever.  And it seems unlikely that coach Ron Wright will let the team rest on its laurels.  So what could slow them down?  The West is a tough division; Anchorage and Dakota should put up strong challenges.  But the biggest risk this team faces is injury, particularly to Lundquist.  If their star netminder goes down for any extended period, is rookie Brooks Copeland up to the job?  The Wolves hope they won’t have to find out.

 

Anchorage Igloos

The Igloos have made no secret of their desire to get back to the form that won them the 2015 SHL title.  Have they made the progress they needed?  It’s possible.  The biggest new addition is LW Ben Summers, a 10-goal scorer with New York last season.  He replaced Misha Petronov, whom the Igloos let go after a disappointing season.  But Anchorage’s fortunes are likely to hinge on the performance of their youngsters and their stars.  The Igloos are moving LW Les Collins, who had a breakout 35-point season in 2016, up the second line; they’re depending on him continuing to blossom as a scorer.  Their third defensive pairing is also new, combining rookie Tony Citrone with Sebastian Pomfret, who looked solid in limited action last year.  If those three have strong seasons, Anchorage should do well.  But their title chances likely rest on the shoulder of sniper Jake Frost.  Last season, Frost put up 45 goals, which would be a fine year for most players but an off year by Frost’s standards.  Since he is the key to Anchorage’s offense, a return to his typical output would make the Igloos dangerous.  If he has another off season, they’re likely to come up short again.

 

Dakota Jackalopes

For 2017, the Jackalopes have a new name (they changed from the Rapids) and a number of new faces.  After a couple disappointing seasons falling well short of contention, Dakota’s hoping that combination will be enough to help them catch up with the Western powers.  They did more to improve themselves than any other contender, adding C Mike Rivera via trade and D Rusty Anderson in free agency.  They also acquired D Scott Hexton from Hershey to make their defense that much stouter.  While the Jackalopes will always be an offense-first club, they’re arguably stronger on both sides of the puck than they’ve ever been.  If they were in the weaker East, Dakota would be at least a co-favorite to win the division.  This is the West, though.  If there’s an area where the Jackalopes may come up short, it’s between the pipes.  They’re relying on a pair of young goalies, Buzz Carson and Christien Adamsson.  Carson, the likely starter, had an impressive rookie season in 2016, and clearly improved as the season went on.  But nobody considers Carson to be in the same class as Michigan’s Lundquist or Anchorage’s Ty Worthington.  If Dakota finishes out of the money yet again, they may wind up ruing the day the front office ran Jesse Clarkson out of town.  But if Carson can take another step forward, the Jackalopes’ high-octane offense would make them a dangerous team.

 

Saskatchewan Shockers

Last season was a tale of two halves for the Shockers.  In the first 30 games, the fine goaltending of Zeke Zagurski and the scoring punch of rookie winger Troy Chamberlain had Saskatchewan hovering around the .500 mark and attracting notice as a young team on the rise.  The second half saw a dramatic fall from grace, as the Shockers lost 11 of their final 13 games and 23 of their last 30, and the team suffered a string of embarrassing personnel incidents that suggested a franchise coming apart at the seams.  The team improved in the offseason, drafting C Elliott Rafferty and trading for veteran G Oliver Richardson to back up Zagurski.  But the Shockers clearly lag far behind the contenders, with a subpar offense and a mediocre defense.  As a result, there are far more questions than answers headed into 2017.  Is coach Myron Beasley’s job in jeopardy if the Shockers stumble out of the gate, or fade in the second half again?  Can the front office get its act together and run the team in a more professional manner?  Can the team’s slow but steady building plan ever lift Saskatchewan into contention?  Should they consider dealing Zagurski and other veterans and go for a hard rebuild?  Can the team last in Saskatoon, or will owner Heinz Doofenshmirtz be forced to relocate?  Will the team ever abandon its bizarre yellow-and-seafoam color scheme?  Can this team ever be a real contender, or will they forever be a poorly-run, mistake-prone joke?  It’s hard to know what the future holds for this truly strange team, but it’s safe to expect that there won’t be a ton of wins this season.

 

Seattle Sailors

The Sailors had a rough inaugural season, looking weak on both ends of the ice.  Their star rookie, RW Vince Mango, turning in a disappointing campaign, scoring only 33 goals and lacking the explosive shot that made him such a highly-regarded prospect.  The Sailors are likely to finish last again, so the 2017 season is all about showing signs of growth.  The team defied expectations to draft LW Rod “Money” Argent with the top pick in the draft; Seattle hopes that he’ll add some scoring punch to the top line and force opposing defenses to stop overloading on Mango.  The Sailors will be eager to see progress from Mango, Argent, and D Benny Lambert.  In a surprising signing, they added D Timothy “Cyclone” Winston to bolster their leaky blueline corps; the defense is still nowhere near Michigan’s level, but it should be better.  Last season, goalie Rocky Goldmire struggled and looked shell-shocked at times; a stronger defense should help him get more comfortable in the crease.  If Seattle’s going to become a contender down the road, they’ll need to see their young core come together and take a step forward.  They’ll also need to decide if volatile coach Stewart “Popeye” Corrigan has the temperament to be a leader of men.  Sailors fans should try not to fixate on the win-loss record this season; instead they should watch to see if they have a solid foundation for the future.