Quebec Coach in Hot Water After Late-Night Escapades

This year has been a struggle for Quebec Tigres coach Martin Delorme.  His team’s ambitions have been undone by goalie Riki Tiktuunen‘s struggles to stay healthy; they’re likely to finish with a record barely better than last year.  In midseason, Delorme engaged in a public spat with star winger Stephane Mirac.  The coach, who was hailed as a savior when he agreed to coach the expansion Tigres last season, is starting to hear jeers from impatient fans.

Martin Delorme

Delorme’s season took a major turn for the worse this week as he was arrested for drunk driving, an embarrassment that only got worse when his arrest led to the revelation of the coach’s messy personal life.

The arrest happened early Monday morning, a few hours after the Tigres’ 1-0 overtime victory over Hershey at Centre Citadelle.  Delorme was pulled over in the village of Saint-Anselme around 4 AM after he was spotted driving erratically.  He failed the field sobriety tests and blew 0.14 on the Breathalyzer.  The coach was also noted to be disheveled, a rarity for him, and was wearing s suit jacket and undershirt, but no shirt.  Delorme was arrested and held overnight before being released.

“It was very poor judgment on my part,” said Delorme.  “I am ashamed of my actions.”

Little did Delorme realize that the arrest would be only the beginning of his problems.  Reporters found the incident odd for a number of reasons.  For one thing, Delorme does not have a reputation as a big drinker.  For another, Saint-Anselme is not located anywhere near the coach’s home or the team’s facilities.  For another, “Martin wouldn’t leave the house unless he was perfectly dressed,” in the words of one reporter.  “Clearly, something weird was going on.”

To get to the bottom of it, reporters began trying to reconstruct Delorme’s activities after the game.  With some investigative work, they were able to piece together a timeline.  After the game and his postgame interviews, Delorme was seen leaving the arena with a woman not his wife.  (The coach’s wife has not been seen at games for most of the season.)  Later, Delorme and the woman were seen together at a bar in Levis, across the river from Quebec.  Later, the pair went back to the woman’s house, where they apparently stayed until the woman’s husband arrived home unexpectedly.  At that point, the coach fled and drove away, until he was pulled over a short distance away.

Stories about Delorme’s wild night broke on Wednesday, shortly before the Tigres’ game against Hamilton.  The coach reacted angrily when questioned about his activities.  “This is none of your concern,” Delorme snapped.  “This is not news; nothing but gossip.  What job is it of yours to examine my bedsheets?  I do not have to respond to this inquisition.”

Quebec players were hesitant to discuss the incident.  “It’s definitely a surprise, that’s for sure,” said LW Stellan Fisker.  “We wer all pretty shocked.  I don’t really know the details, so there’s not a lot I can say.  But it’s a tough break for Coach Delorme.”

Word of the incident traveled fast.  When the Tigres came to Washington on Friday to play the Galaxy, the Jumbotron displayed Delorme behind the bench while “Loverboy” by Billy Ocean blared over the speakers as the fans laughed and cheered.  After the game, a 3-2 Quebec win, Delorme called the stunt “unprofessional,” but had no further comment.

Galaxy coach Rodney Reagle couldn’t resist poking fun at the incident in his postgame press conference.  “Boy, Martin’s got himself in a mess, hasn’t he?”  said Reagle with a giggle.  “I wouldn’t have expected that out of him.  He seems like a careful sort of guy.  But I guess that’s how it goes with French guys, right?  That swingin’ lifestyle… Personally, as a married man, I’m really surprised.  I mean, I can’t even get dressed in the morning without my wife’s help.  If I was going to have an affair, I’d probably have to ask her to help me set it up.”

New York Holds Unique Top Hat Giveaway

Suffice it to say, it’s been a tough year for the New York Night and their fans.  The team is languishing in the basement of the East, attendance has generally been lackluster, their star player got suspended after getting beat up in a bar fight, and their most notable promotion turned into a fiasco when a disgruntled employee stole the team’s shipment of fidget spinners.  “I knew it was going to a rocky year,” said Night coach Nick Foster, “but I didn’t think it was going to be this rocky.”

In the season’s penultimate week, though, the Night pulled off a successful and distinctive promotion: Top Hat Night.  That’s right, during Saturday night’s game against Quebec at Neon Sky Center, the Night gave away top hats to their fans.

According to GM Royce McCormick, he got the inspiration for the promotion after seeing a wave of fedora giveaways, especially among baseball teams.  “So my first thought was to do a fedora night, maybe tie it in with a Sinatra theme or do a Rat Pack thing,” said McCormick.  “But the more I thought about it, I realized that the fedora thing’s been done.  Why copy what everyone else is doing if you can be original?”

So McCormick thought about how he could do a more original giveaway.  “That’s when I thought of top hats,” the GM said.  “I mean, this is the Big Apple!  Why not do something with a little extra class?”

Definitely an unorthodox concept.  And unlike with fedoras, most people don’t wear top hats on an everyday basis.  But McCormick’s brainstorm proved popular: the game was a sellout, and the fans wore their hats with pride.  “When I was a kid, I always wanted a hat like this,” said 43-year-old Douglas Grossi of Queens.  “I always wanted to be a magician, and now I can dress like one!”

Ten lucky fans received more than just a hat.  Between the second and third periods, the PA announcer asked fans to check the lining of their hats.  Some had a false bottom; beneath it was a Night T-shirt and a gift certificate for a free tuxedo rental from Mens Wearhouse.  “My original plan was to hide rabbits inside the hats,” said McCormick, “but somebody pointed out that they’d probably die in there with no food or water.  Instead, we gave a few lucky fans the chance to complete the look so they can go out on the town in style.”

Foster proved to be a fan of the giveaway; he did his postgame press conference wearing the top hat with a big cigar in his mouth.  “It’s not too often in this life that you have the chance to be the Monopoly man,” Foster told reporters.  “So when you get that kind of opportunity, you have to grab it.”

Unfortunately, the Night couldn’t deliver a win to go with the hats, falling to the Tigres 5-2.  But the fans didn’t seem to care.  “I was just glad nobody got a hat trick,” said Grossi.  “No way was I tossing this sweet lid on the ice.”

Change of the Guard Seems Imminent in SHL’s Last Week

Going into the final week of the 2017 SHL season, neither division race is terribly close, unlike the last couple of seasons.  Barring a seismic shift in the coming week, we aren’t going to see anything as dramatic as the 2016’s Hershey-Washington last-game showdown for the division.  Nonetheless, even if things unfold as expected, the results will still have their share of surprises.  As it stands, neither of last year’s Finals opponents will make a return trip this season.

In the West, the Michigan Gray Wolves head into the season’s final week trailing the Anchorage Igloos by 6 points.  The Wolves and Igloos have been the division powers since the league’s inception, so it’s no surprise that they will finish one-two yet again.  But the Wolves have been unable to make up the ground they lost when top scorers Hunter Bailes and Warren Marlow went down with injuries in midseason.  “We’ve fought hard all year, and I know we’re going to keep battling to the end,” said Wolves RW Gordon Lunsford.  “But we’re in a difficult spot right now.”

Michigan’s best chance to narrow the gap came on Wednesday, when they faced the Igloos at Arctic Circle Arena.  The game was a true heavyweight clash, as the Wolves stifled Anchorage’s league-best offense, with the Igloos responding in kind.  After two scoreless periods, Michigan actually drew first blood seven minutes into the third, when Lunsford dented the twine on a hard slapshot between Anchorage goalie Ty Worthington‘s legs.  “That got us fired up,” said Lunsford.  “We thought this was the goal that was going to set us on a run to take the division.”

But with just over a minute left in the game, the Igloos tied the game on a fluky goal by D Sebastian Pomfret, who flicked a rebound that bounced off the back of Michigan netminder Dirk Lundquist back and into the goal.  That sent the game to overtime, where Wolves C Wesley Knight committed a tough holding-the-stick penalty.  15 seconds into the power play, Igloos LW Les Collins beat Lundquist stick-side to seal a 2-1 win.

“That was a back-breaker,” admitted Lunsford.  “To go from thinking you’re on the road to the division to feeling like you’re on the brink of elimination… it’s a kick in the gut, no question.”

As surprising as the West race has been, things have been even more shocking in the East.  The Washington Galaxy have won the division in each of the last two seasons and established themselves as the class of the division.  When they caught fire out of the All-Star Break, winning 10 in a row and snatching first place away from the Hershey Bliss, it looked like they were set up to run to yet another title.  It hasn’t unfolded that way, though, as the Bliss have grabbed the lead right back over the last couple of weeks.

And while Hershey has played well, the race in the East has been a story of Washington collapse.  The Galaxy have dropped 11 of 15 over the last three weeks, and they head into the final week of the season 8 points back of the Bliss.  For a team with a reputation for stepping it up in the second half, their dismal performance has been completely unexpected.  “We can’t figure it out,” said LW Casey Thurman.  “We know we can do better than this, but it’s kind of like we’re stepping on the gas and there’s nothing there.”

Certainly, the Galaxy’s using scoring punch has been absent during their recent skid.  They’ve fallen from sixth in the league in goals scored to second-to-last, ahead of only Quebec.  Several of their stars, including Thurman (2 goals in the last 15 games), C Eddie Costello (3 goals), RW Jefferson McNeely (3 goals), and C J.C. Marais (2 goals), have been in slumps.  But the offense hasn’t been the only culprit.  The normally stout defense, which allowed fewer than two and a half goals per game over the first two-thirds of the season, has allowed over three per game during their slide.  Backup goalie Ron Mason has lost his last five starts.  Their special units have flatlined over the last three weeks, with their power play dropping from a league-leading 24.1% success rate to a middle-of-the-pack 19.6%, and their penalty kill going from 82.9% efficiency to 78.8%.  “It’s like it’s all falling apart at once,” said Costello.

For the Bliss, who have heard over and over that they’re too soft, too sloppy, or too star-dependent to beat the Galaxy, the turnabout has been pretty sweet.  “We’ve taken a lot of crap over the years about how we can never win the big one, or how Washington’s got our number,” said Bliss C Justin Valentine.  “We’ve never bought into that story, but we knew we were were going to keep hearing it until we proved it.”  On Saturday, Hershey came into Constellation Center and walloped Washington 5-1.  “That one definitely felt good,” said Valentine.  “To be able to go into their building and shut them down like that… it gave us confidence that this isn’t going to be like the other years.  It’s a new era for us.”

2017 SHL Week 10 Team Stats

Team Totals

===================================================
Team             GP    SH    G    A  Pts   PP%  +/-
---------------------------------------------------
Anchorage        50  2119  189  356  545  18.7   77
Dakota           50  2204  187  348  535  20.9    7
Hershey          50  1833  174  323  497  21.0   12
New York         50  1993  154  292  446  18.4  -29
Saskatchewan     50  1591  156  290  446  18.0    0
Hamilton         50  1651  143  269  412  21.1  -25
Washington       50  1809  144  262  406  21.1   19
Seattle          50  1523  141  262  403  20.3  -78
Michigan         50  1613  139  255  394  16.9   47
Quebec           50  1213   93  168  261  15.0  -30
===================================================

=================================================================
Team             GP   W   L   T   GAA   SH   SV    SV%   PK%  PIM
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Michigan         50  32  14   4  1.72 1412 1325  0.938  84.6  399
Anchorage        50  33  11   6  2.19 1590 1479  0.930  84.0  447
Washington       50  28  22   0  2.49 1616 1491  0.923  81.3  486
Quebec           50  17  26   7  2.76 1585 1445  0.912  78.0  448
Hamilton         50  23  26   1  2.96 1762 1613  0.915  88.0  454
Hershey          50  26  18   6  3.14 1634 1475  0.903  78.9  380
Saskatchewan     50  19  29   2  3.20 1914 1753  0.916  77.8  407
Dakota           50  21  27   2  3.68 1820 1634  0.898  75.5  409
New York         50  19  28   3  3.79 2164 1973  0.912  77.6  462
Seattle          50  15  32   3  4.18 2052 1841  0.897  81.5  420
=================================================================

Continue reading “2017 SHL Week 10 Team Stats”

2017 SHL Week 10 League Leaders

=========================
         Points          
-------------------------
Ericsson       ANC     74
Koons          ANC     73
Frye           HAM     65
Sweet          HSY     65
Frost          ANC     64
Valentine      HSY     63
Karlsson       DAK     62
Smyth          HAM     61
Hart           HSY     59
Alexander      HAM     54
=========================

=========================
          Goals          
-------------------------
Frost          ANC     39
Koons          ANC     36
Valentine      HSY     36
Alexander      HAM     35
Manning        NY      33
Mango          SEA     30
Frye           HAM     26
Airston        DAK     24
Karlsson       DAK     24
Beasley        SAS     24
=========================

=========================
         Assists         
-------------------------
Ericsson       ANC     62
Smyth          HAM     55
Lidjya         DAK     47
Sweet          HSY     44
Hart           HSY     41
Barnes         SAS     41
Frye           HAM     39
Winchester     NY      39
Karlsson       DAK     38
Koons          ANC     37
=========================

=========================
     Penalty Minutes     
-------------------------
Gromov         HSY     89
Madison        MIC     83
Hendricks      DAK     78
Collins        ANC     77
Kalashnikov    QUE     75
Zhzhynov       QUE     72
Hunt           NY      70
Nurmi          NY      69
McCallan       SAS     69
Hogaboom       WSH     68
=========================

=========================
       Plus/Minus        
-------------------------
Frederick      ANC     44
Koons          ANC     43
Frost          ANC     43
Ericsson       ANC     43
Keefe          ANC     39
Martinsson     ANC     24
Douglas        MIC     24
Kronstein      MIC     21
Collins        ANC     20
Bailes         MIC     20
=========================

=========================
       Goalie Wins       
-------------------------
Lundquist      MIC     25
Worthington    ANC     24
Colt           HSY     19
Orion          WSH     19
Tiktuunen      QUE     15
=========================

=========================
           GAA           
-------------------------
Lundquist      MIC   1.47
Tiktuunen      QUE   1.53
Worthington    ANC   1.89
Orion          WSH   2.27
Copeland       MIC   2.84
=========================

=========================
         Save %          
-------------------------
Tiktuunen      QUE  0.951
Lundquist      MIC  0.949
Worthington    ANC  0.939
Orion          WSH  0.929
Koskinen       HAM  0.922
=========================

SHL Player of the Week – Week 10

Noah Daniels

The SHL selected Hershey Bliss RW Noah Daniels as its Player of the Week.  Daniels had a 10-point week (7 goals, 3 assists), a particularly remarkable feat for a player who came into the week having scored only 25 points on the season.  Thanks to Daniels’ hard work, the Bliss went 4-1-0 on the week and jumped back into first place in the East.

On Sunday, Daniels turned in his first career hat trick, contributing to Hershey’s 7-1 pummeling of Hamilton.  (More on that game here.)  On Tuesday, the winger scored two more goals and added three assists as the Bliss shredded Quebec 9-2.  And on Friday, Daniels scored two more to help Hershey tip New York 4-3.

“Noah’s a real fighter,” said Bliss coach “Chocolate Chip” Barber.  “He may not be the biggest or most gifted player out there, but he’s out there working hard every shift and clawing for every opportunity.  He’s made himself a player, and he deserves all the recognition he can get.”