- 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.
There are perhaps no SHL teams more diametrically opposed in style than the New York Night and the Quebec Tigres. The Night are well known around the league both for the brash boasts and insults of coach Nick Foster and for their fast-paced, high-flying, high-scoring brand of hockey. The Tigres, on the other hand, are renowned for their deliberate, hard-hitting, trapping approach to the game; they also prefer to send messages on the ice, rather than in the press. It’s no surprise that the two teams don’t like each other much, and that their games tend to be fiercely contested. When both teams are in close contention for a playoff spot, as they are now, their matchups gain an extra layer of excitement.
“Us and New York, it’s like the old saying about the irresistible force vs. the immovable object,” said Tigres LW Walt Camernitz. “It’s a battle to dictate the game. Whoever controls the tempo usually wins.”
That’s what made Thursday’s game at Neon Sky Center so unusual and thrilling. In general, the contest – and the delightfully bonkers third period in particular – was played at New York’s preferred pace. But it was Quebec that emerged victorious, by an eyebrow-raising 7-5 score. The win only further tightened the East’s tense playoff chase, in which the top four teams are separated by a mere three points.
“I can’t even be mad we lost this one, because it was just so much fun to watch,” said Foster.
The game’s opening period set the tone for what was to come, as the teams combined for 33 shots (18 of them by the Night). New York got on the board first 5:56 into the game, when C Rod Remington went short-side to beat Tigres netminder Riki Tiktuunen. A mere eight seconds later, Quebec struck back with a goal by RW Stephane Mirac. It took only 51 more seconds for the Tigres to take the lead, courtesy of a top-shelf blast off the stick of Camernitz.
Even though they trailed after the first, the Night remained confident, since the game was being played on their terms. That confidence took a hit in the second period, as the Tigres scored twice exactly two minutes apart to make it a 4-1 game. Foster admitted that he thought of removing goalie Jesse Clarkson at that point, but he elected not to. Instead, in the locker room between periods, the coach urged his team to keep hope alive.
“Remember, you are the most dangerous scoring machine this league has ever seen,” Foster told his players. “You think a little three-goal deficit can stop a great team like this? Not a chance. Let’s go out and show them who we are!”
New York proceeded to go out and do exactly that. As Foster predicted, they scored four goals in the third period, enough to erase that deficit. However, they also gave up three, eliminating any shot at a win.
Most of the period’s action was front-loaded, occurring in a frenetic three minutes that Camernitz described as “total insanity. I’ve never seen that much scoring in a short time, not even playing shinny as a kid.”
Remington kicked off the craziness 47 seconds into the period, jamming home a rebound off a shot by D Dominic Sanchez. That cut the Night’s deficit to two and brought the crowd to its feet. It felt like a momentum-shifter. But less than 30 seconds later, the Tigres swung the momentum firmly back in their direction, thanks to a pair of goals by LW Rupert MacDiarmid only seven second apart.
“Thank God for Rupe,” said Camernitz. “He really saved our bacon there.”
But the Night weren’t dead yet. Less than a minute and a half after MacDiarmid’s second goal, New York C Brock Manning deflected a shot from LW Chase Winchester between Tiktuunen’s legs to make it a 6-3 game. Just 28 seconds later, Winchester and Sanchez got loose on a breakaway. Tiktuunen bit hard on a fake shot from Winchester, who slid the puck over to Sanchez for a layup into the wide-open net to make it a two-goal game again.
A frustrated Tiktuunen smashed his stick over the crossbar as the New York fans serenaded him with sing-song chants of “Ri-ki, Ri-ki.”
“I was so mad at myself,” Tiktuunen said after the game. “That goal was a disaster.”
The crowd was kicked into high gear after Sanchez’s goal, and they only got louder and more frenzied after Tigres D Kirby Hanlon took a delay of game penalty a couple minutes later. “If [the Night] had scored there,” admitted Camernitz, “they probably would have come back and won.”
But Quebec fought off the penalty, and about 20 seconds after it ended, RW Weldon “Candy” Kane buried a shot from the slot to restore the three-goal lead and give everyone on the Tigres bench a chance to breathe.
The Night gave it one more run when RW Ivan Trujwirnek scored with 2:19 left in the game to get New York within two. But they couldn’t get another tally, and a clipping penalty by D Anson Brank in the final minute snuffed out their final chance at a comeback.
“We really pushed the pace, huh?” said a grinning Foster after the game. “The grinding little bastards got the W, but they were playing our game. Nine times out of ten, when we get in a firewagon game like that, we win.”
Predictably, Quebec coach Martin Delorme had a different spin on the outcome. “Obviously, this game was not to our usual comfort,” he told reporters, “but at this point, the victory is what matters. Next time we play them, we can win 1-0 and make me happier.”