2020 SHL Playoff – Game 2

Eastern Division Playoff (Hamilton leads, 2-0)

HAMILTON PISTOLS 5, HERSHEY BLISS 1

When it’s playoff time at Gunpowder Armory, it’s not a good idea to show up late.  For one thing, the games always sell out, and you wouldn’t want to have to fight your way through the raucous crowd to find your seat.  For another, you never know what you might miss.  Fans who showed up even a couple minutes late to today’s Game 2 missed a pair of power plays and three goals, as well as some of the rare competitive moments in a game that became a 5-1 Pistols blowout, bringing the defending champs within one game of a return trip to the Finals.

“We’re playing our best hockey at the perfect time,” said LW Steven Alexander.  “It feels a lot like last year, if you know what I mean.”

The game was just seven seconds old when Pistols D Hercules Mulligan went to the penalty box for interference.  Just ten seconds after that, Bliss LW Lance Sweet found the back of the net on a slapper.  It was the second straight game that Hershey scored first, and that left the home team steaming.

“We weren’t going to wait for Coach Shields to wake us up,” said C Calvin Frye.  “We wanted to take the game back before [the Bliss] started getting comfortable.”

Hamilton did just that fifty seconds into the game, when Hershey committed a costly neutral-zone turnover that led to an odd-man rush.  Frye finished it with a beautiful deke that got Bliss goalie Christien Adamsson out of position, allowing Frye to go five-hole and tie it up.  Just four seconds later, Hershey D Bruce Minnik was sent off for high-sticking.  On the power play that followed, Mulligan redeemed his earlier penalty with a blast from the blue line that beat a screamed Adamsson.

All that in the first 65 seconds.  That early flurry set the tone for a frenetic period that featured a total of 34 shots (23-11 in Hamilton’s favor) and one more goal by D Albie Glasco.

“I loved the way our guys showed up with authority and took control of the game,” said Pistols coach Keith Shields.  “Just an awesome job feeding off the energy of the crowd, tilting the ice and absolutely setting the pace.  I couldn’t have been prouder.”

After the wild first, the second period was almost shockingly silent, with no goals or penalties.  Even the famously rowdy Hamilton crowd seemed to lose its edge, at least until the Pistols scored a pair of third-period goals (from Frye and RW Ben Summers) to put the game away.  As the final minutes ticked away, the fans chanted “Back to back!  Back to back!”, already anticipating the Finals trip that feels close.

As for the Bliss, they seemed eager to put this game in the rear-view mirror and head back for the friendlier confines of Chocolate Center for a win-or-go-home Game 3.

“There’s too much talent in this locker room to count us out,” said D Reese Milton.  “When we get back home, we’ll be ready to turn this series around.”

E Final - Gm 2, Hershey @ Hamilton, Gunpowder Armory

                   1   2   3   OT   F
Hershey            1   0   0        1
Hamilton           3   0   2        5

 
Hershey               SH   G   A PTS BLK PIM +/-   Hamilton              SH   G   A PTS BLK PIM +/-

Milton          D      3   0   1   1   2   0   0   Lafayette       RW     2   0   3   3   0   0  +1
Sweet           LW     4   1   0   1   1   2  -1   Frye            C      4   2   1   3   0   0  +1
Hart            RW     2   0   0   0   2   0  -1   Alexander       LW     7   0   2   2   1   0  +1
Aubin           D      0   0   0   0   0   0   0   Mulligan        D      4   1   0   1   1   2   0
Valentine       C      3   0   1   1   0   2  -1   Risch           D      3   0   0   0   3   0   0
Kirkpatrick     C      2   0   0   0   0   0  -1   Smyth           D      2   0   1   1   1   0  +3
Cargill         D      0   0   0   0   1   2  -3   Summers         RW     5   1   0   1   0   0  +1
Meloche         D      1   0   0   0   0   0  -3   Venezio         C      2   0   1   1   0   0  +1
Swindonburg     LW     2   0   0   0   1   0  -1   Campbell        LW     3   0   0   0   2   0  +1
Montrechere     RW     2   0   0   0   1   0  -1   Hampton         D      2   0   0   0   3   0   0
Ketterman       C      1   0   0   0   0   0  -1   Marais          C      2   0   1   1   0   0  +1
Daniels         RW     1   0   0   0   0   0  -1   Glasco          D      2   1   0   1   0   0  +3
Nahorniak       LW     3   0   0   0   0   0  -1   Patterson       RW     5   0   1   1   0   0  +1
Minnik          D      4   0   0   0   3   2   0   Jennings        F      2   0   0   0   1   0  +1
Kulkarov        D      0   0   0   0   0   0   0   Klemmer         D      1   0   0   0   1   0   0
------------------------------------------------   ------------------------------------------------
TOTALS                28   1   2   3  11   8  -3   TOTALS                46   5  10  15  13   2   3

Coach: Chip Barber                                 Coach: Keith Shields                            

Scratches:
HSY:  Kilborn, Snelling, Lapointe
HAM:  Bodett (INJ), Pedersen, Winston (INJ), Gunnarson (DL)

 
Hershey             SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Adamsson            46    41    5  0.891

Hamilton            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Koskinen            28    27    1  0.964

 

First Period
------------

GOALS:
00:17  HSY  Sweet PP (Valentine, Milton)
00:50  HAM  Frye (Alexander, Lafayette)
01:05  HAM  Mulligan PP (Lafayette, Frye)
04:24  HAM  Glasco (Marais, Patterson)

PENALTIES:
00:07  HAM  Mulligan 2:00 (Interference)
00:54  HSY  Minnik 2:00 (High-sticking)
18:32  HSY  Valentine 2:00 (Holding the Stick)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
None


PENALTIES:
None


Third Period
------------

GOALS:
02:23  HAM  Frye PP (Alexander, Lafayette)
15:06  HAM  Summers (Venezio, Smyth)

PENALTIES:
00:24  HSY  Sweet 2:00 (High-sticking)
15:35  HSY  Cargill 2:00 (Slashing)


 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
Hershey           11   8   9       28
Hamilton          23  11  12       46

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

Hershey          1 for 1
Hamilton         2 for 4

 
INJURIES
--------

None

 

Western Division Playoff (Anchorage leads, 2-0)

ANCHORAGE IGLOOS 6, PORTLAND BLUEBACKS 5

After it was all over, in the quiet and sorrowful locker room, Portland Bluebacks LW Rod “Money” Argent tried to explain what had happened.  How the Bluebacks had allowed a game that they seemed set to win slip away.  How they had managed to give up four goals in a wild third period that saw them lose their lead, then regain it, only to lose it again.  How a team that had been so strong in the regular season – especially at Willamette River Arena – could drop the first two games of this best-of-five Western final at home.  How a team that swore they’d learned the lesson of last season – a team that was dead set on winning the Vandy – could be on the verge of being eliminated in a humiliating sweep for the second straight season.

Argent stared at the floor for a good long time, then looked up at the circle of reporters around him and said, “Honestly, I can’t explain what happened.  It was so fast and so stunning.  All I know is that we can’t let it happen again.  We’ve got to fix it, now.”

Coming into the fateful third period, Portland seemed to be comfortably in control.  They’d built a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Argent and D Doron Lidjya.  Anchorage had rallied in the second, with C Jake Frost and LW Les Collins getting on the board, but Argent had a power play tally in between to keep the Bluebacks in front.  The home team was outshooting the Igloos 27-17.  Goalie Ty Worthington was doing his part to keep Anchorage in the game, but he was not as unbeatable as he seemed in his Game 1 shutout.  Portland seemed to be on its way to evening the series.

But the Igloos weren’t content to take the loss and rest secure at the thought of Games 3 and 4 taking place at home.  Instead, they came out aggressively, pressing the Bluebacks and forcing them into turnovers.  Seventy seconds into the third period, Frost stormed into the slot and fired a shot past Jesse Clarkson‘s blocker to tie the score.  Less than a minute after that, RW Broni Zhlotkin tipped a shot from Collins and deflected it into the upper left corner of the net, giving Anchorage its first lead of the game.

The Bluebacks and the crowd were left stunned.  Coach Harold Engellund called timeout to stabilize his reeling team.

“I told them to let it go and focus on getting that lead back,” Engellund explained after the game.  “There was plenty of time left.”

The Bluebacks seemed to head Engellund’s message.  Less than 30 seconds after Zhlotkin’s tally, RW Vince Mango got loose on a breakaway and beat Worthington on the glove side to equalize it again.  Five minutes later, C Cliff Derringer rumbled in from the wing and collected a loose puck in front of the crease, jamming it home to give Portland a 5-4 edge.  After their brief scare, the Bluebacks seemed to have regained control.

But the Igloos weren’t done.  LW Tadeusz Adamczyk parked himself in front of the Portland net during a lengthy offensive shift, and flipped a rebound just under the crossbar to even things against at the 9:28 mark.  Half a minute later, Mango made a lazy pass that Frost picked off at center ice, flicking it to D Sebastian Pomfret.  Pomfret found RW Nicklas Ericsson, who turned on the afterburners to elude Bluebacks D Woody Fairwood and fire a low liner between Clarkson’s legs to make it 6-5.

“I thought maybe I was too old to go that fast still,” joked Ericsson.  “But in the playoffs, you find the energy.”

Portland still had half the third period to catch up.  And they tried, firing shot after shot at Worthington.  They even pulled Clarkson with two and a half minutes remaining, hoping the 6-on-5 edge would deliver the tying goal.  But even though they loosed 20 official shots in the third period (along with several more that went wide or were blocked), they couldn’t best the Anchorage netminder again.

Now the Bluebacks face a daunting task: they must win three in a row – including the next two at Arctic Circle Arena – in order to make it to the Finals.

Engellund believes his team is up to the task.  “We’ve left ourselves with no room for error,” the coach told reporters.  “But sometimes, it’s when your back is up against the wall that you find the real strength inside.  I think that’s what will happen.”

As for the Igloos, they’re hoping for a fast finish.  “I think we should go for the sweep,” said Frost.  “Us old guys could use a little rest before the Finals.”

W Final - Game 2, Anchorage @ Portland, Willamette River Arena

                   1   2   3   OT   F
Anchorage          0   2   4        6
Portland           2   1   2        5

 
Anchorage             SH   G   A PTS BLK PIM +/-   Portland              SH   G   A PTS BLK PIM +/-

Keefe           D      1   0   1   1   1   0   0   Costello        C      4   0   2   2   0   0  -2
Ericsson        RW     5   1   2   3   1   0  +2   Mango           RW     7   1   0   1   0   0  -2
Koons           LW     1   0   2   2   1   0  +2   Fairwood        D      3   0   1   1   2   0   0
Frost           C      7   2   1   3   2   0  +2   Lidjya          D      4   1   0   1   0   0   0
Pomfret         D      4   0   2   2   1   0   0   Gaspard         LW     3   0   1   1   1   0  -1
Kerasov         D      2   0   0   0   1   0  -1   Argent          LW     4   2   1   3   2   0  -2
Hoffman         C      2   0   1   1   2   0  +1   Lambert         D      4   0   1   1   0   0  +1
Collins         LW     2   1   1   2   0   2  +1   Beasley         C      4   0   0   0   0   0  -1
Citrone         D      1   0   0   0   1   0  -1   Pepper          RW     3   0   2   2   0   0  -1
Zhlotkin        F      1   1   0   1   0   2  +1   Gallagher       D      0   0   0   0   2   0  +1
Martinsson      D      1   0   2   2   2   0  +4   Gatecliff       D      2   0   0   0   1   0  -4
Adamczyk        LW     1   1   0   1   1   0   0   Durien          RW     5   0   1   1   0   0   0
Calligan        D      0   0   0   0   2   0  +4   Mortensen       D      1   0   0   0   4   0  -4
Bunyakin        C      1   0   0   0   0   0   0   Derringer       C      3   1   0   1   0   0   0
Fleury          RW     0   0   0   0   1   2   0   McElvern        F      0   0   0   0   0   0   0
------------------------------------------------   ------------------------------------------------
TOTALS                29   6  12  18  16   6   3   TOTALS                47   5   9  14  12   0  -3

Coach: Sam Castor                                  Coach: Harold Engellund                         

Scratches:
ANC:  Kennedy, Dyomin, LaNeige, Miranda (DL)
POR:  Bannon, Hexton, Gauss

 
Anchorage           SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Worthington         47    42    5  0.894

Portland            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Clarkson            29    23    6  0.793

 

First Period
------------

GOALS:
04:21  POR  Argent PP (Fairwood, Pepper)
07:34  POR  Lidjya (Pepper, Gaspard)

PENALTIES:
03:19  ANC  Collins 2:00 (Clipping)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
00:43  ANC  Frost (Koons, Ericsson)
03:34  POR  Argent PP (Costello)
06:05  ANC  Collins (Martinsson, Hoffman)

PENALTIES:
01:59  ANC  Zhlotkin 2:00 (Delay of Game)
08:33  ANC  Fleury 2:00 (Tripping)

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
01:11  ANC  Frost (Ericsson, Koons)
01:53  ANC  Zhlotkin (Collins, Martinsson)
02:19  POR  Mango (Argent, Costello)
07:12  POR  Derringer (Lambert, Durien)
09:28  ANC  Adamczyk (Keefe, Pomfret)
10:01  ANC  Ericsson (Pomfret, Frost)

PENALTIES:
None



 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
Anchorage          7  10  12       29
Portland          16  11  20       47

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

Anchorage        0 for 0
Portland         2 for 3

 
INJURIES
--------

None

2020 SHL Playoff – Game 1

Western Division Playoff (Anchorage leads, 1-0)

ANCHORAGE IGLOOS 2, PORTLAND BLUEBACKS 0

The Portland Bluebacks came into today’s game at Willamette River Arena prepared to notch their first-ever postseason victory.  They were fired up but not overamped.  They had a sellout crowd of screaming fans behind them.  They flew up and down the ice, fired crisp tape-to-tape passes, and bombarded the Anchorage Igloos‘ net with 41 shots.  In short, they did everything they needed to win.

They just weren’t counting on Ty Worthington.  The Igloos goalie was a buzz saw, turning aside all 41 Portland shots.  Thanks to Worthington’s brilliance, Anchorage managed to steal one on the road, claiming a 2-0 win.

“He just sealed it up,” said Bluebacks D Woody Fairwood, who unloaded 10 shots on Worthington to no avail.  “He was never out of position, and he wasn’t leaving any daylight. He just had the net on lock.”

Worthington has five seasons worth of playoff experience; at this point in his career, the bright lights don’t raise his heart rate.  “I was able to block out the noise and just focus,” he told reporters.  “I was seeing the puck really well, and muscle memory took over from there.:

Igloos coach Sam Castor praised Worthington, but he also credited the team’s defense for denying the Bluebacks good looks at the net.  They were particularly effective at containing Portland’s top line of LW Alphonse Gaspard, C Eddie Costello, and RW Vince Mango, limiting them to just six shot.  “Sure, [the Bluebacks] took a lot of shots, but they weren’t top-quality shots,” said Castor.  “They were firing from the outside and severe angles a lot, and they weren’t getting second looks.  It wasn’t always pretty, but it was effective.”

With Worthington standing on his head, the Igloos didn’t need much offense.  C Jake Frost scored the winning goal for Anchorage just over three minutes into the game, catching the Bluebacks in a poor line change and finishing a breakway by firing the puck over the right shoulder of Portland netminder Jesse Clarkson.  They added a bit of insurance early in the second, when Bluebacks C Cliff Derringer was whistled for a controversial offsides to nullify a potential odd-man rush.  A frustrated Derringer whacked the puck into the stands, earning a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.  On the ensuing power play, D Sebastian Pomfret cycled down from the blue line and fired a slapper that Clarkson couldn’t corral.

After the game, Derringer took responsibility for the loss.  “I have no idea what I was thinking,” he said.  “I just lost my head out there, and you can’t do that on this stage.”

In spite of their strong season, Portland now finds itself facing a must-win situation in Game 2.  Coach Harold Engellund believes his team is up to the challenge.  “We got knocked down today,” said Engellund.  “But I know we’re going to get off the mat and come back swinging.  They can’t shut us out every time.”

 

W Final - Gm 1, Anchorage @ Portland, Willamette River Arena

                   1   2   3   OT   F
Anchorage          1   1   0        2
Portland           0   0   0        0

 
Anchorage             SH   G   A PTS BLK PIM +/-   Portland              SH   G   A PTS BLK PIM +/-

Keefe           D      0   0   1   1   2   4  +1   Costello        C      3   0   0   0   0   0  -1
Ericsson        RW     1   0   2   2   1   0  +1   Mango           RW     1   0   0   0   0   2  -1
Koons           LW     2   0   1   1   0   0  +1   Fairwood        D     10   0   0   0   0   2  -1
Frost           C      4   1   0   1   2   0  +1   Lidjya          D      0   0   0   0   0   0  -1
Pomfret         D      6   1   0   1   2   2  +1   Gaspard         LW     2   0   0   0   0   0  -1
Kerasov         D      2   0   0   0   1   0   0   Argent          LW     1   0   0   0   2   5   0
Hoffman         C      3   0   0   0   1   0   0   Lambert         D      4   0   0   0   4   0   0
Collins         LW     1   0   0   0   0   5   0   Beasley         C      5   0   0   0   1   0   0
Citrone         D      4   0   0   0   4   2   0   Pepper          RW     1   0   0   0   0   0   0
Zhlotkin        F      1   0   0   0   0   0   0   Gallagher       D      3   0   0   0   1   0   0
Martinsson      D      2   0   0   0   1   0   0   Gatecliff       D      4   0   0   0   1   0   0
Adamczyk        LW     1   0   0   0   0   0   0   Durien          RW     1   0   0   0   0   0   0
Calligan        D      3   0   0   0   2   0   0   Mortensen       D      0   0   0   0   1   0   0
Bunyakin        C      1   0   0   0   0   0   0   Derringer       C      4   0   0   0   1   6   0
Fleury          RW     3   0   0   0   1   0   0   McElvern        F      2   0   0   0   0   0   0
------------------------------------------------   ------------------------------------------------
TOTALS                34   2   4   6  17  13   1   TOTALS                41   0   0   0  11  15  -1

Coach: Sam Castor                                  Coach: Harold Engellund                         

Scratches:
ANC:  Kennedy, Dyomin, LaNeige, Miranda (DL)
POR:  Bannon, Hexton, Gauss

 
Anchorage           SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Worthington         41    41    0  1.000

Portland            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Clarkson            34    32    2  0.941

 

First Period
------------

GOALS:
03:19  ANC  Frost (Ericsson, Koons)

PENALTIES:
09:06  POR  Derringer 4:00 (Spearing)
14:25  POR  Argent 5:00 (Fighting)
14:25  ANC  Collins 5:00 (Fighting)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
02:47  ANC  Pomfret PP (Keefe, Ericsson)

PENALTIES:
02:28  POR  Derringer 2:00 (Unsportsmanlike Conduct)
04:54  POR  Fairwood 2:00 (High-sticking)
08:09  ANC  Citrone 2:00 (Slashing)

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
None


PENALTIES:
02:11  ANC  Pomfret 2:00 (Tripping)
06:59  POR  Mango 2:00 (Holding the Stick)
09:30  ANC  Keefe 2:00 (High-sticking)
18:00  ANC  Keefe 2:00 (Elbowing)


 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
Anchorage          8  12  14       34
Portland          19  10  12       41

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

Anchorage        1 for 4
Portland         0 for 4

 
INJURIES
--------

None

 

Eastern Division Playoff (Hamilton leads, 1-0)

HAMILTON PISTOLS 3, HERSHEY BLISS 2

After the first period of today’s series-opening game, Hamilton Pistols coach Keith Shields knew he needed to reset his team.  Within the first six minutes, the visiting Hershey Bliss had built a 2-0 lead on a pair of power-play goals.  Those power plays had come courtesy of two ill-advised penalties by D Burt “Hacksaw” Hampton, who earned a seat on the best for the rest of the period.  The Pistols reacted to the early deficit by turning frantic, firing a flurry of shots that Bliss goalie Christien Adamsson easily stopped.

“I could tell our hearts were beating a little fast,” said Shields.  “We needed to slow down a bit.”

So Shields reminded his team of who they are.  “You’re the defending champions,” he said to his players.  “You’re mighty warriors.  You’re behind, but you’re not out of it by a long shot.  You’ve faced bigger deficits than this.  Take a breath and relax.  You’ve got this.”

He turned to Hampton and said, “I’m letting you out of jail.  But we need you on the ice, so go forth and sin so more.”

The Pistols took their coach’s words to heart.  They went out and rallied, notching a come-from-behind 3-2 win that marked their first step toward defending their title.

“This was a big statement win for us,” said Pistols RW Claude Lafayette.  “It showed that if somebody else wants the Vandy, they’re going to have to come take it from us.”

Hamilton got a break just seven seconds into the second period, when Bliss D Steve Cargill was penalized for high-sticking on a failed lift check.  On the power play that followed, the Pistols whipped the puck around with aplomb until it wound up on the stick of LW Steven Alexander, who fired one of his trademark slapshots to the short side to cut the deficit in half.  The crowd at Gunpowder Armory, which had been unusually quiet, roared back to life after Alexander’s tally.

The scored remained 2-1 through the rest of the second, but the momentum was shifting, and both teams felt it.

“When that crowd got going, that seemed to settle [the Pistols] down,” said Hershey C Justin Valentine.  “They lost that nervous energy and started playing with more confidence.  And then they started tilting the ice.”

Just over six minutes into the third period, the Pistols set up on an extended shift in the offensive zone.  The puck came to Alexander, who wound up for a booming slapper… only instead of shooting, he fired a pass to Hampton, who was breaking toward the net.  The hulking defenseman finished with a surprisingly light touch, flipping the puck over Alexander’s blocker to tie it up.  It was a tremendous relief for Hampton, who toned for his earlier blunders.

“When coach let me out of the doghouse, I wanted to show him that he was right to trust me,” Hampton said after the game.  “Scoring isn’t really my game, but I was glad for the chance to lift the team up.”

A couple minutes after that, LW Jamie Campbell – who struggled for much of the season – earned his shot at redemption.  Campbell is skating on the second line due to Magnus Gunnarson‘s injury, and when that line set up in the Hershey end, the Bliss defenders ignored Campbell to focus on C Marco Venezio and RW Ben Summers.  Seeing the opportunity, Venezio found Campbell, who had a clear lane to a wide-open net.  He didn’t miss, tucking it under the crossbar to put the Pistols in front.

“I had a feeling the game was going to find me,” said Campbell.  “And I knew if it did, I wanted to be ready.”

As exciting as the win was for the Pistols, it came at a cost.  Rookie D Elvis Bodett left the game in the third period after taking an awkward check up high and he did not return.  The team announced that he will miss the rest of the series.

Meanwhile, the visiting locker room was quiet after the deflating loss.  But Hershey will need to readjust quickly if they’re going to bounce back in Game 2.

“We need to be more aggressive with the lead next time,” said coach Chip Barber.  “That’s the defending champs over there, and if you give them a chance to get back into a game, they’re going to take it.  When we get ahead next time, we need to finish them off.”

 

E Final - Gm 1, Hershey @ Hamilton, Gunpowder Armory

                   1   2   3   OT   F
Hershey            2   0   0        2
Hamilton           0   1   2        3

 
Hershey               SH   G   A PTS BLK PIM +/-   Hamilton              SH   G   A PTS BLK PIM +/-

Milton          D      1   0   1   1   1   0   0   Lafayette       RW     0   0   2   2   0   0  +1
Sweet           LW     3   0   0   0   1   0  -1   Frye            C      4   0   1   1   0   2  +1
Hart            RW     1   0   0   0   0   2  -1   Alexander       LW     3   1   1   2   0   0  +1
Aubin           D      2   0   0   0   2   0   0   Mulligan        D      2   0   0   0   2   0   0
Valentine       C      4   1   0   1   3   0  -1   Risch           D      3   0   0   0   3   0   0
Kirkpatrick     C      2   1   0   1   0   0  -1   Smyth           D      1   0   0   0   5   0  +1
Cargill         D      6   0   1   1   0   4  -1   Summers         RW     2   0   1   1   0   0  +1
Meloche         D      0   0   0   0   0   0  -1   Bodett          D      4   0   0   0   0   2  +1
Swindonburg     LW     1   0   0   0   0   2  -1   Venezio         C      1   0   1   1   0   0  +1
Montrechere     RW     1   0   0   0   1   0  -1   Campbell        LW     7   1   0   1   1   0  +1
Ketterman       C      1   0   0   0   0   0   0   Hampton         D      5   1   0   1   2   4  +1
Daniels         RW     2   0   1   1   1   4   0   Marais          C      2   0   0   0   0   0   0
Nahorniak       LW     2   0   1   1   2   0   0   Glasco          D      1   0   0   0   0   0  +1
Minnik          D      2   0   0   0   1   0  -1   Patterson       RW     2   0   0   0   1   0   0
Kulkarov        D      0   0   0   0   3   0  -1   Jennings        F      2   0   0   0   2   0   0
------------------------------------------------   ------------------------------------------------
TOTALS                28   2   4   6  15  12  -2   TOTALS                39   3   6   9  16   8   2

Coach: Chip Barber                                 Coach: Keith Shields                            

Scratches:
HSY:  Kilborn, Snelling, Lapointe
HAM:  Klemmer, Pedersen, Winston (INJ), Gunnarson (DL)

 
Hershey             SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Adamsson            39    36    3  0.923

Hamilton            SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Koskinen            28    26    2  0.929

 

First Period
------------

GOALS:
01:51  HSY  Kirkpatrick PP (Nahorniak, Daniels)
05:54  HSY  Valentine PP (Cargill, Milton)

PENALTIES:
01:06  HAM  Hampton 2:00 (Interference)
05:02  HAM  Hampton 2:00 (Cross-checking)
13:38  HSY  Daniels 2:00 (Unsportsmanlike Conduct)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
00:41  HAM  Alexander PP (Frye, Lafayette)

PENALTIES:
00:07  HSY  Cargill 2:00 (High-sticking)
02:02  HAM  Bodett 2:00 (High-sticking)
13:56  HSY  Cargill 2:00 (High-sticking)
15:15  HSY  Hart 2:00 (Holding the Stick)
16:43  HSY  Swindonburg 2:00 (Cross-checking)

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
06:32  HAM  Hampton (Alexander, Lafayette)
08:33  HAM  Campbell (Venezio, Summers)

PENALTIES:
00:44  HSY  Daniels 2:00 (High-sticking)
02:00  HAM  Frye 2:00 (Clipping)


 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
Hershey            9   8  11       28
Hamilton          18  10  11       39

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

Hershey          2 for 4
Hamilton         1 for 6

 
INJURIES
--------

Elvis Bodett (HAM) -- Upper-body  7 games

Pistols, Bliss Ready for Rematch in East Playoff

This year’s Eastern Division playoff has a familiar ring to it.  The matchup features the same two teams that faced off last year.  In one corner, the Hamilton Pistols, the defending champions who are looking to be the first SHL team to win back-to-back titles.  In the other corner, the Hershey Bliss, the scrappy contenders who had to battle all the way until the last week of the season to secure a postseason spot.

“This should be a hell of a matchup,” said Pistols LW Steven Alexander.  “We know each other inside and out, our strengths and weaknesses, our go-to moves, all of that.  It’s like playing against your twin brother.”

Calvin Frye

The champs have returned with the core of their highly potent offense intact.  Hamilton led the SHL in goals with 233, an average of over 3.6 per game.  This season has seen a potential passing of the torch, however.  Last season, the Pistols’ heart and soul was their captain, Alexander, who scored 70 of his 100 points in the second half of the season and practically willed his team to the title.  This season, Alexander wasn’t even the leading scorer on the team; that would be his linemate, C Calvin Frye, who scored 42 goals to lead the league.

Alexander doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight with his younger teammate.  “Cal’s the perfect complement to me and Claude,” he said, referring to his longtime friend RW Claude Lafayette.  “If he’s the future of this team, then we’re in great shape.”

For his part, Frye vigorously insists that Alexander is still the man.  “This is still Alex’s team, no question,” Frye said.  “It’s his hustle, his scrappy spirit, his hunger and intensity that shaped us.”

The Pistols lost a couple of key contributors from last year – most notably C Eddie Costello, who’s now in Portland – but they also filled the holes with capable veterans on fairly cheap deals. C Marco Venezio and RW Ben Summers, the two key additions, have bolstered the Pistols’ second line and given the team a depth it lacked previously.  (That second line took a big hit with the late-season injury to LW Magnus Gunnarson, who was having a career year.  He will miss the entire divisional round.)

“Our top line is the best in the league,” said coach Keith Shields, “but our second line’s nothing to sneeze at either.  We’ve got a lot of ways to beat you.”

Though they’ve kept last year’s scoring touch, Hamilton has taken a big step back on defense.  They were ninth in the league in GAA at 3.19, thanks in large part to spotty play in their own end; they allowed 36.2 shots per game on average.

The Bliss, meanwhile, are eager to wash the bitter taste of last season’s playoff from their mouths.  They won the first game and took an early 2-0 lead in Game 2, only to see everything fall apart after that.  They coughed up that early lead, and collapsed in a ghastly five-goal third period that turned a loss into an 8-4 rout.  When the series shifted to Hamilton’s Gunpowder Armory, the Bliss were rattled by the noisy crowd and haunted by the previous game’s fiasco, suffering a 5-0 shellacking that essentially ended the series.  (The Pistols took a 2-1 overtime win in Game 4 to officially close things out.)

Justin Valentine

“We really weren’t happy with the way the series got away from us,” said C Justin Valentine.  “We’re definitely ready to redeem ourselves.  That was a painful lesson, but we came away stronger and tougher.”

Although the Pistols finished with the superior record, Hershey’s underlying statistics were better in many ways.  They scored nearly as many goals as Hamilton (226), but their defense was noticeably better; they allowed just 32.4 shots per game, good for fifth in the league.

In the end, Hershey’s chances in the series may come down to goaltending.  They have largely the same roster as last year except in net, where they replaced veteran Brandon Colt with Christien Adamsson, who turned in a credible campaign (24-19-5, 2.96 GAA, .907 save percentage).  But Adamsson has never been never appeared in the postseason before.  Neither has his backup, rookie Nash Gould.  It’s unkown how they’ll perform in the playoff limelight.  Meanwhile, Hamilton’s Lasse Koskinen is in the playoffs for the third straight year, and has shown he can stay cool under pressure. Will that give the champs a crucial edge?

“Christien’s been terrific for us,” said Bliss coach Chip Barber.  “I’m confident that he’ll rise to the occasion.”

If Adamsson proves to be the right man for the moment, Hershey has an excellent shot at getting revenge for last year’s embarrassment.  If he struggles, however, the Pistols might move one step closer to a second straight crown.

SHL Player of the Week – Week 5

Christien Adamsson

The SHL selected Hershey Bliss G Christien Adamsson as its Player of the Week.  Despite playing the entire week on the road, the Bliss went 3-0-1 to seize first place in the East, and Adamsson’s brilliant performance was a key contributor to Hershey’s sweet success.  Adamsson went 2-0-1 with a 1.30 GAA and a .961 save percentage.

Adamsson faced a couple tough tests this week against Western contenders, and he passed both with flying colors.  On Tuesday in Saskatchewan, he turned aside 42 shots as Hershey grounded the Shockers 4-1.  Two nights later in Portland, he made 34 stops as the Bliss dueled the Bluebacks to a 1-1 tie.

For the season, Adamsson is 8-5-2 with a 2.55 GAA and a .916 save percentage.  “Christien is the answer we’ve been looking for in the crease,” said Hershey coach Chip Barber.  “A good goalie is like a good coating chocolate: the best ones stay in temper.  He doesn’t get rattled, and he’s the steady hand that we need between the pipes.”