- On Monday, the Kansas City Smoke recalled F David Facinelli from their CHL affiliate in Omaha and returned C Edz Zalmanis to Omaha. The Smoke had a need for a center when Mike Rivera and Nile Bernard suffered injuries, so they promoted Zalmanis just over two weeks ago. He appeared in 9 games during his stint with Kansas City, scoring 2 goals and adding 2 assists.
- Also on Monday, the Michigan Gray Wolves placed RW Boris Badenov on the injured list. Badenov, who was playing for their minor-league affiliate in Cleveland, suffered a lower-body injury in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Omaha, and is expected to be out of action for 4 to 6 weeks. To replace Badenov on the roster, assistant coach Glenn Reichler was activated and added to the roster. (Story here.)
- On Wednesday, the Quebec Tigres activated LW Stellan Fisker from the injured list. Fisker missed 10 games with an upper-body injury suffered two and a half weeks earlier. In order to make room for Fisker’s return to the roster, the Tigres returned LW Carl Bleyer to their affiliate in Halifax. Bleyer appeared in 4 games for the Tigres, recording a goal.
- On Friday, the Hershey Bliss placed minor-league D Seth Dowd on the injured list. The 34-year-old Dowd, who was playing for their affiliate in Milwaukee, was taken off the ice on a stretcher after ramming head-first into the boards. He underwent surgery and is expected to miss the rest of the season. To replace Dowd on the Milwaukee roster, the Bliss signed D Knute Skoeglin, who appeared in 10 games for Milwaukee last season.
- On Saturday, the Washington Galaxy activated D Grant Warriner from the injured list. Warriner, the Galaxy’s top young blueliner, missed two and a half weeks with an upper-body injury. In order to accommodate Warriner’s return to the active roster, the Galaxy demoted D Serkan Mratic to their CHL affiliate in Baltimore and released D Nate Cimino. Mratic recorded 2 assists and a -18 rating in 22 games with Washington; the 19-year-old Cimino notched a goal and 2 assists over 13 games with Baltimore.
- On Wednesday, the Hershey Bliss‘ CHL affiliate in Milwaukee activated G Hobie Sanford from the injured list. Sanford suffered a bruised collarbone in the first week of the season, and had been on the IL ever since. In order to make room for Sanford on the roster, the organization released G Toby Kemper. Kemper, who had served as Milwaukee’s reserve netminder during Sanford’s injury, went 1-2-0 with a 4.66 GAA and an .869 save percentage during his time with the club.
- On Friday, the Quebec Tigres activated D Kevin Buchanan from the injured list. Buchanan went down with an upper-body injury two and a half weeks ago. In order to allow Buchanan to return, the Tigres demoted D Hampus Olsson to their CHL affiliate in Halifax. This season, Olsson appeared in 15 games with Quebec, recording 3 assists and a -2 rating. To make room for Olsson on the Halifax roster, the team did not renew D Gustaf Bergstrom’s 10-game contract.
- On Saturday, the Tigres placed LW Stellan Fisker on the injured list. Fisker exited Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Portland after suffering an upper-body injury late in the second period. The team described him as “week-to-week” with the injury. To replace Fisker on the roster, the Tigres called up LW Carl Bleyer from their affiliate in Halifax. This is the 21-year-old Bleyer’s second stint with Quebec; he was called up for 10 games last season.
- Also on Saturday, the Hamilton Pistols recalled F Michael Jennings from their farm club in Oshawa and reassigned C Hilliard Macy to Oshawa. The team called Macy up last week when C Calvin Frye went down with an injury and appeared in five game, recording a goal and two assists Frye returned to the lineup in mid-week, but LW Steven Alexander was injured in Saturday’s 6-4 loss to Kansas City, and is expected to miss up to a week. With Frye back and Alexander out, the Pistols needed a winger instead of a center, so they brought Jennings back to the SHL.
- Finally, in another Saturday night move, the Kansas City Smoke demoted F David Facinelli to their affiliate in Omaha and called C Edz Zalmanis. Like Hamilton’s move, the transaction was driven be an injury. C Mike Rivera was hurt in Saturday’s tussle with Hamilton, and is expected to miss multiple games. With an opening at center, the Smoke took the opportunity to give a look to Zalmanis, who has been brilliant with Omaha (17 points and a +5 rating in 16 games). The 29-year-old Facinelli has appeared in 7 games with KC this second, registering a single point.
The SHL’s Western division is expected to be a dogfight this year, with three teams considered by most observers to have a shot at the crown. Two of those teams suffered major injuries that may affect the balance of power in the division.
The Dakota Rapids finished third last season, with their high-flying offense unable to overcome a leaky defensive unit and inconsistent goaltending. The team strengthened its blue-line corps in the offseason in the hopes of becoming a bit more balanced, but Dakota suffered a loss in that area this week. Veteran D Craig Werner notched his first point of the season in Friday’s 7-4 win over Seattle, scoring a third-period power play goal. Less than two minutes later, Werner was crumpled on the ice after a brutal knee-on-knee hit by Sailors LW Trevor Green, a former teammate.
Werner had to be helped off the ice, and after the swelling did not subside the next day, he went in for an MRI exam. The exam revealed significant damage, and the blue-liner is expected to be out for the next three weeks.
Werner was a solid two-way presence for Dakota last year, putting up 11 goals and 22 points. He was bumped to the second defensive pairing with Gustaf Bergstrom this season, where he is expected to provide a stabilizing presence. With Werner out, stay-home defender Marty Trammell will get additional playing time. Trammell will add some grit to Dakota’s defense, but he is generally regarded as too slow to fit the Rapids’ up-tempo style.
“Obviously, this is tough for us,” said Rapids coach Harold Engellund. “Craig’s a pretty rugged guy, so when he went down and didn’t bounce back up, right away you know it’s trouble. We hoped it might ease up the next day, but it got worse instead. He was barely able to walk on it. Now we’ve just gotta pray he responds well to treatment and gets back here. We need him.”
The day before Werner’s injury, the Anchorage Igloos might have suffered an even greater loss. In Thursday’s 5-3 win over (oddly enough) Seattle, Igloos C Nile Bernard got caught in a pileup near his own net. He came up limping, and was subsequently diagnosed with a lower-body injury. Anchorage team doctors expect that he too might miss up to three weeks.
Bernard was an essential part of Anchorage’s offense last season, anchoring the second line and scoring 17 goals and 37 points. He netted a pair of goals in the SHL Finals, as the Igloos took home the league’s inaugural title.
Igloos coach Sam Castor was visibly distraught while discussing Bernard’s injury. “Nile’s such a big piece of the puzzle for us,” Castor told reporters. “He’s strong on both ends of the ice, he’s a terrific passer, a good hard shooter, and he’s got a real gift for knowing where the play’s going. Our team isn’t built to rely on any one guy, but not having Nile for an extended period is going to hurt.”
Rookie C Derek Humplik has been tapped to take Bernard’s spot on the second line, and reserve F David Facinelli will see significantly more ice time in the coming weeks.
With the Igloos and Rapids both missing significant contributors for long periods, this would be a good chance for the Michigan Grey Wolves to separate themselves from the pack. Wolves coach Ron Wright is cautiously optimistic, but warned his team to avoid gloating. “There’s no denying that this provides us with an opportunity,” said Wright. “But I don’t want to hear any of my guys whooping it up out there. Hockey’s a fickle game, and I’m a big believer in karma. Next thing you know, it could be one of our big guns going down. We just need to keep our heads down and play the best game we can. And be extra careful when we play Seattle.”