- 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.
- On Wednesday, the Washington Galaxy activated LW Charlie Brooks from the disabled list. Brooks missed the last two and a half weeks with a lower-body injury. Due to his absence, Brooks missed last Friday’s game against Dakota, which recently acquired his younger brother Tanner. It would have been the first time the brothers faced each other in a professional game. To make room for Brooks on the roster, Washington demoted F Roman Bandikoff to their CHL affiliate in Baltimore. With the rebuilding Galaxy looking to provide playing time for their young players, the 36-year-old Bandikoff (5 assists and -3 rating in 24 games) was deemed expendable.
- On Saturday, the Hamilton Pistols sent down D Russ Klemmer to their CHL affiliate in Oshawa, and promoted RW Michael Jennings from Oshawa. The Pistols found themselves down a forward when RW Claude Lafayette suffered a lower-body injury on Thursday. Although Lafayette is not expected to miss much time, but the injury left Hamilton without a spare forward and forced C Henry Constantine to play out of position on the wing. Jennings was with the Pistols at the beginning of the season, but was sent down at the trade deadline. He put up 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) in 21 games for Hamilton.
- Also on Saturday, the Kansas City Smoke demoted C Owen Griffin to their farm team in Omaha, and called up C Edz Zalmanis from Omaha. This transaction reverses a move made just after the All-Star break. In 13 games with the Smoke, the 22-year-old Griffin recorded one assist while putting up a -11 rating. Zalmanis, meanwhile, lit up the minors, notching 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists) in 15 games.
- Also on Saturday, the Galaxy demoted D Murphy “Mutt” Metheny to their affiliate in Baltimore, and promoted D Ambroz Melicar from Baltimore. As Washington continues to offer more opportunities to their young players, the 23-year-old Melicar was an obvious candidate for a call-up. He was one of the top-scoring defensemen in the CHL, with 42 points (11 goals, 31 assists) in 47 games. The 29-year-old Metheny, the only SHL player to hail from Arkansas, appeared in only 9 games with DC, failing to record a point.
- On the Saturday of the All-Star Break, the Boston Badgers traded LW Cary Estabrook to the Hamilton Pistols for F Norris “Beaver” Young. Read more about the trade here.
- Prior to the beginning of play this week, the Dakota Jackalopes demoted D Victor Addison to their CHL affiliate in Idaho and called up D Rodney Black from Idaho to replace him. Addison was a lightly-used reserve in Dakota this season; he appeared in only 7 games, recording no points and a -4 rating. Recently, he had been passed on the depth chart by Geoff Moultrie. Black, meanwhile, was one of the CHL’s top blueliners, putting up 29 points (19 goals, 10 assists) in the first half and earning a berth in the All-Star Game.
- Also prior to the start of play, the Kansas City Smoke demoted C Edz Zalmanis and RW Andrew “Lucky” Fortuno to their CHL affiliate in Omaha, while calling up C Owen Griffin and RW Adriaen van der Veen from Omaha. Kansas City’s offense was lackluster in the first half; they averaged only 24.3 shots per game, second-worst in the league, and they are dead last in plus-minus at -30. The 23-year-old Zalmanis, who signed a 5-year, $3.5 million free agent contract in the offseason, put up only 4 assists and a -9 rating in 23 games. Fortuno did a bit better, with 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) and a -6 plus-minus in 24 games. The 21-year-old van der Veen was a CHL All-Star and one of leading scorers, with 39 points (16 goals, 23 assists). Griffin, 22, was leading the CHL in plus-minus at +24; he notched 30 points (5 goals, 25 assists) in the first half.
- On Wednesday, the Jackalopes placed Black on the 10-game disabled list. Black got off to a strong start with Dakota after being called up, with a goal and an assist in 2 games, but he exited in the third period of Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to Kansas City with an upper-body injury that’s expected to keep him out for 2 to 3 weeks. Since the Jackalopes had 8 defensemen on their roster already, they chose not to call anyone up at this time.
- On Friday, the Badgers activated G Roger Orion from the disabled list, after he’d missed three and a half weeks with a lower-body injury. With Orion activated, Boston returned Jonas Schemko to their minor-league affiliate in Hartford. Schemko looked good in his brief stint with the Badgers, going 1-1-1 with a 2.27 GAA and a .924 save percentage.
- On Saturday, the Washington Galaxy placed LW Charlie Brooks on the disabled list. Brooks suffered a lower-body injury in Saturday’s 6-0 rout of Boston. To replace Brooks on the roster, the Galaxy promoted LW Alan Youngman from their farm team in Baltimore. Youngman is one of the CHL’s top scorers, notching 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) so far on the season.
Eastern Division Series
After the Hamilton Pistols dropped the first two games of the best-of-five Eastern playoff to the Quebec Tigres despite outshooting their opponent in both games, many observers predicted that the Tigres would make quick work of the series. Hamilton had finished the regular season on a cold streak, and it looked like Tigres goalie Riki Tiktuunen would extend their slump right out of the playoffs.
Pistols coach Keith Shields dismissed the naysayers. For one thing, he felt that Tiktuunen’s success wasn’t sustainable. “Tiktuunen’s a great goalie, but he’s not unbeatable,” Shields told reporters. “I feel like the puck luck is due to break our way. If we keep firing pucks at him, he’s going to crack eventually.”
Even more, though, he felt that the enthusiasm of the home crowds would shift the momentum in Hamilton’s favor. “You feed off the energy of your fans in your building,” said Shields. “Our fans are great, and I know they’re gonna be loud for us. That will give us extra energy and tilt the ice our way.”
The Pistols and their fans validated the coach’s faith in the last two games. After surviving a long grind and pulling out a double-overtime win in Game 3, Hamilton came out strong and used the energy in the building to fuel a 2-0 win, sending the series to a winner-take-all Game 5 back in Quebec. Tiktuunen looks mortal, and the Pistols’ top-notch top line is getting hot at the right time.
“Now, all those smart guys who were reading our obituary after the first two games, don’t you feel silly?” said Shields. “I told you this team was too talented to be held down, especially with our fans behind us.”
The game started slowly, as both clubs seemed a bit drained from their Game 3 marathon. But an early penalty on Tigres D Doug Wesson got the crowd fired up, and the Pistols quickly warmed to the task. They pinned Quebec in their own zone through the power play, and LW Steven Alexander broke through with a shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle that snuck in above Tiktuunen’s blocker. If was only the second shot of the entire game, but it put Hamilton in front.
“Getting that first goal was huge,” Alexander said. “It fired up the crowd and fired up our bench, too. It was the shot of adrenaline we needed.”
As the second period began, the Pistols had found a rhythm. They nearly cashed in on another early-period power play, as RW Kenny Patterson fired a shot that dribbled between Tiktuunen’s pads. The Quebec netminder managed to sweep the puck away before it crossed the goal line, however. A couple minutes later, Hamilton killed off an elbowing penalty to LW Jamie Campbell, and the crowd roared and stomped so hard that the benches shook.
“It felt like it was an earthquake,” said Tigres C Mikhail Ilyushin.
Shortly after the Campbell penalty ended, Pistols C Calvin Frye grabbed a loose puck near his own blue line and fired a perfect pass to Alexander, who had leaked out of the zone. Alexander streaked up the ice, deked past Quebec D Hal Pugliese, and thundered a slapshot that beat Tiktuunen and went bar-down for a second goal.
That two-goal lead felt more like ten given Quebec’s challenges in jump-starting its sluggish offense. The Tigres had one more power play opportunity in the second and two in the third, but they couldn’t convert on them, and they found it virtually impossible to generate shots during 5-on-5 play.
“We need more quality and more quantity on offense,” said Quebec coach Martin Delorme. “What we saw tonight will not get the job done.”
Meanwhile, Pistols goalie Lasse Koskinen looked sharp, turning aside all 24 shots he faced. “Lasse really stayed on it tonight,” said Hamilton D Hercules Mulligan. “There were stretches were the action in our end was so dead he probably wanted to pull out a rocking chair and take it easy. But whenever they made it through to our end, he was on his toes and making the stops.”
All in all, it was a decisive win for the Pistols, and momentum is definitely on their side going into the deciding game. But will they be able to keep it going as the action shifts back to Quebec? Shields pointed out repeatedly that his team got a boost from the red-clad throngs at Gunpowder Armory; how will they do amid the orange-clad throngs at Centre Citadelle, rooting for their defeat? How badly will the Pistols miss third-line center Edz Zalmanis, who left the game late in the second period with an upper-body injury and is reportedly done for the year?
And what about Tiktuunen, who looked superhuman in the first two games but distinctly mortal in the last two? Will he rediscover his mojo on home ice, or have the Pistols figured him out?
A shot at the Vandy rides on the answers to those questions. Both teams can’t wait to find out what happens next.
E Final - Game 4, Quebec @ Hamilton, Gunpowder Armory 1 2 3 OT F Quebec 0 0 0 0 Hamilton 1 1 0 2 Quebec G A PTS PIM +/- Hamilton G A PTS PIM +/- Camernitz LW 0 0 0 0 -1 Alexander LW 2 0 2 0 1 Workman D 0 0 0 0 0 Smyth D 0 1 1 0 0 Zarkovich C 0 0 0 2 0 Frye C 0 2 2 0 1 McKinley D 0 0 0 0 0 Risch D 0 0 0 2 0 Mirac RW 0 0 0 0 -1 Lafayette RW 0 0 0 0 1 Fisker LW 0 0 0 0 0 Gunnarson LW 0 0 0 0 0 Ilyushin C 0 0 0 0 -1 Mulligan D 0 0 0 0 0 Jones D 0 0 0 0 0 Constantine C 0 0 0 4 0 Robinson RW 0 0 0 0 0 Werner D 0 0 0 2 0 MacDiarmid LW 0 0 0 0 0 Patterson RW 0 0 0 0 0 Pugliese D 0 0 0 0 -1 Campbell LW 0 0 0 2 0 Kalashnikov D 0 0 0 2 -1 Glasco D 0 0 0 0 1 Pentti RW 0 0 0 0 0 Zalmanis C 0 0 0 0 0 Miller C 0 0 0 0 0 Soforenko LW 0 0 0 0 0 Wesson D 0 0 0 2 0 Dyomin D 0 0 0 0 1 ---------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------- TOTALS 0 0 0 6 -1 TOTALS 2 3 5 10 1 Scratches: QUE: Shovshenkov, Zhzhynov, Kane HAM: Kratz, Jennings, Rodney Quebec SH SV G Sv% ---------------------------------------- Tiktuunen 31 29 2 0.935 Hamilton SH SV G Sv% ---------------------------------------- Koskinen 24 24 0 1.000 First Period ------------ GOALS: 03:31 HAM Alexander PP (Smyth, Frye) PENALTIES: 02:34 QUE Wesson 2:00 (Diving) 04:06 HAM Constantine 2:00 (Cross-checking) 14:06 QUE Kalashnikov 2:00 (Diving) Second Period ------------- GOALS: 09:07 HAM Alexander (Frye) PENALTIES: 01:37 QUE Zarkovich 2:00 (Tripping) 05:03 HAM Campbell 2:00 (Elbowing) 17:18 HAM Werner 2:00 (Interference) Third Period ------------ GOALS: None PENALTIES: 01:29 HAM Risch 2:00 (Holding the Stick) 14:35 HAM Constantine 2:00 (Holding the Stick) SHOTS ------ 1 2 3 OT F Quebec 7 8 9 24 Hamilton 8 11 12 31 POWER PLAYS ----------- Quebec 0 for 5 Hamilton 1 for 3 INJURIES -------- Edgars Zalmanis (HAM) -- Upper-body 20 games