SHL Player of the Week – Week 1

Elliott Pepper

The SHL selected Seattle Sailors RW Elliott Pepper as its Player of the Week.  Pepper was Seattle’s big offseason acquisition, picked up from rebuilding Dakota.  The big winger got off to a big start with his new club, notching 7 goals and 11 points in his first week.  Pepper currently leads the league in goals and is one behind C Calvin Frye of Hamilton for the league points lead.

He scored his first goal in a Sailors uniform on Sunday in a 5-1 win over Saskatchewan.  On Tuesday, he potted a pair to help Seattle sink his old club by a 5-4 margin.  Then on Friday, Pepper recorded a hat trick and added two wins in a wild 8-5 win over the Jackalopes.  Led by Pepper’s heroics, Seattle is off to a 4-1-0 start and a surprising second place in the West.

“As soon as I heard Elliott was available, I told our front office to go get him,” said Sailors coach Harold Engellund, who was Pepper’s boss in Dakota last year.  “He’s just a tremendous force: great shot, heads-up two-way player, a leader in the clubhouse.  For a young club like that, he’s exactly the kind of player we need.”

Stick Gets Stuck in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan SmallDakota SmallThe Saskatchewan Shockers’ arena crew has gotten quite a workout this season.  A couple weeks ago, they had to scramble to deal with the fallout of the Kazoo Night fiasco, when fans delayed the game multiple times by throwing objects on the ice.  In Wednesday’s game against the Dakota Rapids, the crew was challenged again, this time by another unusual cause: a wayward stick that got wedged in the boards.

“That’s a new one by me, for sure,” said Rapids coach Harold Engellund.  “It’s just one surprise after another this season.”

Apparently, it was all Justin Bieber’s fault.  The pop star had played a concert at the Shockers’ home, Potash Arena, the previous night.  As a result, the crew had to rebuild the hockey rink on a compressed timeframe.  In doing so, they apparently neglected to fasten the bolts at the top of the boards in one end of the arena.

The problem wasn’t evident at first, but as the players banged into the boards over the course of the game, the gap between the boards began to widen.  Then in the third period, Rapids RW Elliott Pepper swatted at a puck that had popped in the air, and his stick got stuck in the gap.  After several furious tugs failed to dislodge it, Pepper skated away sans stick to rejoin the play.  The referees then tried to yank it out and had no more success than Pepper.

At the next stoppage in play, the Shockers crew came over to pull it loose and failed again.  Finally, Pepper was able to dislodge the stick with the help of teammate Lars Karlsson.

“I asked the refs if that meant we could stop the game immediately and declare us the winner,” joked Pepper.  “They said no, but according to the prophecy, I believe this makes Lars and me king of hockey.”

After Pepper finally retrieved his stick, the crew worked feverishly to get the bolts attached properly.  They managed to get things fixed with only a minimal stoppage in play, although they did need to ask some of the fans in the first couple rows to scatter so they could work.

“That was a prime-time performance by our crew,” said Shockers GM Cooper Matthews.  “They were real professionals out there.”

Unfortunately for the home team, the game didn’t turn out as hoped: Saskatchewan trailed 5-3 at the time of the incident, and they wound up losing 6-3.  “When they stopped play to fix the boards, I was kind of rooting for a postponement,” said Shockers C Napoleon Beasley.  “We were already doomed.”

With five weeks left in the season, what’s next for the Shockers?  “Is it frogs, or locusts?” said Matthews.  “I haven’t read through the Bible in a while, but I think it’s locusts.”

Dakota Player: Anchorage Needs to Move

Anchorage IgloosThe Anchorage Igloos are, shall we say, remote relative to the other teams of the SHL.  Dakota Rapids RW Elliott Pepper, after his team had to fly to and from Alaska yet again, vented his frustration and called for the league to force the Igloos to move.

Elliott Pepper
Elliott Pepper

“It’s ridiculous,” said Pepper.  “It’s totally unfair to ask us to go there and back six times a year.  They’re halfway across the world from every other team in the league.  No wonder they do so well at home; the other team is so jet-lagged they can barely stand up.  It’s a joke, and I don’t know why the league accepts it.”

Asked what he felt the solution was, Pepper replied, “Move them.  Have them go to Seattle or Kansas City or, I don’t know, somewhere in this hemisphere.  If Anchorage wants a hockey team, they can play in the Russian league.”

Informed of Pepper’s comments, Igloos coach Sam Castor replied tartly, “Alaska has a proud hockey tradition, and the fans here deserve a team at least as much as South Dakota.”  Asked whether he felt the travel complaint was fair, Castor replied, “If he doesn’t like it, imagine having to fly 10 hours for every road game all season.  If anyone’s getting the short end of the travel stick, it’s us.  But you don’t hear me complaining.”

Castor added, “Every time we play in Dakota, I can never find a decent place to have dinner.  Should I tell the league to make the Rapids move to a real city?”