Galaxy Trade for Sailors D Gallagher

The Washington Galaxy are in a great position as they look to capture their third straight division title.  They’ve gone undefeated since the All-Star break, and they just passed Hershey to take the lead in the East.  It would have been easy to imagine them making no moves at the deadline, not wanting to mess with a good thing.  Instead, though, the Galaxy made a small but smart move, bolstering their defensive corps by grabbing D Stan “Animal” Gallagher from the Seattle Sailors in exchange for minor-league D Woody Fairwood.

Stan Gallagher

The pickup of Gallagher should stabilize Washington’s third defensive pairing, which has been a season-long conundrum.  The position opposite Bruce “Boom Boom” Hogaboom has a revolving door, as the Galaxy have rotated between veteran Bill Corbett, young banger Jurgen Braun, and rookie Graham Bellinger.  All three have done credibly, but none of them has played well enough to seize the job full-time.

The 27-year-old Gallagher should provide Hogaboom with a strong running partner.  He scored 16 points (2 goals, 14 assists) with Seattle, playing largely on their top pairing.  He earned his “Animal” nickname for the fierce enthusiasm he puts into his skating and checking, which will make him a good fit beside the pugnacious Hogaboom.

“Did we need to make this deal?  Probably not,” admitted Galaxy GM Garnet “Ace” Adams.  “But does this deal make us a stronger team than we were yesterday?  Oh yeah.  The Animal’s got a well-earned reputation around this league, and putting him and Boomer on the ice together should unleash some havoc.  Graham will have the opportunity to go down to the minors and play every day, which should help him develop.  And Corbs and Brauny will get opportunities to contribute off the bench, where we know we can count on them.”

In the run-up to the deadline, it was rumored that Washington was pursuing a bigger deal.  The Saskatchewan Shockers were reportedly dangling D Chris “Lightning” Oflyng, and Hershey was said to be in hot pursuit of them.  It was speculated that the Galaxy were also after Oflyng, if only to block the Bliss from getting him.  But Adams said that Washington wasn’t making a serious attempt to land the Shockers blueliner.

“You never say never in this job,” said Adams.  “But we figured Oflyng was going to be too rich for our blood, and frankly, we didn’t need an upgrade like that.  We just wanted a solid vet for the third pairing, and we got him.”  As it turned out, Hershey wasn’t able to meet Saskatchewan’s demands for Oflyng either; they might have turned to Gallagher as a fallback option, but Washington beat them to it.

Woody Fairwood

For Seattle, the 21-year-old Fairwood may not match Gallagher in the character department, but he should provide similar production.  Fairwood had been playing with Washington’s minor-league club in Baltimore, where he notched 50 points (9 goals, 41 assists) and a +7 rating.  He was tied for the team lead in both categories

“I knew I was probably going to have a hard time making my way up to DC,” said Fairwood.  “It was a good organization and I’ll miss my friends there, but to get a shot at some real minutes at the major-league level, that’s exciting for me.”

Hershey Grabs Lead In East

Hershey SmallWashington SmallThe Washington Galaxy thought they had things well in hand.  After a blip early in the season when a couple unlikely contenders got off to hot starts, the Galaxy quickly established order.  Just like last season, Washington maintained a steady lead in the mid-to-high single digits as none of the other teams seemed poised to contend.  But the defending champs have hit a skid at the worst possible time, and with two weeks left now find themselves looking up at the Hershey Bliss.

“I don’t think any of expected to wind up here,” said Galaxy LW Casey Thurman.  “It’s crunch time for us now.”

Washington’s perplexing swan dive started at the trade deadline.  The Galaxy raised some eyebrows by deciding to stand pat at the deadline despite obvious weaknesses on the third line, where LW Henry Van Alpin has struggled to stay in the lineup and C Barry Sullivan has underperformed.  GM Garnet “Ace” Adams defended his team’s inaction, claiming that the asking price for upgrades was too high.  “We’re not going to mortgage our future just to get a bit better,” said Adams.  “Besides, we got this far with the team we’ve got.  I trust our guys.”

Since then, though, Adams’ guys have lost 8 of 11 games.  Washington’s formerly high-flying offense, which had averaged 3.6 goals a game, has produced only 2.5 goals on average during the skid.  “It hasn’t been clicking for us lately for whatever reason,” said Thurman.  “Our passes seem sloppier, our shots are pushing a little wide, whatever the reason.”

Meanwhile, the then-second-place Bliss made a big move at the deadline, landing an experienced veteran goaltender in Jesse Clarkson from Dakota, shoring up their biggest weakness.  Clarkson didn’t come cheap – the Bliss had to surrender prospect Buzz Carson and their first-round pick – but Hershey GM Scott Lawrence didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.  “We’re in it to win it,” Lawrence said.  “Getting the Vandy is what we’re about.”

The Bliss finally took advantage of the move this week, beginning with a Saturday tussle with the Galaxy in DC.  In that game, Washington blew a 3-1 lead and suffered a surprising 5-3 defeat.  Hershey’s Love Line swamped Galaxy goalie Roger Orion, with LW Lance Sweet potting a pair of goals and C Justin Valentine adding another.  That win kicked off a 5-0-0 week for the Bliss, while the Galaxy stumbled to a 1-4-0 mark.  Washington officially slid into second place on Friday, after dropping a 5-4 decision in New York while Hershey rallied for a 3-2 win over Hamilton.

“It’s really kind of a kick in the gut,” said Thurman.  “We’ve done so well all year, and now the finish line is in sight and we’re staggering.”

Adams continues to stand by his deadline decision.  “I’m confident in the team we have,” said the Galaxy GM.  “We’re in a rough patch right now, but I’m confident we’ll get right and finish strong the last couple of weeks.”

Meanwhile, in Hershey, the Bliss are feeling optimistic about their chances.  “We’re peaking at the right time,” said Valentine.  “We’re playing strong on both ends of the ice, and we’re not scared of [the Galaxy] now.  If they want to repeat, they’re going to have to take it away from us.”