CHL Update: Utah Player Vies for Quiz Show Glory

D George Brinson is in his fifth season with the Utah Owls.  During that time, he has earned a nickname that most athletes would find unflattering: “The Brain.”  According to teammates, Brinson earned this sobriquet due to his seemingly bottomless store of and love for trivia.

“Brinner is a human Wikipedia,” said New York Night C Lloyd “Goofy” Banjax, who played alongside Brinson in Utah for four seasons.  “Whenever we’d go to a new city, he’d tell us the history of the city.  We’d drive past a statue, and he’d tell us about the guy it was named for and the battles he fought in or what he did.  It was pretty insane.”

George Brinson

At first, Brinson’s teammates found this habit annoying, and stuck him with the nickname sarcastically.  But over time, they came to consider it endearing.  They brought Trivial Pursuit cards on road trips and quizzed Brinson on them; he answered virtually every question correctly.  Later, Brinson began serving as quizmaster, preparing questions for his teammates to answer in competition.  In time, the Owls became sharp enough that they began competing in local bar trivia nights, with Brinson serving as captain.

Given Brinson’s facility with arcane knowledge, it comes as little surprise that his teammates having regularly encouraged him to go on the game show “Jeopardy!”  “We all know Brinner would clean up on there,” said teammate and longtime friend Kaylen Pinkerton.  “He knows everything!”

Brinson had always ignored the suggestion.  But with the show now offering its qualifying test online, the blueliner finally took the plunge during the offseason.  “I figured why not give it a shot?” said Brinson.  “I’ve always been a Jeopardy fan, so what’s the harm in trying?”

Apparently, he did well on the test, as he was then invited to audition for the show.  The audition, which was conducted over video conference, contained two parts.  The first part was another online test.  After scoring highly on that, Brinson was then invited to play a practice game against a couple of other hopefuls.

As part of the practice round, each of the contestants was asked to talk about themselves.  Brinson reported that the game coordinators were intrigued to learn that he is a hockey player.  “I hope I can spoil the stereotype of hockey players as toothless, fight-loving goons,” the defenseman said.  “A lot of us are quite thoughtful and interesting, and it will be good to show that to the world.”

So when can we expect to see Brinson on Jeopardy?  It’s not certain.  The coordinators didn’t tell Brinson or any of the auditioning contestants whether they would be invited on the show or not.  According to the show’s website, contestants who do well on the test and audition may be asked to compete at any time within a year and a half after their audition.

“I don’t know if I’ll even get to go on the show,” Brinson said.  “But honestly, it was fun even to try out.  I’m glad I let the guys talk me into it, no matter what happens.”

The blueliner said that he had one regret: he won’t be able to meet longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, who died late last year.  “Alex was a legend,” Brinson noted, “and it would have been an honor just to shake his hand and get to talk to him.  But who knows?  Maybe I’ll be on one of the first shows with the new host!  That would be pretty cool.”

“We’ve all been waiting a long time for this moment,” said Pinkerton.  “We can’t wait to see how The Brain matches up against other brains!”

CHL Update: Redline Score 4 in 3rd to Stun Owls

The Indianapolis Redline are a dangerous team.  Prior to this season, their roster formed the core of the Idaho Spuds, two-time defending CHL champions.  The Spuds’ success was built around a high-octane offense that could score in bunches.  This roster may be playing in a new city, but their scoring touch remains the same.  Just ask the Utah Owls, who learned that lesson the hard way this week, as a third-period rally turned a seemingly certain Redline defeat into a shocking 4-3 victory.

Through the first 40 minutes of the game, it appeared that Utah was going to cruise to an easy win.  Indianapolis goalie Brooks Copeland, making his return from an injury that had kept him out of the previous three games, didn’t look fully comfortable in the crease, and the Owls took advantage.  LW Simon Robek and D Paien LePieu scored on Copeland in the first period.  D George Brinson made it a 3-0 game on a blast from the point midway through the second.  Meanwhile, Utah netminder Yorke Baxter easily stopped all 19 Indy shots to that point.  Utah seemed to have the game in the bag.

In the locker room before the third period, Redline coach Tony Hunt tried to fire up his struggling team.  “Let’s see some life out there, a little more spark!” Hunt told his players.  “Over in the other locker room, I bet they’ve already chalked this one up as a W.  But I know we can take this one!  What say we go out there and shock the hell out of everybody?”

C Titus Jameson had had the Redline’s best looks to that point, only to be robbed by a couple of great saves and a ping off the post.  Inspired by Hunt’s pep talk, he made good by banging in a shot off the right post just 15 seconds into the third period to spoil Baxter’s shutout.  Indianapolis kept up the pressure, outdoing Utah on shot attempts 10-4 in the first five minutes of the period.  But when Jameson was whistled for slashing at the 5:49 mark of the period, the Redline’s comeback seemed to stall.  They successfully killed off the penalty, but the ice was no longer tilted in their direction.

The score remained 3-1 past the halfway mark of the period.  Then the home team got a badly-needed break, as Utah C Kyler White and LePieu were both hit with minor penalties about a minute apart, giving Indy an extended power play opportunity.  The Owls nearly killed it off, but with 18 seconds left on the second penalty, D Gray Torian jammed a shot under the crossbar to make it a 3-2 game.

Although Utah still had the lead, the crowd at Fairgrounds Coliseum sensed a momentum shift.  With just over 3 minutes left in the game, RW Alberto Fedregotti beat Baxter on the short side to tie it up.  And with less than 2 minutes remaining, the Redline set up in the offensive end.  D Jay Brewster fired a shot toward the upper left corner of the net, but Baxter knocked it down.  Brewster won the battle for the rebound and fed it across the ice to Jameson, who found RW Dylan Alizarin streaking into.   the slot. Alizarin tucked it between Baxter’s legs for what proved to be the winning goal.

“That’s what this team can do!” crowed a grinning Hunt after the game.  “We’ve never out of it, never.  This offense is a big scary machine.  Everyone else should look out!”

The season is young, and the West looks highly competitive so far.  But the Redline certainly look like they have the horsepower to win a third title in a row.

Continue reading “CHL Update: Redline Score 4 in 3rd to Stun Owls”

CHL Update: West Rolls to Rout in All-Star Game

In the first two CHL All-Star Games, the home team had come away with the win.  With this year’s contest taking place at Hartford’s Aetna Center, the East was hoping that history would repeat itself.  Unfortunately, the Western squad had other ideas.  They broke the game open with a four-goal eruption in the second period, and wound up cruising to a 7-2 win.

“I’ve coached every one of these, and each time is a different experience,” said East coach Jeffrey Marsh.  “This time, we got the experience of what it feels like to get run over by a Mack truck.”

The most critical stretch of the game was in the middle of the second period, when the West scored three times in a three-minute span.  The game was competitive through the first period, when the score stood 2-1 in the West’s favor.  The teams traded goals early in the second, with Idaho Spuds LW Terry Cresson striking first and Hartford Harpoons RW Felix Delorme answering a few minutes later.  Then came the West’s big run.

Milwaukee Hogs C Yegor Nestorov got things going by going five-hole on Oshawa Drive G Hector Orinoco a few seconds shy of the the nine-minute mark.  A minute and a half later, Delorme coughed up the puck to Cresson on a bad pass in the neutral zone.  Cresson found Utah Owls D George “Brain” Brinson, who got Orinoco to commit down low, then went high to find the twine for a three-goal lead.  Just over a minute after that, Spuds D Brady Prussian fired a shot from near the blue line that beat a screened Orinoco.  Suddenly, a 3-2 game was 6-2, and the West had control of the game from there.

“That was the game right there, absolutely,” said West coach Gilbert McCoyne.  “We felt the ice tilting in our direction, and we decided to keep the hammer down and take advantage of that.  And we did.”

McCoyne also praised his team for spreading the offensive load around.  “I loved the way that all three lines and all of our D pairings were engaged and involved on offense,” the coach said.  Each of the West’s seven goals was scored by a different player.

Hogs D Conrad van Rijn received All-Star MVP honors for recording a most unusual achievement: a Gordie Howe hat trick (that is, a goal, an assist, and a fight.)  van Rijn got the fight out of the way first, dropping the mitts with Halifax Atlantics D Axel Borgstrom early in the second period.  Less than two minutes after he got out of the box, van Rijn got the primary assist for setting up Nestorov’s goal.  Then, in the third period, van Rijn redirected a shot past the East’s backup netminder, Eugene Looney of the Cleveland Centurions, to complete the feat.

“I don’t know what kind of maniac gets into a fight in the All-Star game,” said McCoyne, “but at least Connie went on to get the Gordie.  Good for him!”

van Rijn, who was reportedly unaware of his accomplishment until the game ended, received a sailboat from Morris Yachts, a Maine-based company.  “It is a beautiful boat,” said the Milwaukee defenseman.  “I want to sail it after the season, when the weather is more warm.”

Continue reading “CHL Update: West Rolls to Rout in All-Star Game”

2020 CHL All-Star Rosters

The day after the SHL’s All-Star Game, their minor league will be holding its third annual All-Star contest.  The game will take place at the Aetna Center, home of the Hartford Harpoons. The rosters for the game, along with each player’s current stats, are below.

 

EAST ALL-STARS

Coach: Jeffrey “Swampy” Marsh (Virginia)

 

First Line

LW: Fendrick Scanlan, Cleveland (13 G, 10 A, 23 Pts, 23 Blk, 52 PIM, +4)

D: Morris Starling, Baltimore (10 G, 13 A, 23 Pts, 31 Blk, 10 PIM, -2)

C: Liam Engstrom, Hartford (13 G, 25 A, 38 Pts, 15 Blk, 2 PIM, +22)

D: Brett Stolte, Hartford (12 G, 13 A, 25 Pts, 37 Blk, 39 PIM, +3)

RW: Felix Delorme, Hartford (10 G, 17 A, 27 Pts, 20 Blk, 2 PIM, +22)

 

Second Line

LW: Jarmann Fischer, Halifax (8 G, 14 A, 22 Pts, 14 Blk, 16 PIM, -1)

D: Russ Klemmer, Oshawa (2 G, 22 A, 24 Pts, 63 Blk, 10 PIM, -1)

C: Dwight Flynn, Halifax (16 G, 21 A, 37 Pts, 11 Blk, 8 PIM, +3)

D: Burton Cullidge, Cleveland (1 G, 18 A, 19 Pts, 70 Blk, 19 PIM, +5)

RW: Anders Pedersen, Oshawa (12 G, 16 A, 28 Pts, 11 Blk, 14 PIM, -3)

 

Third Line

LW: Maurice Coutard, Baltimore (11 G, 11 A, 22 Pts, 9 Blk, 12 PIM, -18)

D: Teddy Morrison, Halifax (4 G, 13 A, 17 Pts, 57 Blk, 14 PIM, -2)

C: Ron Yaeckel, Virginia (10 G, 19 A, 29 Pts, 23 Blk, 41 PIM, +10)

D: Axel Borgstrom, Halifax (7 G, 9 A, 16 Pts, 54 Blk, 27 PIM, -9)

RW: Steve Brandon, Cleveland (12 G, 10 A, 22 Pts, 23 Blk, 24 PIM, +4)

 

Goalies

Hector Orinoco, Oshawa (13-8-2, 2.11 GAA, .918 save %)

Eugene Looney, Cleveland (9-12-3, 1.97 GAA, .917 save %)

 

WEST ALL-STARS

Coach: Gilbert McCoyne (Idaho)

 

First Line

LW: Terry Cresson, Idaho (8 G, 22 A, 30 Pts, 13 Blk, 12 PIM, +14)

D: Trevor Lockwood, Omaha (7 G, 20 A, 27 Pts, 36 Blk, 20 PIM, +5)

C: Lloyd “Goofy” Banjax, Utah (16 G, 23 A, 39 Pts, 28 Blk, 20 PIM, +14)

D: Brady Prussian, Idaho (14 G, 12 A, 26 Pts, 40 Blk, 16 PIM, +13)

RW: Britt Cadmium, Idaho (14 G, 15 A, 29 Pts, 21 Blk, 15 PIM, +16)

 

Second Line

LW: Chuck Alley, Utah (8 G, 19 A, 27 Pts, 29 Blk, 6 PIM, +14)

D: George Brinson, Utah (8 G, 20 A, 28 Pts, 26 Blk, 26 PIM, +11)

C: Yegor Nestorov, Milwaukee (16 G, 11 A, 27 Pts, 15 Blk, 8 PIM, -10)

D: Brian Coldivar, Minnesota (15 G, 10 A, 25 Pts, 32 Blk, 18 PIM, -3)

RW: Harris Wondolowski, Utah (16 G, 17 A, 33 Pts, 11 Blk, 14 PIM, +3)

 

Third Line

LW: Rick Crisak, Idaho (5 G, 22 A, 27 Pts, 8 Blk, 32 PIM, +18)

D: Conrad van Rijn, Milwaukee (3 G, 24 A, 27 Pts, 72 Blk, 39 PIM, -5)

C: Nikolai Valkov, Colorado Springs (16 G, 11 A, 27 Pts, 8 Blk, 24 PIM, -15)

D: Laszlo Cierny, Minnesota (5 G, 18 A, 23 Pts, 58 Blk, 36 PIM, -3)

RW: James Clay, Milwaukee (13 G, 15 A, 28 Pts, 16 Blk, 12 PIM, -4)

 

Goalies

Kelvin White, Idaho (14-5-1, 2.07 GAA, .927 save %)

Kostya Arsenyev, Minnesota (9-4-1, 1.92 GAA, .933 save %)