CHL Update: West Wins All-Star Goalfest

All-Star Games are generally not famous for their defense.  There’s no glory in blocking shots or wall work in an All-Star contest, and certainly nobody wants to risk getting hurt.  So games generally turn into shooting galleries, and high scores are commonplace.

Even by All-Star standards, though, Thursday’s CHL All-Star Game at the Utah Owls’ Wasatch Arena was an offensive showcase.  The teams delivered a high-octane contest at high altitude, combining for 97 shots, filling the arena with the booming crack of slapper after slapper.

“It was a total gong show out there,” said West coach Patrick Chillingham.  “It seemed like as soon as you got the puck on your stick, if you could see the goal, you were shooting.”

In the end, the Western squad managed to hold off the visitors from the East, taking the win by the preposterous and magnificent score of 9-6.  “That’s not a hockey score,” said Owls RW Harris Wondolowski, who had two of those goals.  “It’s a football score.”

At first, the contest seemed fairly even.  After a mere 14 minutes, the scored stood 3-3.  When neither team scored over the final six minutes of the first period, the buzz in the arena quieted; the fans seemed a little bored when the goal light wasn’t flashing constantly.

It was the second period when the West took firm control of the game.  The East actually took a brief 4-3 lead when Baltimore Blue Crabs LW Alan Youngman cashed in on a slapshot from the left faceoff circle.  But then the West scored three straight goals in a six-minute span to seize the momentum of the game for good.  Omaha Ashcats D Trevor Lockwood tipped a shot past the East’s netminder, the Cleveland CenturionsEugene Looney, a little over six minutes into the second to tie it up.  A couple minutes later, Minnesota Freeze D Laszlo Cierny scored on a blast from the blue line to put the West ahead.  Finally, Milwaukee Hogs LW Gabriel Swindonburg finished a breakway by going top-shelf on Looney for a two-goal Western lead.

“We were stuck chasing the game after that, kind of like a dog chasing a car down the street,” said East coach Jeffrey “Swampy” Marsh.  “And just like that dog, we never caught up.”

In a special moment for the hometown fans in Utah, Owls C Lloyd “Goofy” Banjax won MVP honors.  He assisted on all three of the West’s second period goals, and scored one of his own in the third to help put the game away.  Along with the award, Banjax received a Polaris Rush snowmobile, perfect for carving trails through the Wasatch Mountains.

“I don’t know if it was a good idea to give me one of those things,” said Banjax.  “I barely even have a drivers’ license.  But hey, I bet I could drive this thing through the lobby of a hotel.  That’d be fun!”

 

CHL All Star Game
East All Stars @ West All Stars, Wasatch Arena

                   1   2   3   OT   F
East All Stars     3   1   2        6
West All Stars     3   3   3        9

 
East All Stars         G   A PTS PIM +/-   West All Stars         G   A PTS PIM +/-

Youngman        LW     2   0   2   0   0   Sikanen         LW     2   0   2   0   0
Melicar         D      0   2   2   0   0   Black           D      0   0   0   0   0
Barnhill        C      1   2   3   0   0   Wilcox          C      0   2   2   0   0
Bodett          D      1   2   3   0   0   Prussian        D      0   1   1   0   0
Brandon         RW     0   1   1   0   0   van der Veen    RW     0   1   1   0   0
Laronov         LW     1   1   2   0   1   Cresson         LW     0   0   0   0  -1
Morrison        D      0   2   2   0  -1   Cierny          D      1   2   3   0   1
Macy            C      1   0   1   0   1   Culp            C      0   2   2   0  -1
Druzek          D      0   0   0   0  -1   Sharkey         D      0   1   1   0   1
Archer          RW     0   2   2   0   1   Wondolowski     RW     2   0   2   0  -1
Pescatelli      LW     0   0   0   0  -5   Swindonburg     LW     1   1   2   0   5
Corbetta        D      0   0   0   0  -3   Lockwood        D      1   0   1   0   3
Brooks          C      0   0   0   0  -5   Banjax          C      1   3   4   0   5
Cullidge        D      0   0   0   0  -3   Werner          D      0   3   3   0   3
Delorme         RW     0   0   0   0  -5   Hagendosh       RW     1   1   2   0   5
----------------------------------------   ----------------------------------------
TOTALS                 6  12  18   0  -4   TOTALS                 9  17  26   0   4

Scratches:
EAS:  none
WAS:  none

 
East All Stars      SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Looney              29    23    6  0.793
Crane               22    19    3  0.864

West All Stars      SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Sanford             24    20    4  0.833
Freeze              22    20    2  0.909

 

First Period
------------

GOALS:
00:53  EAS  Barnhill (Brandon, Melicar)
03:00  WAS  Hagendosh (Sharkey, Cierny)
10:17  WAS  Sikanen (Werner, Wilcox)
10:37  EAS  Laronov (Bodett, Melicar)
11:29  WAS  Wondolowski (Cierny, Culp)
13:57  EAS  Youngman (Barnhill, Morrison)

PENALTIES:
None

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
02:40  EAS  Youngman (Barnhill, Bodett)
06:17  WAS  Lockwood (Werner, Banjax)
08:07  WAS  Cierny (Banjax, Swindonburg)
12:26  WAS  Swindonburg (Banjax)

PENALTIES:
None

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
04:24  EAS  Macy (Morrison, Archer)
05:30  WAS  Banjax (Hagendosh, Prussian)
11:45  WAS  Wondolowski (Werner, Culp)
12:24  EAS  Bodett (Archer, Laronov)
16:58  WAS  Sikanen (Wilcox, van der Veen)

PENALTIES:
None


 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
East All Stars    11  13  22       46
West All Stars    15  14  22       51

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

East All Stars   0 for 0
West All Stars   0 for 0

 
INJURIES
--------

None
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2019 CHL All-Star Rosters

The day after the SHL’s All-Star Game, their minor league will be holding its second annual All-Star contest.  The game will take place at Wasatch Arena, home of the Utah Owls. The rosters for the game, along with each player’s current stats, are below.

WEST ALL-STARS

Coach: Patrick Chillingham (Minnesota)

 

First Line

LW: Veikko Sikanen, Omaha (16 G, 19 A, 35 Pts, 42 PIM, +16)

D: Rodney Black, Idaho (19 G, 10 A, 29 Pts, 10 PIM, +6)

C: Dale Wilcox, Idaho (13 G, 25 A, 38 Pts, 16 PIM, +16)

D: Brady Prussian, Idaho (15 G, 13 A, 28 Pts, 16 PIM, +6)

RW: Adriaen van der Veen, Omaha (16 G, 23 A, 39 Pts, 6 PIM, +16)

 

Second Line

LW: Terry Cresson, Idaho (11 G, 22 A, 33 Pts, 16 PIM, +16)

D: Laszlo Cierny, Minnesota (6 G, 19 A, 25 Pts, 46 PIM, +2)

C: Foster Culp, Colorado Springs (16 G, 16 A, 32 Pts, 12 PIM, Even)

D: Lowell Sharkey, Omaha (4 G, 19 A, 23 Pts, 12 PIM, +8)

RW: Harris Wondolowski, Utah (15 G, 24 A, 39 Pts, 18 PIM, +2)

 

Third Line

LW: Gabriel Swindonburg, Milwaukee (19 G, 10 A, 29 Pts, 34 PIM, -4)

D: Trevor Lockwood, Omaha (12G, 14 A, 26 Pts, 29 PIM, +11)

C: Lloyd “Goofy” Banjax, Utah (13 G, 19 A, 32 Pts, 10 PIM, -6)

D: Craig Werner, Utah (7 G, 17 A, 24 Pts, 12 PIM, +2)

RW: Joel Hagendosh, Colorado Springs (13 G, 20 A, 33 Pts, 63 PIM, -13)

 

Goalies

Hobie Sanford, Milwaukee (7-8-3, 2.02 GAA, .931 save %)

Curt Freeze, Minnesota (12-8-1, 2.07 GAA, .924 save %)

 

EAST ALL-STARS

Coach: Jeffrey “Swampy” Marsh (Virginia)

 

First Line

LW: Alan Youngman, Baltimore (18 G, 22 A, 40 Pts, 22 PIM, +17)

D: Ambroz Melicar, Baltimore (11 G, 25 A, 36 Pts, 10 PIM, +2)

C: Tucker Barnhill, Baltimore (17 G, 30 A, 47 Pts, 24 PIM, +17)

D: Elvis Bodett, Oshawa (14 G, 8 A, 22 Pts, 19 PIM, +12)

RW: Steve Brandon, Cleveland (19 G, 12 A, 31 Pts, 24 PIM, +2)

 

Second Line

LW: Yuri Laronov, Virginia (16 G, 15 A, 31 Pts, 16 PIM, -5)

D: Teddy Morrison, Maine (8 G, 13 A, 21 Pts, 14 PIM, Even)

C: Hilliard Macy, Oshawa (15 G, 18 A, 33 Pts, 12 PIM, +15)

D: Casimir Druzek, Virginia (2 G, 20 A, 22 Pts, 27 PIM, -4)

RW: Sidney Archer, Baltimore (15 G, 16 A, 31 Pts, 2 PIM, +17)

 

Third Line

LW: Marty “Fish” Pescatelli, Hartford (12 G, 16 A, 28 Pts, 39 PIM, -9)

D: Roscoe “Ruckus” Corbetta, Virginia (6 G, 12 A, 18 Pts, 70 PIM, -5)

C: Tanner Brooks, Virginia (19 G, 12 A, 31 Pts, 10 PIM, -5)

D: Burton Cullidge, Cleveland (1 G, 15 A, 15 Pts, 42 PIM, -4)

RW: Felix Delorme, Hartford (15 G, 13 A, 28 Pts, 14 PIM, -9)

 

Goalies

Eugene Looney, Cleveland (8-7-0, 1.79 GAA, .925 save %)

Jonathan Crane, Maine (9-9-2, 2.06 GAA, .917 save %)

CHL Update: Utah’s Francis Nets First-Ever Hat Trick

Ed Francis is the very definition of a journeyman hockey player.  The 29-year-old has spent his entire career as a steady but unremarkable depth defenseman.  After graduating from Lake Huron State in 2010, Francis spent a couple years playing in Switzerland before joining the SHL.  In four seasons split between Washington and Saskatchewan, he never made much of an impact, never scoring more than 7 goals or recording more than 11 points in a season.  He is known as a hard worker and a positive clubhouse personality (earning the nickname “Easy Ed” for his gentle demeanor), but he hasn’t been quite fast or talented enough to nail down a starting job.

Ed Francis

Francis was a free agent in the offseason, in a crowded market for blueliners.  When it became clear that he wouldn’t receive a major-league contract, he gave serious thought to retiring.  Francis had an open offer to become a high-school gym teacher in his hometown of Charlevoix, Michigan.  He and his wife Judy have two young children, and the thought of spending less time on the road and more time raising his kids held considerable appeal.

In the end, though, Francis decided “I hadn’t gotten the game out of my blood quite yet.”  He signed a minor-league deal with the New York Night and reported to their CHL affiliate, the Utah Owls.  Finally having a chance to play every day, the defenseman has found joy with the Owls.  And this week, he recorded an achievement he never imagined possible: he scored a hat trick in Utah’s wild 6-5 overtime win over the Idaho Spuds on Sunday.

It was unusual enough that Francis was the first one on the board, receiving a pass at the blue line from RW Mickey Simpson and firing a slapshot past Idaho goalie Kelvin White less than 2 minutes into the game.  His tally was quickly forgotten, though, as the Spuds beat Utah netminder Corey Franklin-Lee three times in a five-minute span to take a two-goal lead at the first intermission.

The Owls quickly erased the deficit with a pair of scores early in the second period, only for D Brady Prussian’s slapper to put Idaho on top again.  But just past the halfway point of the second, Utah generated some pressure in the slot in front of White.  Francis crashed the net, picked up a deflection from C Gilles Valmont, and stuffed it over White’s catching glove for his second goal of the game, tying it at 4.

“At that point, I was just focused on the fact that we’d tied it up,” said Francis.  “I wasn’t even thinking about [a hat trick].”

At 1:25 in the third period, Francis fired another blue-line shot that RW Harris Wondolowski redirected into the net, giving the Owls a 5-4 lead, their first edge since Francis’ opening tally.

“A three-point game?  That was huge for me, probably my first one since high school,” Francis noted afterward.  “And it gave us the lead, which was great.”  Little did he know that the best was yet to come.

The Spuds didn’t go away quietly, as Prussian went five-hole on the power play to equalize the score again.  Somewhat surprisingly, neither team scored again in regulation, sending things to overtime.

About a minute into the extra session, Francis joined a three-on-two rush for the Owls.  “Usually on an odd-man rush like that, I don’t have the speed to be part of it,” he explained.  “But I happened to be in a good spot when Gilles picked it off and started going the other way.”

Valmont found RW Jake Grifka below the hash marks.  Grifka faked a shot, then slid a pass to Francis, who went top-shelf over a sprawling White to win the game as the crowd at Wasatch Arena exploded with delight.

It wasn’t until their hats began hitting the ice that Francis realized what he’d done.  His mouth flew open as his teammates lifted him up and carried him off the ice.

Francis still seemed in shock as he talked to reporters after the game.  “In my whole life, I never imagined I’d get a hatty,” he said.  “It never even crossed my mind, not in my craziest dreams.  It’s a good thing I didn’t know it was happening at the time, or I’d have shot it fifty feet over the goalie’s head.”

Owls coach Wiley Kiyotie was delighted by the unexpected achievement.  “Ed’s the kind of guy who really deserves a moment like this,” Kiyotie told reporters.  “He’s paid his dues, and he works his butt off and never complains.  A guy like that ought to get to be the hero once in his life, at least.”

Once his postgame interviews were over, Francis pulled out his phone and called home to Judy, the wife who’d agreed to stay back in Michigan with the kids while her husband chased his dream for one more season.  When she answered, Francis exclaimed: “Honey, you’ll never believe what just happened to me!”

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