- On Monday, the Dakota Jackalopes activated C Tanner Brooks from the injured list. Shortly before the All-Star break, Brooks suffered an upper-body injury. Although the injury initially did not seem that serious, Brooks wound up missing over three weeks. As the Jackalopes had an available roster spot, they did not need to make a compensating move to activate Brooks.
- Also on Monday, the Hershey Bliss‘ CHL affiliate in Milwaukee placed LW Karl Gjovik on the injured list. Gjovik exited in the first period of Sunday’s 3-1 win over Cleveland after being upended on a devastating check, and did not return. He is expected to miss at least two weeks. To replace Gjovik, Milwaukee signed F Jerry Cazenovia to a short-term contract.
- On Wednesday, the Hamilton Pistols activated C Marco Venezio from the injured list. The veteran center missed 10 games with a lower=body injury suffered just before the All-Star break. In order to make room for Venezio, the Pistols reassigned C Hilliard Macy to their CHL affiliate in Oshawa, and released F Bobby Warner from Oshawa.
- Wednesday was the trading deadline. The following trades were consummated at the deadline:
- The Michigan Gray Wolves traded RW Gordon Lunsford to the Boston Badgers for RW Rory Socarra. (More details here.) After the trade, Boston demoted RW Felix Delorme to their CHL affiliate in Hartford, and recalled F Jacques Bacon from Hartford.
- The Gray Wolves traded LW Misha Petronov, F Cary Estabrook, and D Brandon Arrowood to the New York Night for LW Flynn Danner, F Henry Constantine, and D Anson Brank. (More details here.) After the trade, Michigan demoted LW Fendrick Scanlan to their CHL affiliate in Cleveland, and New York promoted RW Harris Wondolowski from their affiliate in Utah.
- The Dakota Jackalopes traded D Victor Addison to Boston in exchange for D Jackson Creed. After the trade, the Badgers demoted D Bjorn Tollefson to their minor-league affiliate in Hartford.
- Michigan traded C Warren Marlow to the Quebec Tigres in exchange for C Phil Miller, LW Carl Bleyer, and a 1st-round draft pick. (More details here.) After the trade, the Gray Wolves released F Caleb Moulton. The Tigres demoted C Dwight Flynn to their CHL affiliate in Halifax, and signed F Tim Daisey to a minor-league deal.
- On Saturday, the Anchorage Igloos recalled RW Jean Pierre Fleury from their CHL affiliate in Minnesota. The Igloos demoted Fleury to Minnesota during the All-Star break, and he played brilliantly there, recording 19 points in 12 games, including the CHL’s first-ever five-goal game. To make room for Fleury, the Igloos reassigned RW Lionel LaNeige to Minnesota.
- On Monday, the Kansas City Smoke‘s CHL affiliate in Omaha activated D Lowell Sharkey from the injured list. Sharkey, who is a highly-regarded prospect in the Kansas City organization, missed five weeks with a lower-body injury. In order to make room for Sharkey on the roster, the team released D Kjell Hanson. The 24-year-old Hanson appeared in 15 games for Omaha, recording 2 assists and a -4 rating.
- On Friday, the Dakota Jackalopes placed C Tanner Brooks on the injured list. The 23-year-old Brooks suffered an upper-body injury during Thursday’s 4-1 win over Quebec, and is expected to miss at least three weeks. To fill in during Brooks’ absence, the Jackalopes promoted C Jacob Cunniff from their CHL affiliate in Idaho. Cunniff is Idaho’s leading scorer, with 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists) so far on the season.
- Also on Friday, the Hershey Bliss activated LW Russell Nahorniak from the injured list. Nahorniak missed five weeks with a lower-body injury. In order to accommodate Nahorniak’s return, the Bliss sent LW Sergei Tarisov back to their affiliate in Milwaukee. Tarisov appeared in 13 games during Nahorniak’s absence, recording 3 goals and a +3 rating. To make room for Tarisov on Milwaukee’s roster, the team released F Jerry Casenovia.
- In one more Friday move, the Saskatchewan Shockers placed D Chris “Lightning” Oflyng on the injured list. Oflyng had to be helped off the ice after being slammed head-first into the boards on Thursday, and is expected to miss up to six weeks. The loss is devastating to the surging Shockers, as Oflyng led the team in points with 30 (8 goals, 22 assists). To fill Oflyng’s roster spot, Saskatchewan called up D Pierre Chappelle from their CHL affiliate in Virginia. The 31-year-old Chappelle was tied for the Virginia team lead in goals (with 15) and points (with 29).
- On Saturday, the Hamilton Pistols placed C Marco Venezio on the injured list. Venezio suffered a lower-body injury during Saturday’s game against Saskatchewan, and is expected to miss three to four weeks. Venezio has been a stalwart on Hamilton’s second line, putting up 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists) on the season. To fill Venezio’s spot on the roster, Hamilton called up C Hilliard Macy from their affiliate in Oshawa. It’s the second SHL stint for the 20-year-old Macy, who appeared in 5 games for Hamilton earlier in the season. The Pistols also signed F Bobby Warner to a minor-league contract.
- Also on Saturday, the Shockers placed C Cyril Perignon on the injured list. Perignon suffered a lower-body injury against Hamilton on Saturday; he is expected to miss at least a month. Perignon has recorded 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) and a +1 rating on the season for Saskatchewan. To replace Perignon, the Shockers called up C Trent Harlow from Virginia. At the time of his callup, Harlow led the Rhinos with 30 points.
- 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 Monday, the Kansas City Smoke‘s CHL affiliate in Omaha placed D Lowell Sharkey on the injured list. Sharkey suffered a serious lower-body injury during Sunday’s game against Idaho, and is expected to be sidelined for over a month. The loss is a major blow to the organization, as the 20-year-old blueliner is a prized prospect who was off to a strong start, with 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) and a +6 rating in 9 games. To fill Sharkey’s spot on the roster, the team signed D Fyodor Agronozov. The 26-year-old Agronozov spent last year in Oshawa, where he recorded 20 points (3 goals, 17 assists) in 62 games.
- Also on Monday, the Dakota Jackalopes‘ CHL affiliate in Idaho placed D Georg Ochre on the injured list. Ochre, who was last season’s CHL Finals MVP, sustained an upper-body injury on Sunday against Omaha. Much like Sharkey, Ochre was playing quite well; he recorded 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists) in 9 games before his injury. Unlike Sharkey, Ochre is expected to miss only 2 to 3 weeks. Ochre’s spot will be taken by D Gerry Michaud, a 25-year-old who recorded 5 assists in 57 games with Maine last season.
- On Friday, the Hamilton Pistols demoted F Michael Jennings to their CHL affiliate in Oshawa, and called up C Hilliard Macy from Oshawa. The Pistols were in need of a center after Calvin Frye suffered a lower-body injury in Thursday’s 7-6 win over Hershey. Although Frye is day-to-day, Jennings is a natural winger and the Pistols didn’t want to plug him in at center for any extended length of time. The 20-year-old MAcy has had a solid season in Oshawa, with 7 goals and 3 assists in 11 games.
- Also on Friday, the Hershey Bliss placed LW Russell Nahorniak on the injured list. Nahorniak suffered a major lower-body injury when he was upended by a violent check in Thursday’s game. He is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks. Nahorniak was a key contributor on Hershey’s second line, with 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists) in 11 games. To fill Nahorniak’s spot, the Bliss called up LW Sergei Tarisov from their affiliate in Milwaukee. Tarisov, 22, had put up 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in 11 minor-league games this season. The Bliss also signed F Jerry Cazenovia to a short-term contract to replace Tarisov in Milwaukee.
When the Hamilton Pistols were building the team to defend their title, they knew that the salary cap would be a challenge. In the eyes of most observers, they did a good job putting together a strong squad while remaining under the cap. But the savings had to come somewhere, and the Pistols chose to skimp a bit on their minor-league roster. To fill the vacancies with their CHL affiliate, the Oshawa Drive, Hamilton signed a number of minimum-salary journeymen, players that no other team wanted.
It was widely assumed that Oshawa would spend the season in the basement. Not ideal, but a small price to pay if the Pistols could defend their title. Well, Hamilton’s title defense is off to a fine start, but the Drive aren’t sticking to the script. Instead of collapsing, they’ve become one of the CHL’s two undefeated teams (the Milwaukee Hogs are the other).
How did they do it? According to Oshawa’s players, it’s coach Harvey Williams that deserves the credit. Williams, one of the league’s most colorful characters, has never been one for beating around the bush. So when his players showed up for their first practice, the coach didn’t mince words, and addressed the preseason predictions about his club head on.
“I’ve been reading about you guys,” Williams told his players. “Seems like everyone thinks you’re a bunch of scrubs and rejects they pulled off the trash pile. Seems like the only reason you’re here is because no one else would have you. Seems like everyone thinks you’re the worst piece-of-[expletive] team in the league.”
After a pause, Williams grinned. “Which sounds perfect to me. ‘Cause you know who else they say [expletive] like that about? Me. I’m a sloppy old drunk with a bad ticker who probably oughta be in jail or dead. The only reason I’m here is because they can’t afford anybody better, or so they think.”
“Well, guess what?” the coach added. “[Expletive] ’em all. They can all go straight to hell. While you’re getting ready for this season, I want you thinking about one thing and one thing only: the look on the faces of all those bastards when we go out and kick the [expletive] out of ’em. It’s gonna be mighty sweet.”
Williams’ players eagerly took his message to heart, and they’ve been making the so-called “experts” eat their words ever since. Leading the cahrge are a pair of players who believe they shouldn’t be in the CHL at all.
Twenty-year-old center Hilliard Macy expected to be up with the Pistols this season. Hamilton had multiple openings in the middle, as both Eddie Costello and J.C. Marais were on expiring contracts. The front office assured Macy he would be a Pistol in 2020. But his rookie season was underwhelming, and the team decided he wasn’t ready. They re-signed Marais, added veteran Marco Venezio, and sentenced Macy to another year in Oshawa.
For Macy, this was a crushing disappointment. But Williams encouraged him to think of it as an opportunity. “They want you to prove them wrong,” the coach told Macy. “They want you to get pissed off and play so well that they have to bring you up. I know it hurts now, but this could be the best thing that ever happened to you.”
Thus inspired, Macy is off to a red-hot start. He’s tied for second in the CHL with five goals, including a hat trick that fueled Friday’s 4-3 win over Baltimore. His game has also acquired a physical edge that was lacking before.
“Coach Williams told me to play mad, and that’s what I’m doing,” said Macy. “He didn’t let me get down on myself, and that’s made a real difference for me.”
Goalie Hector Orinoco, 24, signed a two-year extension in the offseason went to training camp with the Pistols and played several preseason games. He played brilliantly – in fact, he handily outplayed both starter Lasse Koskinen and incumbent backup Ron Mason. But both Koskinen and Mason were too expensive to demote, so it was Orinoco who wound up in Oshawa yet again.
Williams reminded Orinoco that Mason’s contract is up at the end of the season. “They want you to be Lasse’s backup next season,” the coach said. “You’re younger and cheaper. As long as you play good, they won’t go looking around for someone else. So don’t give ’em a reason to look.”
Thus far, Orinoco’s been just as brilliant as he was in the preseason, going 3-0-0 with a league-leading 0.98 GAA and a .949 save percentage. “The way I see it, this is my audition,” Orinoco told reporters. “Hopefully that’s for the Pistols, but if not, then someone else will notice and pick me up, If I keep playing like this, they won’t be able to ignore me.”
There’s a long way to go, and it’s anybody’s guess whether the Drive can keep up their pace. But there’s no doubt that Williams has his team thnking and playing like champions, instead of the “trash pile” that the experts expected.
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.
Coach: Patrick Chillingham (Minnesota)
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)
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)
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)
Hobie Sanford, Milwaukee (7-8-3, 2.02 GAA, .931 save %)
Curt Freeze, Minnesota (12-8-1, 2.07 GAA, .924 save %)
Coach: Jeffrey “Swampy” Marsh (Virginia)
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)
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)
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)
Eugene Looney, Cleveland (8-7-0, 1.79 GAA, .925 save %)
Jonathan Crane, Maine (9-9-2, 2.06 GAA, .917 save %)