- 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.
Jean Pierre Fleury didn’t expect to be playing with the Minnesota Freeze this season. Last season, Fleury made the Freeze’s parent club, the Anchorage Igloos, out of training camp and remained with the team all season. Fleury assumed he was with the Igloos to stay after nailing down a spot on the third line. But after putting up dismal numbers in the first half of the season – recording just 2 points – the Igloos ran out of patience and sent him back to the Freeze as a wake-up call.
“Even though I knew I was not playing well, this was shocking to me,” said Fleury. “I believed I would always be in the majors.”
Shocking though it may have been, Fleury definitely got the message. He has played like a man possessed since arriving back in Minnesota. In his 12 games with the Freeze, the winger scored 14 goals and notched 5 assists. That flurry of brilliance was highlighted by his performance on Thursday, when he became the first player in CHL history to score 5 goals in a game.
“When JP arrived, the first thing I told him was ‘I hope you play well enough that I never see you again,'” said Freeze coach Petr Kokrda. “He clearly didn’t need me to tell him twice.”
Fleury’s record-setting performance occurred in a 7-1 rout of the Idaho Spuds. Perhaps even more impressive than the five goals themselves was the fact that he took barely more than a period to score them.
Minnesota went on the power play in the game’s opening minute when Spuds D Jay Brewster was called for elbowing. Fleury got his first goal on that power play, redirected a shot from D Laszlo Cierny past Idaho goalie Kelvin White. About three minutes later, Freeze D Brian Coldivar picked off a pass in the neutral zone and fed Fleury, who beat White on the short side for his second tally. Just over a minu, who te after that, Minnesota C Tanner Everest won a faceoff in the offensive zone and flipped it to Fleury, who tucked it under the crossbar. The game was just five and a half minutes old and Fleury already had a hat trick, stunning the crowd at Idaho’s Treasure Valley Arena.
D Richard Huckenchuk broke Fleury’s string of goals around the halfway mark of the period, scoring from the top of the faceoff circle to make it 4-0. But the Minnesota winger struck again before the period was over, firing a shot from the slot that deflected off White’s left pad and trickled into the net.
The Spuds yanked White in favor of backup Xavier St. Pierre after the first period. A little more than a minute into the second period, Fleury greeted St. Pierre by finishing an odd-man rush with a shot that beat St. Pierre on the glove side for his record-setting fifth tally of the night.
As amazing as it was, Fleury probably could have scored even more goals had not Kokrda not severely limited the minutes of his top line for the rest of the game, in order to give them a rest and spare Idaho further embarrassment.
“If JP had been playing his usual minutes, I really think he could have scored seven or eight, as crazy as that sounds,” said Kokrda after the game. “He was that locked in, and playing at that high a level.”
For his part, Fleury reacted modestly to his record-breaking performance. “I could not expect this at all,” he told reporters. “I am as surprised as everyone else.”
At week’s end, Fleury earned the reward he sought: he was promoted back to the Igloos. “JP did everything we could have asked him to do and more,” said Anchorage GM Will Thorndike. “If he can bring that same energy with him that he showed in Minnesota, he’ll be a huge asset to us as we make our playoff push. We’re not going to expect 5 goals in a game, though.”
The following transactions occurred during the All-Star break:
- The Anchorage Igloos demoted RW Jean Pierre Fleury and G Wendall Cantillon to their CHL affiliate in Minnesota and called up RW Lionel LaNeige and G Curt Freeze from Minnesota. Fleury has struggled badly this year, recording only 2 points in 20 games, and has been a healthy scratch in many recent games. Cantillon has posted a 2-4-2 record with a 4.04 GAA as the Igloos’ backup netminder this season. The 22-year-old LaNeige makes his SHL debut; he has recorded 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) in 32 games with Minnesota this year. Freeze, a longtime Anchorage prospect, has gone 5-11-2 with a 2.59 GAA and a .905 save percentage so far this seaosn.
- The Boston Badgers sent F Jacques Bacon and D Jackson Creed to their affiliate in Hartford, and recalled RW Felix Delorme and D Brett Stolte from Hartford. Bacon, a veteran who signed as a free agent in the offseason, has appeared in only 7 games for Boston and has yet to record a point. The Badgers are hoping that Delorme, nephew of Quebec coach Martin Delorme, can provide a spark for their stagnant offense. Delorme was a starter in the CHL All-Star Game, and has recorded 10 goals and 17 assists so far this season. The Badgers called up Creed from Hartford two and a half weeks ago; he played in 6 games and recorded an assist. Stolte, another CHL All-Star, has produced 12 goals and 13 assists so far this year.
- The Dakota Jackalopes demoted D Geoff Moultrie and promoted D Brady Prussian. Moultrie recorded 2 goals and a -2 rating in 14 games for Dakota this season; the team hopes to get him more regular playing time with their affiliate in Idaho. Prussian has produced 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) and a +13 rating with Idaho on the year.
- The Hamilton Pistols demoted D Torrey Ashmont and promoted D Russ Klemmer. Ashmont is a rookie who has struggled for ice time with the Pistols, appearing in only 9 games. He figures to start regularly with the team’s Oshawa affiliate. Klemmer, meanwhile, was a CHL All-Star; his 22 assists placed him in the league’s top ten.
- The Hershey Bliss demoted F Anton Lapointe and promoted RW James Clay. Lapointe, a capable defensive forward, has struggled to produce offensively at the SHL level; so far this year, he has produced two assists in 9 games. Clay, another CHL All-Star, led Hershey’s Milwaukee affiliate with 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists).
- The Kansas City Smoke demoted G Dennis Wampler and promoted G Eric Middleton. Kansas City’s 3.79 GAA is second-worst in the SHL, and Wampler (3-8-1, 4.06 GAA, .882 save percentage) has contributed to those woes. Middleton, an 18-year-old rookie, has thrived with the Smoke’s affiliate in Omaha, going 8-6-3 with a 2.06 GAA and a .929 save percentage.
- The Michigan Gray Wolves demoted RW Kelvin Starkey and F Cary Estabrook and promoted LW Fendrick Scanlan and RW Steve Brandon. The offensively-challenged Wolves shook up their forward depth, swapping out Starkey (1 goal in 24 games) and Estabrook (no points in 10 games) for the top two scorers (and All-Stars) with their Cleveland affiliate, Scanlan (13 goals, 10 assists) and Brandon (12 games, 10 assists).
- The New York Night demoted G Corey Franklin-Lee and recalled G Sherman Carter. This is the reverse of the transaction New York made two weeks earlier, when they sent Carter to their affiliate in Utah in order to regain his form and confidence. Carter went 4-2-1 with a 1.98 GAA and a .926 save percentage in Utah, while Franklin-Lee went 1-2-0 with a 3.00 GAA and a .925 save percentage in the Big Apple.
- The Quebec Tigres demoted C Phil Miller and promoted C Dwight Flynn. The veteran Miller has failed to produce in Quebec this season, with a mere two assists and a -10 rating in 27 games. Flynn, meanwhile, has produced at an All-Star level with Halifax this year, including 16 goals, 21 assists, and a +3 rating.
- The Saskatchewan Shockers signed D Kjell Hanson to a minor-league contract. The Shockers found themselves with a short minor-league roster after calling up D Pierre Chappelle and C Trent Harlow as injury replacements just before the All-Star break, and Hanson will help fill the void. The 24-year-Hanson started the year in the Kansas City organization, but the Smoke released him the week before the break.
- The Washington Galaxy demoted D Shane Gladchuk and promoted D Morris Starling. The rebuilding Galaxy wanted to give Starling, a CHL All-Star with Baltimore, some ice time at the SHL level. He led the with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists). Gladchuk appeared in 12 games with Washington, notching 3 assists and a -8 rating.
(Anchorage leads, 1-0)
If Game 1 sets the tone for the 2019 SHL Finals, fans are in for a treat. The Anchorage Igloos and Hamilton Pistols combined to give fans a fast-paced, highly-skilled, closely-contested thrill ride. The game was so closely contested, in fact, that it couldn’t be resolved in regulation. But in the end, C Jake Frost and the Igloos sent the fans at Arctic Circle Arena home happy with a 3-2 overtime win.
“This was a hockey master class,” said Frost. “Both teams were really on their toes and playing at a really, really high level. This series is gonna be lit.”
The energy on both sides was palpable even before the game started. As the national anthems played, players on both teams bounced up and down on their skates, like bulls waiting for the gate to open. It was little surprise that the Pistols, making their first Finals appearance, would be so fired up. But the champion Igloos were just as hyped.
That energy expressed itself in a frenetic first period. No one scored in the first, but not for a lack of trying: the teams combined to unleash 33 shots in the period, with Anchorage taking 20 of them. Igloos coach Sam Castor felt that the action was a little too frenzied, and cautioned his team between periods to moderate their pace a bit.
“I know our guys were trying to take the early lead and make a statement,” Castor said, “but the game was turning into a track meet, and we were flinging shots at the net as soon as we got the puck into their zone. I told them to be a little more deliberate and make our shots count.”
The first-period sugar high wore off in the second, and the game settled into a still-swift but reasonable tempo. It didn’t take the Igloos long to get their much-desired lead, as LW Les Collins scored on a slapshot from the slot just over a minute into the frame.
“I saw just enough daylight for the shot, so I took it,” said Collins.
A couple minutes afterward, though, Collins headed to the sin bin on a high-sticking call. Hamilton LW Steven Alexander wasted no time banging home a slapper of his own to tie the score.
“We know that if we can get the puck on Alex’s stick on the PP, good things will happen,” said C Calvin Frye.
The tie lasted barely more than 90 seconds before rookie Igloos LW Jean Pierre Fleury redirected a shot over the right pad of Pistols goalie Lasse Koskinen to give the home team a 2-1 lead. The champs’ confidence only grew as they killed off three additional penalties in the period. The Igloos adjusted their penalty-kill approach to overload toward Alexander, and the Pistols were unable to make them pay.
After two periods, the momentum seemed firmly in Anchorage’s corner, as they held onto their one-goal lead. But less than a minute into the frame, Collins was whistled for another penalty, this time for cross-checking. On the ensuing faceoff, Hamilton fed the puck to Alexander, as expected. But the star winger faked a shot, then slung a pass to D Clayton Risch, who fired it to fellow blueliner Hercules Mulligan. Mulligan then fired the shot past Igloos netminder Ty Worthington, who never seemed to see it. Tie game.
Collins, frustrated at taking the penalties that allowed Hamilton to score both their goals, was now fiercely determined to make up for it with another goal of his own. He got a chance midway through the period, when Koskinen bit on a fake slapper from C Nile Bernard, and Collins found himself with the puck and a yawning net. Unfortunately, he was so wound up that he fired the shot high over the crossbar. Collins then skated back to the bench and smashed his stick to bits, a rare display of emotion for the reserved forward.
The third period featured chances for both teams, but both Koskinen and Worthington made sensational stops to keep things deadlocked through the end of regulation.
Going into overtime, the Igloos were determined to take the win. “We weren’t about to let [the Pistols] get the jump on us on our ice,” said Frost.
In the extra session, Anchorage was able to control the play far better than they had in regulation. They repeatedly denied Hamilton opportunities to set up on offense, and kept most of the action in the other end. Finally, a bit over two minutes in, Frost and LW Jerry Koons broke out on a 2-on-1, which Koons finished by going top-shelf over Koskinen’s right shoulder.
“Winning the first one, that’s big for us,” said Koons. “But this is going to be a long series, and we’re going to have to stay sharp. That’s a talented bunch on the other side, that’s for sure.”
Pistols coach Keith Shields was encouraged by his team’s performance, loss notwithstanding. “We showed that we can go toe to toe with those guys,” Shields said. “The game could have gone either way. I believe we sent them a message that we need to be taken seriously.”
When you’re a member of the Anchorage Igloos, life is a bit different than it is for the other 11 SHL clubs. Most often, that difference manifests itself in extremely long road trips and brutal winter temperatures. But occasionally, players have to deal with some of the quirkier aspects of the league’s northernmost outpost. RW Jean Pierre Fleury found that out the hard way this week, when his new car was severely damaged by… a rogue walrus.
Fleury appeared in a couple games for the Igloos last year, but this season he became a full-time member of the roster. He chose to celebrate making the big time (as well as his new contract) by purchasing a brand new Chrysler 300.
“For the first time in my life, I have a new car,” said Fleury. “Before now, I always had old cars, rusting and crappy. Now I can afford something nice.”
After showing off his new ride to teammates before Tuesday’s morning skate, Fleury parked it out in the farthest reaches of the players’ parking lot, which is located at the edge of the Gulf of Alaska. He parked it away from the other cars to avoid door dings, as well as any pranks his teammates might want to pull.
“I thought maybe they would put shaving cream on the windows or something,” said Fleury.
When Fleury returned to his car after the practice session, he was shocked and distressed to find that the passenger side of his car was badly dented. The damage was so severe that Fleury was unable to open the doors on that side.
“This was much worse than shaving cream,” Fleury noted. “If this was a prank, it was a terrible one.”
His Igloos teammates quickly assured him that this was no prank. But access to the players’ lot is controlled, and security guards did not report seeing any unusual cars enter or leave. So what had happened? Had some juvenile delinquents attacked the car?
Fortunately, the team posts security cameras around the lot, and they were able to find footage that showed what happened. And when they reviewed the footage, they were stunned by what they saw.
At some point during the practice session, a male walrus climbed out of the water and onto the land near Fleury’s car. It is currently the height of the walrus mating season, and the normally gentle creatures tend to be a bit more aggressive during this time.
It appeared that the walrus must have seen his reflection in the shiny paint of Fleury’s car, and mistaken it for another walrus, perhaps a romantic rival. The animal backed up, then charged and headbutted the car several times, before wandering back off into the water.
Naturally, once word got around the clubhouse, the Igloos were all too excited to see the tape for themselves. One of the team’s video editors created a continuous loop of the attack, which C Jake Frost then played in the clubhouse before Thursday’s game against Dakota.
“It was really fantastic,” said Frost. “We just kept watching the walrus trashing J.P.’s car and laughing ourselves silly. Meanwhile, J.P. was sitting over in his locker with his head in his hands. He couldn’t bear to look.”
Fortunately for Fleury, his insurance was able to cover the damage. And the team announced that it will build a fence along the shoreline to prevent incidents like this from happening again.
Until the fence can be constructed, however, Frost had another suggestion. “Naturally, after this heinous attack on my teammate’s car, I decided to become an expert on everything there is to know about walruses,” said Frost. “And by that, I mean that I read the Wikipedia entry on them. And I learned that polar bears are one of the few natural predators that walruses have. So that’s the answer: we need to send [Igloos mascot] Petey out there to defend our cars!”
Frost’s linemate Jerry Koons supported the idea. “There are few things in life more terrifying than an 8-foot-tall polar bear with earmuffs and a hockey jersey. If we have Petey sit out there and keep an eye on things, we won’t have any walrus problems any more. No one wants to mess with Petey.”
This year, the SHL’s minor league will also be holding an All-Star Game. The game will take place at Waterfront Center, home of the Virginia Rhinos. The rosters for the game, along with each player’s current stats, are below.
Coach: Jeffrey “Swampy” Marsh (Virginia)
LW: Norris “Beaver” Young, Oshawa (15 G, 27 A, 42 Pts, 10 PIM, +19)
D: Gary Hermine, Oshawa (11 G, 28 A, 39 Pts, 16 PIM, +20)
C: Pat “Stoner” Collistone, Oshawa (17 G, 26 A, 43 Pts, 8 PIM, +19)
D: Rennie Cox, Virginia (15 G, 20 A, 35 Pts, 4 PIM, +7)
RW: Anders Pedersen, Oshawa (12 G, 25 A, 37 Pts, 23 PIM, +19)
LW: Yuri Laronov, Virginia (17 G, 19 A, 36 Pts, 16 PIM, -2)
D: Blake Blacklett, Virginia (14 G, 19 A, 33 Pts, 26 PIM, +7)
C: Cyril Perignon, Virginia (17 G, 24 A, 41 Pts, 0 PIM, +2)
D: Ambroz Melicar, Baltimore (12 G, 21 A, 33 Pts, 8 PIM, +3)
RW: Chris Quake, Virginia (6 G, 24 A, 30 Pts, 20 PIM, -2)
LW: Rex Batten, Baltimore (11 G, 21 A, 32 Pts, 31 PIM, Even)
D: Kirby Hanlon, Maine (6 G, 12 A, 18 Pts, 20 PIM, +1)
C: Phoenix Cage, Cleveland (7 G, 17 A, 24 Pts, 6 PIM, -9)
D: Hampus Olsson, Maine (6 G, 8 A, 14 Pts, 6 PIM, +1)
RW: Felix Delorme, Hartford (11 G, 12 A, 23 Pts, 6 PIM, -12)
Jonathan Crane, Maine (10-8-3, 2.06 GAA, .917 save %)
Hector Orinoco, Oshawa (15-6-0, 2.75 GAA, .896 save %)
Coach: Wiley Kiyotie (Utah)
LW: Diego Garcia, Utah (8 G, 23 A, 31 Pts, 10 PIM, -1)
D: Steve Cargill, Milwaukee (7 G, 23 A, 30 Pts, 48 PIM, +8)
C: Dale Wilcox, Colorado Springs (12 G, 19 A, 31 Pts, 29 PIM, +13)
D: Georg Ochre, Muncie (5 G, 21 A, 26 Pts, 49 PIM, +12)
RW: Philippe Durien, Colorado Springs (24 G, 22 A, 46 Pts, 22 PIM, +13)
LW: Veikko Sikanen, Omaha (15 G, 15 A, 30 Pts, 23 PIM, +5)
D: Brian Coldivar, Minnesota (12 G, 14 A, 26 Pts, 18 PIM, +6)
C: Tanner Everest, Minnesota (7 G, 24 A, 31 Pts, 18 PIM, +7)
D: Rudolf Kerasov, Minnesota (8 G, 17 A, 25 Pts, 22 PIM, +6)
RW: James Clay, Milwaukee (8 G, 22 A, 30 Pts, 16 PIM, +3)
LW: Jean Pierre Fleury, Minnesota (14 G, 11 A, 25 Pts, 14 PIM, +8)
D: Trevor Lockwood, Omaha (7G, 17 A, 24 Pts, 53 PIM, -1)
C: Vance Ketterman, Milwaukee (11 G, 15 A, 26 Pts, 12 PIM, +3)
D: Duncan DeShantz, Colorado Springs (4 G, 18 A, 22 Pts, 45 PIM, +17)
RW: Mark Winters, Minnesota (7 G, 20 A, 27 Pts, 24 PIM, +7)
Sonny Kashiuk, Colorado Springs (20-3-1, 1.57 GAA, .943 save %)
Kelvin White, Muncie (12-10-0, 1.85 GAA, .937 save %)