CHL Update: Harpoons’ Offense Evaporates During Skid

A few short weeks ago, the Hartford Harpoons appeared to be on track to win the CHL’s Eastern Division with ease.  They’d been out front of the division since the beginning, with a quality, balanced offense from their top two lines combined with reliable goaltending from Jonas Schemko.  Over the last seven games, however, the East race has been shaken up significantly, as the Harpoons have come back to the pack thanks to a winless skid highlighted by a vanishing offense.

Hartford’s woes began the week before the All-Star break.  The week began in fine fashion on Sunday, as the Harpoons drubbed the then-second-place Virginia Rhinos 8-2.  Since then, though, Hartford hasn’t scored more than two goals in a game, and they’ve averaged just one goal per game during their 0-6-1 slide.

“I don’t know why it hasn’t been clicking for us lately,” said C Liam Engstrom.  “But it’s been really frustrating, that’s for sure.”

The Harpoons’ most frequent tormentor during their slump: the Oshawa Drive.  During their seven-game winless run, Hartford has played Oshawa four times and gone 0-3-1.  The most agonizing of those games was on Saturday, when Harpoons RW Jacques Bacon scored a power-play goal with 22 seconds left in regulation to tie it up, only to give up an overtime goal to Drive LW Troy Blackwood to fall 3-2.  Unsurprisingly, while Hartford has swooned, Oshawa has surged, going 5-1-1 to close an 11-point gap in the standings to a single point.

“Honestly, they’ve looked a little spooked out there,” said Blackwood.  “They’re trying to force passes and take gambles, the kind of things you do when you’re in a slump and you can’t find your way out.”

The Drive aren’t the only team that has soared in the standings lately.  The Baltimore Blue Claws have won seven games in a row, zooming up from fifth place to tie Hartford for first.  One of those wins came against the Harpoons just before the break.  Baltimore scored twice in the third period to notch a come-from-behind 3-2 win.

Harpoons coach Herman Chambers said that he’s not worried about the team’s recent struggles.  “It’s not like we forgot how to play hockey overnight,” Chambers said.  “We’ve just hit a bit of a dry spell; plenty of time left to straighten it out.  We just have to refocus and play the way we know how.”

Chambers noted that two of the Harpoons’ leading scorers, RW Felix Delorme and D Brett Stolte, were called up to the parent Boston Badgers during the break, and that has played a role in the team’s dry spell.

“There’s no question that we’ve been pressing a little bit,” said Chambers.  “But it’s not really a big thing.  Once we have a game ot two where the puck bounces our way, we’ll be right back on track.”

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 %)

 

2019 SHL Week 4 Transactions

  • On Tuesday, the New York Night placed LW Lee Fleming on the disabled list.  Fleming went down awkwardly in the third period of the Night’s 3-2 win over Boston after taking a puck off of his right leg.  He was later diagnosed with a lower-body injury and is expected to miss 3 to 4 weeks.  To fill Fleming’s roster spot, New York promoted RW Mickey Simpson from their minor-league affiliate in Utah.  Simpson was having a strong campaign with the Owls, putting up 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) in 14 games.
  • On Wednesday, the Washington Galaxy and Kansas City Smoke swapped minor leaguers.  The Galaxy sent RW Brendan Bailey and a 3rd-round pick to the Smoke in exchange for F Jimmy Horton.  The 23-year-old Bailey recorded a goal and a +1 rating in 11 games for Washington’s minor-league club in Baltimore.  The 21-year-old Horton notched 2 assists and a +4 rating in 4 games with KC’s affiliate in Omaha.  The primary purpose of the trade was to open up salary cap space for the Galaxy, who needed to sign an additional defenseman due to injuries in Baltimore.  After making this deal, they inked free agent Zbynek Otradovec to a temporary 10-game contract.
  • On Saturday, the Boston Badgers demoted F Liam Engstrom to their CHL affiliate in Hartford and promoted C Hollis Shivers to the majors.  According to the Badgers front office, the move was made to give the 19-year-old Engstrom more ice time in order to foster his development.  Engstrom had appeared in only 3 games for Boston this season, and had not recorded a point.  The 22-year-old Shivers recorded 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists) in 16 games with Hartford.
  • Also on Saturday, Kansas City shuffled their blueline corps yet again, demoting Scott Hexton to their farm club in Omaha and calling up Lowell Sharkey to the SHL.  The 28-year-old Hexton signed with KC as a free agent this offseason.  The front office hoped that he could provide some veteran stability to their young defensive group, but things didn’t work out as planned.  In 9 games, Hexton put up a -9 rating and failed to record a point.  The 19-year-old Sharkey was a 4th-round draft pick in 2018, and has impressed in Omaha.  After putting up 36 points in his rookie season, Sharkey has already registered 17 points (2 goals, 15 assists) so far this year.