CHL Update: Moose Sold, Headed to Halifax

In each of the three seasons that the Continental Hockey League has been around, they’ve never fielded the same lineup of teams twice.  Between its first and second seasons, the CHL expanded to Hartford and Milwaukee, while the Albuquerque Screaming Eagles moved to Colorado Springs.  Between last season and this season, the Muncie Squirrels decamped for Idaho.

The CHL’s streak of relocating teams will remain intact next season, as the owner of the Maine Moose announced this week that he is selling his franchise to a group that plans to move the team to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Moose have generally drawn well during their tenure in the CHL, but their future was thrown into doubt when majority owner Clark Fennister suffered a heart attack and passed away in January at the age of 66.  Fennister’s widow had no interest in operating the team, and his sons lacked the capital to purchase it.  The Fennister family tried to find a local buyer, but came up empty.

The Moose’s parent club, the Quebec Tigres, were interested in having an affiliate in Canada.  They put the Fennister family in touch with Halifax businessman Guy Sullivan, who quickly agreed to purchase the team.

“For all the fans here in Maine who have supported the team these last few seasons, we’re sorry,” said Andrew Fennister, Clark’s oldest son.  “I know Dad would have loved us to find a way to keep the team here, but it just didn’t work out.”

Sullivan, meanwhile, expressed enthusiasm at bringing a team to Halifax.  He plans to call the team the Atlantics, a nod to the Eastern provinces of Canada, collectively known as “Atlantic Canada.”  “This team is going to put the Atlantic provinces on the map,” Sullivan told reporters.  “The Maritimes are the area that everyone overlooks, but they won’t be able to do that anymore!”

The Atlantics will be the second Canadian franchise in the CHL, joining the Oshawa Drive.  Sullivan did his best to spark a rivalry with the Drive during the press conference.

“I know everyone in the [Greater Toronto Area] thinks we’re a bunch of hicks who don’t do anything but drink, fiddle, and catch lobsters, but we’ll show them,” Sullivan said.  “I hope that when they come out here to check on their summer cottages, they’ll see Atlantics jerseys, hats, and T-shirts everywhere.  Get ready to catch the Hali-fever!”

Moose RW Luc LePettier, a native of neighboring province New Brunswick, was excited about the move.  “This is great news for the Maritimes,” said LePettier.  “I never thought we would get to see it happen, but now it is!”

2019 SHL Week 5 Transactions

  • On Monday, the Quebec Tigres returned RW Luc LePettier to their minor-league affiliate in Maine.  The Tigres called up LePettier two weeks ago, at a time when LW Stellan Fisker was injured and Quebec needed forward depth.  Fisker returned shortly after, and LePettier appeared in only one game with Quebec, failing to record a point.  After suffering a couple injuries of their own, Maine is now in need of some forward help; additionally, Quebec wanted to avoid stunting LePettier’s development due to a lack of playing time.  The Tigres are currently one shy of the roster limit due to D Richard McKinley‘s injury; for now, they will leave the slot unfilled.
  • On Wednesday, the Dakota Jackalopes traded G Dennis Wampler and D Terry “T-Rex” Hendricks to the Kansas City Smoke in exchange for G Brooks Copeland and D Geoff Moultrie.  Read more about the trade here.  In order to make room for Wampler and Hendricks on their roster, the Smoke demoted G Bill Bates and D Lowell Sharkey to their CHL farm club in Omaha.  The 20-year-old Bates went 1-1-0 with a 3.50 GAA and an .872 save percentage with Kansas City.  The 19-year-old Sharkey, who was called up last week, appeared in only 2 games without recording a point.
  • On Friday, the Jackalopes reinstated LW “Flyin’ Ryan” Airston from the injured list.  Airston missed nearly three weeks with an upper-body injury.  Airston’s return can’t come soon enough for the struggling Jackalopes; they have lost every game they played without him, and averaged a pitiful 1.8 goals per game in his absence.  To make room for Airston on the roster, Dakota reassigned LW Van Dyke Browning to their affiliate in Idaho.  Browning appeared in 3 games with the Jackalopes, recording an assist and a -1 rating.
  • On Saturday, the Michigan Gray Wolves placed C Hunter Bailes on the 10-game DL.  Bailes suffered a lower-body injury blocking a shot in the third period of the Wolves’ 1-1 tie against Quebec.  It’s the second injury of the year for the fragile center, who missed 3 games last week with an upper-body ailment.  To replace Bailes on the roster, Michigan called up C Phoenix Cage from their farm team in Cleveland.  Cage has 2 goals and 11 assists in the CHL this season.

2019 SHL Week 3 Transactions

  • On Monday, the Dakota Jackalopes placed star LW “Flyin’ Ryan” Airston on the 10-game DL.  Airston was knocked out with an upper-body injury on Sunday against Saskatchewan.  Airston’s injury was a major blow to Dakota’s feeble offense, as he is one of their leading scorers.  To take his place, the Jackalopes promoted LW Van Dyke Browning from their minor-league affiliate in Idaho.  Browning, 20, was off to a strong start in Idaho (2 goals and 4 assists in 9 games); he made his SHL debut on Thursday against Kansas City
  • On Friday, the Boston Badgers placed D Patrick Banks on the 10-game DL.  Banks suffered an upper-body injury during Thursday’s game against Quebec.  It’s the second injury-marred season in a row for Banks, who missed most of 2018’s second half after suffering a broken leg and torn ACL.  To fill Banks’ roster spot, Boston called up D Kermit Kaufman from their minor-league affiliate in Hartford.  The 21-year-old Kaufman, who appeared in 21 games for the Badgers last season, recorded 3 assists in 11 games with Hartford.
  • Also on Friday, the Quebec Tigres placed D Richard McKinley on the DL.  McKinley left Thursday’s contest against Boston with an upper-body injury; he is expected to be out of action for up to 4 weeks.  McKinley was one of Quebec’s top blueliners, posting 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) and a +7 rating.  The Tigres promoted RW Luc LePettier from their CHL affiliate in Maine to fill the open roster slot.  LePettier had recorded 4 goals and 5 assists on the season with the Moose.
  • On the good-news front for Quebec, they activated LW Stellan Fisker on Saturday.  Fisker went on the DL with a lower-body injury during the season’s opening week.  Fisker was an essential piece of last year’s Eastern Division-winning Tigres squad, as he scored 23 goals and anchored the second line.
  • On Saturday, the Kansas City Smoke demoted G Brooks Copeland to their affiliate in Omaha, and called up G Bill Bates from Omaha.  The Smoke’s 4.30 GAA and .875 save percentage are worst in the league, both by significant margins.  Copeland is off to a dismal start between the pipes, going 0-5-0 with a 5.00 GAA and an .843 save percentage.  He lost the starting netminder job this to rookie Jim Fleetwood.  With Omaha this season, Bates recorded a 4-2-1 record with a 2.51 GAA and a .907 save percentage.