- On the Saturday of the All-Star Break, the Boston Badgers traded LW Cary Estabrook to the Hamilton Pistols for F Norris “Beaver” Young. Read more about the trade here.
- Prior to the beginning of play this week, the Dakota Jackalopes demoted D Victor Addison to their CHL affiliate in Idaho and called up D Rodney Black from Idaho to replace him. Addison was a lightly-used reserve in Dakota this season; he appeared in only 7 games, recording no points and a -4 rating. Recently, he had been passed on the depth chart by Geoff Moultrie. Black, meanwhile, was one of the CHL’s top blueliners, putting up 29 points (19 goals, 10 assists) in the first half and earning a berth in the All-Star Game.
- Also prior to the start of play, the Kansas City Smoke demoted C Edz Zalmanis and RW Andrew “Lucky” Fortuno to their CHL affiliate in Omaha, while calling up C Owen Griffin and RW Adriaen van der Veen from Omaha. Kansas City’s offense was lackluster in the first half; they averaged only 24.3 shots per game, second-worst in the league, and they are dead last in plus-minus at -30. The 23-year-old Zalmanis, who signed a 5-year, $3.5 million free agent contract in the offseason, put up only 4 assists and a -9 rating in 23 games. Fortuno did a bit better, with 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) and a -6 plus-minus in 24 games. The 21-year-old van der Veen was a CHL All-Star and one of leading scorers, with 39 points (16 goals, 23 assists). Griffin, 22, was leading the CHL in plus-minus at +24; he notched 30 points (5 goals, 25 assists) in the first half.
- On Wednesday, the Jackalopes placed Black on the 10-game disabled list. Black got off to a strong start with Dakota after being called up, with a goal and an assist in 2 games, but he exited in the third period of Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to Kansas City with an upper-body injury that’s expected to keep him out for 2 to 3 weeks. Since the Jackalopes had 8 defensemen on their roster already, they chose not to call anyone up at this time.
- On Friday, the Badgers activated G Roger Orion from the disabled list, after he’d missed three and a half weeks with a lower-body injury. With Orion activated, Boston returned Jonas Schemko to their minor-league affiliate in Hartford. Schemko looked good in his brief stint with the Badgers, going 1-1-1 with a 2.27 GAA and a .924 save percentage.
- On Saturday, the Washington Galaxy placed LW Charlie Brooks on the disabled list. Brooks suffered a lower-body injury in Saturday’s 6-0 rout of Boston. To replace Brooks on the roster, the Galaxy promoted LW Alan Youngman from their farm team in Baltimore. Youngman is one of the CHL’s top scorers, notching 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) so far on the season.
When the Boston Badgers made LW Cary Estabrook their first-ever player signing, it seemed like a movie script come to life. Estabrook was a native of Rhode Island and played college hockey at the University of Massachusetts. In college, he caught the eye of Jody Melchiorre, then a scout for the Anchorage Igloos. Estabrook suffered a major knee injury as a senior and the Igloos passed on him. But Melchiorre never forgot what he saw, and when he signed on as GM of the expansion Badgers, his first move was to sign Estabrook to a contract. The young winger dreamed of starring in the same area where he’d grown up.
Reality, though, doesn’t always unfold like a movie. Estabrook’s tenure in Boston was a miserable experience for both him and the team. He struggled with his conditioning and off-ice habits, clashed with coach Cam Prince, and failed to produce. Finally, after a season and a half, the Badgers finally pulled the plug, trading the 24-year-old to the Hamilton Pistols in exchange for F Norris “Beaver” Young.
“This one stings for me, because I think Cary’s a special young man,” said Melchiorre. “But clearly, things haven’t worked out the way either of us would have wanted. I think a fresh start is the best thing.”
During his rookie season in 2018, Estabrook found that the lingering after-effects of his college injury robbed him of crucial speed, and his performance wasn’t up to par. He reportedly took to drinking and partying excessively, which further impacted his game.
This caused Estabrook to run afoul of Prince, a battle that came to a head when Estabrook overslept and missed a team meeting. Shortly thereafter, the Badgers demoted Estabrook to their minor-league affiliate in Hartford. He’d played 28 games with the Badgers, failing to record a point and putting up a -23 rating.
Prince and the Badgers gave Estabrook another shot this year; he broke camp as the third-line left winger. But his on-ice and off-ice struggles continued, as he rotated in and out of the lineup. In 21 games this season, Estabrook had a goal to go with a -12 rating, worst on the team.
“I’m really disappointed with the way everything turned out here,” Estabrook told reporters. “I feel like I let everyone down. I know I have no one but myself to blame. But I have to pick myself up and move on to the next thing,”
The 24-year-old Young was drafted by the Pistols in 2016. He spent two seasons on their bottom line, totaling 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists). After spending the 2018 season with their farm club in Oshawa, he returned to the big club this season. He split time on the third line with RW Michael Jennings. In 16 games this season, Young had 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) and a +2 rating.
“Younger was a solid contributor for us, and we will miss him,” said Pistols GM Marcel LaClaire. “But we are excited about Cary. We think there’s a lot of untapped potential there, and we think he can be a real asset in the right situation. We believe that our organization and our coaching staff will help him thrive.”
For Hamilton, which has lagged in the playoff chase in spite of strong underlying numbers, Estabrook represents a low-stakes gamble that could pay dividends down the stretch. For Estabrook, Hamilton represents a chance to start over. He may not have lived his dream of starring with the local team, but he’s still young and has a chance at a solid SHL career… if he can avoid repeating the mistakes that doomed him in Boston.
“If I screw this up, I know I might not get another chance,” said Estabrook. “So I’m going to make sure I don’t screw this up.”
The first round of the CHL playoffs mirrored the first round of the SHL playoffs in a number of ways. One series ended in a sweep, with the victor headed to the finals for the second straight season, trying to avenge last year’s shocking loss. The other series went the distance, with both teams holding serve on home ice; the winner is making their first-ever trip to the championship round.
In the East, the Virginia Rhinos felt as though they should have won the title last season, even though they were upended by Utah in 5 games in last season’s final. “I think we all had the belief that the better team lost last time,” said C Cyril Perignon. “We are on a mission of revenge.”
The Rhinos played with purpose and passion in the division playoff, dispatching the Oshawa Drive in three straight. Despite the fact that Virginia thrived on scoring this season, they relied on stout defense to succeed in this playoff; they shut out the Drive in each of the first two games. They won Game 1 by a 4-0 margin, with C Tanner Brooks getting a short-handed goal to open the scoring and LW Yuri Laronov recording a power-play tally to end it. The Rhinos eked out a 1-0 victory in Game 2, with RW “Real” Hank Diehl scoring the lone goal on a deflection early in the second period. Goalie Gus Parrish was at the top of his game, turning aside 22 shots in the first game and 19 shots in the second. In Game 3, with the series moving north of the border, Virginia opened up a 3-0 lead before D Ingolf Gudmundsen finally recorded the Drive’s first goal of the series late in the second period. Oshawa LW Norris “Beaver” Young struck on the power play two minutes into the third period to close the gap to one, but they couldn’t muster the tying tally as the Rhinos completed the clean sweep.
“Everyone in this locker room is focused on one thing: winning the Howard Trophy,” said Rhinos coach Jeffrey “Swampy” Marsh. “If we have to go over, under, around, or through our opponents to make it happen, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re like Andy Dufresne in ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ climbing through that sewer pipe on our way to freedom.”
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Freeze had a bumpier road than the Rhinos did, as the Colorado Springs Zoomies pushed the series to the limit. But like their parent club, the Anchorage Igloos, the Freeze survived and will advance to the Finals.
Game 1 was a back-and-forth affair, with the Freeze and Zoomies trading goals, and it ultimately went into overtime. D Julian Staples ultimately nailed the game-winner six minutes into the extra session to give Minnesota a 4-3 win. Game 2 was another close contest; Zoomies RW Joel Hagendosh got a short-handed goal midway through the third, and the game wound up in overtime once again. One extra period wasn’t enough this time, but C Mason Alpine ended it a minute into the second OT with a slapper from the point that lifted Minnesota to a 3-2 victory. Back home for Game 3, Colorado Springs kicked their offense into high-gear, rallying from a two-goal deficit to snatch a 6-4 win that staved off elimination. In Game 4, the Zoomies made the most of the man advantage, scoring all three of their goals on the power play. Even though the Freeze outshot them 39-23, Colorado Springs goalie Sonny Kashiuk stood on his head, making 38 saves in a 3-1 win. In the winner-take-all Game 5, Minnesota again dominated on offense, outshooting the Zoomies 35-17. But even though the Freeze scored four goals in a wide-open second period, the Zoomies hung tough, ultimately coming up short by a 5-4 score.
The Igloos sent their minor-league club a congratulatory video, with Anchorage players calling on their minor-league counterparts to help the organization capture both championship. “We’re going to prove that we’re the best team right now,” said Igloos C Jake Frost. “We’re hoping you guys can go out and prove that we’re going to win the future too.”
Although Minnesota finished the regular season 11 points ahead of Virginia, most observers expect a closely-fought battle in the Finals. The Rhinos will be looking to win the title they felt they were robbed of last year, while the Freeze will be looking to make their parent club proud. The series begins Sunday at Northwoods Auditorium in Duluth.
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 %)
The following trades took place in the offseason before Season 2:
The expansion Seattle Sailors made a splash and landed some veteran talent to guide them in their inaugural campaign. The Sailors acquired C Cliff Derringer, RW “King George” Lane, and D Hylton Windham from the Hamilton Pistols in exchange for first-round and third-round picks and F Elmo Jacobson. In Derringer, the Sailors land a solid scorer (21 goals and 35 points last season) who is expected to anchor their top line. Lane, meanwhile, is a capable passer (23 assists in 2015) who may be placed on the top line to feed Derringer and top draft pick Vince Mango. Windham appeared in limited action for Hamilton last season, scoring 4 points in 22 games, but is best known for being the first native of the Bahamas to play professional hockey. The Pistols are rebuilding under new coach Keith Shields, and the picks (which were used to draft D Clayton “Crusher” Risch and LW Norris “Beaver” Young) will help position the team for the future. The 24-year-old Jacobson spent last season with Saskatchewan, for whom he scored 9 points.
The other expansion team, the Quebec Tigres, made several moves after the expansion draft. First, they dealt RW Kenny Patterson and D Teddy Morrison to the New York Night in exchange for LW Pascal Royal. The Tigres have made a point of acquiring as many Quebec natives as possible, and Royal certainly qualifies. He will also provide the Tigres with a dose of badly-needed offense, having put up 15 goals and 40 points in New York. Patterson is being reunited with his former club, as Quebec plucked him from New York in the expansion draft. The winger scored 13 goals and 37 points for the Night last year. Morrison was a gritty defender who spent last season with Washington, putting up 12 points in 56 games.
The Tigres also strengthened their blue line by acquiring Viktor Babykin, a rugged stay-home defenseman, from the Saskatchewan Shockers, along with F Alois Rodney in exchange for rookie D Brody “Bruiser” McCallan. Babykin is known as one of the SHL’s meanest players, a man who never hesitates to drop the gloves and was one of the league leaders in penalty minutes last year. His pugnacious personality also created some friction in the Shockers locker room, however. The 21-year-old McCallan, the Tigres’ third-round draft pick, spent last season in the Quebec junior league, where he put up 12 points. Rodney, who was the last player selected in the draft, put up 6 points in limited action in the Swiss league last season.
In their final deal, the Tigres picked up another left winger, Stellan Fisker, from the Hamilton Pistols. Fisker put up 17 goals and 30 points for Hamilton last season. The Pistols sent Fisker and the just-acquired Jacobson to Quebec in exchange for a pair of rookies, LW Magnus Gunnarson and the aforementioned Rodney, and a second-round pick in next year’s draft. Gunnarson, who was selected in the second round by Quebec, scored 15 goals last season for Lake Erie State.
The Hershey Bliss and the Anchorage Igloos struck a major deal on draft night, with the Bliss sending G Riley Lattimore to the Igloos in exchange for RW Sven Danielsen. Lattimore began last season as Hershey’s starting goalie, but struggled and wound up losing playing time to backup Milo Stafford. Lattimore finished the season with a 12-18-1 record with a 3.70 GAA, as the Bliss stumbled to a disappointing third-place finish in the East. He became expendable after Hershey picked netminder Buzz Carson in the second round of the draft. Lattimore will serve as a backup in Anchorage, who lost their former second-string goalie, Ron Mason, to Seattle in the expansion draft. Danielsen, meanwhile, spent last season on the second line for the champion Igloos, netting 11 goals and 28 points. He lost his spot on the Anchorage depth chart to Remi Montrechere, as the Igloos found themselves with forward depth to spare.
In a minor swap of defenders, the Dakota Rapids shipped Jose Martinez and rookie Fyodor Agrozonov to the Hamilton Pistols for Pierre Chappelle. Chapelle was a solid two-way defenseman for the Pistols last season, putting up 10 points. Martinez was an offensive-minded defender who struggled somewhat in Dakota, posting 7 points in 52 games. Agrozonov is a 22-year-old who played the last two seasons in the KHL.