SHL Offseason Trade Summary

The following trades took place in the offseason before Season 2:

Seattle SmallHamilton SmallThe 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.

Quebec SmallNew York smallThe 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.

Quebec SmallSaskatchewan SmallThe 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.

Quebec SmallHamilton SmallIn 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.

Hershey SmallAnchorage SmallThe 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.

Dakota SmallHamilton SmallIn 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.

2015 SHL Finals – Game 5

Washington SmallAnchorage SmallWASHINGTON GALAXY 3, ANCHORAGE IGLOOS 1

With one more game at home in the SHL Finals, the Washington Galaxy were eager to capture a victory and move to the brink of capturing the Vandy. They got what they wanted, snagging a 3-1 win and leaving the heavily favored Anchorage Igloos needing to claim back-to-back wins in order to avoid a stunning upset loss in the Finals.

“This is not the position we wanted to be in,” said Igloos C Jake Frost.  “We established ourselves as the best team all season long, and for us to lose the Finals… that would be a real blow.”

Just as they did in game 4, the Galaxy struck first.  When C Eddie Costello scored on a three-on-one a little more than four minutes into the game, the crowd at Constellation Center practically raised the roof with delight.  “The place was really rocking,” said Washington RW Jefferson McNeely.  “The fans were believing right from the start, and we were believing too.”

Igloos C Broni Zhlotkin dampened the crowd’s enthusiasm with less than two minutes left in the period, redirecting a blue-line shot by RW Remi Montrechere and beating Galaxy goaltender Roger Orion stick-side to even the score at 1.

“For us, getting it back even before the break was key,” said Montrechere.  “We didn’t want them getting too confident.  The momentum was shifting away from us, and we needed to snatch it back.”

In a repeat of Game 2, the 1-1 tie persisted through a scoreless second period, as both teams took turns making furious rushes to no effect.  In the first half of the period, the Igloos dominated the action, stepping up the pace of action with their patented fast breaks and trying to overwhelm the depleted Washington skaters.  Orion did a valiant job turning them aside, although on two separate occasions Anchorage rang shots off the post.

In the latter half of the period, Washington took its turn in the driver’s seat, scarcely letting the Igloos get the puck out of their own end and bombarding Worthington with shots.  But the Anchorage netminder held firm, keeping the Galaxy from breaking the tie.  The home fans remained excited, but their cheers took on a nervous edge.

“When [the Igloos] were trying to race past us and we were able to stop them, that got everybody fired up,” said Galaxy LW Casey Thurman.  “But then we threw everything we had at them and we couldn’t get it done either.  And we all felt like this was a must-win game for us.  It was getting intense.”

The Galaxy got a much-needed break 2:47 into the third period.  Although the referees had been calling a fairly loose game to that point, head linesman Scott Pritchard whistled Anchorage D Hans Mortensen for a controversial interference call, sending the Igloos bench into hysterics.  Igloos coach Sam Castor remained miffed about the penalty even after the game.

“We got burned by inconsistent officiating,” said the Anchorage coach.  “If they’d been calling it tight all game, fine.  But they’d already made it clear they were going to let the teams play, at least up until that point.  There were easily a half-dozen things [the Galaxy] did that were worse than what Hans did, with no call.  All I ask for is consistency.  If something’s not a penalty in the first, it shouldn’t be in the third.”

Castor and the Igloos only became more furious when Galaxy LW Todd Douglas beat Worthington top-shelf 32 seconds into the power play to put Washington ahead. “That one really burns,” said Castor.  “It was a knife in the gut at the worst possible time.”

Less than three minutes later, an Anchorage defensive breakdown sprung Douglas on a breakaway; he fed C Drustan Zarkovich, who slid the puck under Worthington’s right pad for a 3-1 lead.

“You’ve really got to look in the mirror if Drustan beats you on a breakaway,” Galaxy coach Rodney Reagle quipped after the game.  “He’s a great guy and a good player, but he’s not exactly a racehorse out there.”

After securing the two-goal edge, the Galaxy spent the rest of the game in a defensive mode.  With Orion (30 saves) continuing to provide stout netminding, Washington preserved their win and took a 3-2 lead in the series.

“All we’ve got to do now is win one in Anchorage, and we’ve already done that,” said Thurman.  “We’re ready for this.”

The Igloos headed home fueled by anger at the late call against Mortensen.  “A lot of guys in here feel like the refs won this one, not the other team,” said Frost.  “We’re not looking for the refs to decide this series.  We want to take care of business ourselves.”

Continue reading “2015 SHL Finals – Game 5”

Mascot Wars Continue

Michigan Grey WolvesAnchorage IgloosThe next salvo in the mascot-based war between the Anchorage Igloos and the Michigan Gray Wolves has been fired.  Two weeks ago, Gray Wolves LW Vladimir Beruschko created an uproar in Anchorage when he attacked Igloos mascot Petey the Polar Bear with his hockey stick.  This week, during a game at Cadillac Place, the Igloos struck back against Michigan mascot Wally Wolf.

During a break in action during the second period, Wally came onto the ice to toss some T-shirts into the crowd.  He unknowingly wandered a little too close to the Igloos bench, and C Jake Frost stuck out his stick and tripped the mascot, sending him down to the ice in a heap.  “With his big giant head, he just sort of toppled over,” said one witness to the incident.  Frost then pointed and said, “That’s for Petey, you bastard!”

Wally Wolf
Wally Wolf

While boos rained down from the crowd and Frost and his teammates whooped it up on the bench, the Gray Wolves fumed.  “Blindsiding a guy like that on the ice isn’t right,” said D Frank Mudrick.  “He could have blown out his ACL and ended his career on a move like that.”

Gray Wolves coach Martin Delorme walked to the end of his bench and began pointing and shouting at the Igloos.  Anchorage coach Sam Castor responded in kind, and the crowd roared as the two coaches waved their arms and argued.  “Honestly, I’m not really sure what [Delorme] was saying,” said Castor.  “He might have been yelling in French.  Don’t know.  I was pointing out that his guy started it, and to give it a rest.”

During the first faceoff after play resumed, Mudrick skated up to Frost and demanded a fight.  Frost skated away, and Igloos D Olaf Martinsson squared off with Mudrick instead.  “I’m a lover, not a fighter,” said Frost.

In the third, Wally re-emerged with a large bandage wrapped around his head, as the fans gave him a standing ovation.  Wally walked behind the Anchorage bench, withdrew a pair of water balloons he’d hidden under his shirt, and dropped them on the Igloos, soaking Frost and RW Remi Montrechere.  The mascot ran off before the stunned Igloos could react.

“Good thing he didn’t hit me with those balloons,” said Castor.  “I’d have chased him down and beat the hell out of him.  This suit cost more than his whole wardrobe.”

The SHL fined Frost $500 and Wally $250, issuing a press release that stated, “Okay, you guys have had your fun.  Now knock it off or we’re going to start handing out suspensions.”  But neither side showed any indication of ceasing hostilities.

“This isn’t over,” said Gray Wolves C Hunter Bailes.  “That polar bear better have a suit of armor ready for the next time we play them.”  Replied Igloos D Moose Baker, “Petey’s going to be ready, and we’re going to be ready.  If any of those guys so much as lays a hand on Petey’s fur, there’s going to be a line brawl on the spot.  Mark my words.”

Frost had another suggestion: “I think the only way this can end is for Petey and Wally to settle this on the field of honor.  [The Gray Wolves] can pick the time and place, and I’ll spring for Petey’s airfare.”

West Thumps East in Interdivision Play

The Eastern clubs completed their first swing through the West this week.  And the results were an unqualified disaster for the East: they combined to go 3-12-1 over the four-game stretch.  Even lowly Saskatchewan went 2-2 over that stretch.

Does that indicate that the league’s Western teams are superior?  Michigan Gray Wolves coach Martin Delorme thinks so.  “In our division, we are used to playing a harder, more physical hockey,” said Delorme.  “I don’t think they play quite as hard over there, so it is a shock.”

Anchorage Igloos RW Remi Montrechere agreed with Delorme’s assessment.  “To succeed in this division, it’s all about winning the board battles, taking chances, getting greasy goals,” said Montrechere.  “A lot of the Eastern teams seem to rely more on flow and set plays, and we’re good at disrupting that flow.”

Naturally, the Easterners weren’t rushing to agree with this assessment.  Hamilton Pistols coach Ron Wright pointed out the small sample size.  “Anything can happen over the span of four games,” Wright said.  “When they came through our arenas a couple weeks ago, we did a lot better.  Get back to me at the end of the year and we’ll see who’s better.”

New York Night C Brock Manning also pointed out that travel plays a role.  “All the teams out here are pretty compact,” said Manning.  “Traveling in the division is no big deal.  But go out West, and you’re going from Michigan to South Dakota to Sasktchewan to Alaska.  It’s just brutal.”

The one team that had a modicum of success out West was the Washington Galaxy, who went .500 on the swing despite being without injured C J.C. Marais.  “I think they could succeed in the West,” said Delorme.  “They’re a good team and they play heavy.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them play for the championship.  Anybody else, it would be a walkover.”