CHL Update: Rhinos Freeze Minnesota for First Title

The Virginia Rhinos came into this year’s CHL season with some unfinished business.  The Saskatchewan Shockers affiliate had a strong season in 2017 and felt that they should have won the Howard Trophy, the league’s championship.  But in the Finals, they ran into the Utah Owls and red-hot goalie Sherman Carter, and suffered an upset loss in five games.

“We all felt really unhappy about the way last year ended,” said D Rennie Cox.  “It’s like eating a great meal and then having your dessert taken away.  We were all hungry for revenge.”

Once the Rhinos made it to the postseason, they were not to be denied.  They barreled through the Eastern playoff, dismissing the Oshawa Drive in a three-game sweep.  Then in the Finals, it took Virginia only five games to knock off the Minnesota Freeze and claim their long-awaited trophy.

“I was impressed with how focused our team was,” said Rhinos coach Jeffrey “Swampy” Marsh.  “Everyone in here was willing to work hard and do whatever it took to get this done.”

Virginia’s path to the championship started with an epic battle at Northwoods Auditorium.  The Rhinos got off to an early two-goal lead, but the Freeze rallied with a pair in the third to force overtime; the game-tying blast from D Brian Coldivar came with just 1:20 left in regulation.  The game wound up lasting until the third overtime, making it the longest contest in league history.  Finally, 37 seconds into the sixth period, RW Chris Quake pounced on a loose puck in front of the crease and putting it past Minnesota goalie Curt Freeze for a 3-2 win.  “Honestly, we were all kind of too tired to celebrate,” said Quake.

The Rhinos were able to shake off their exhaustion in time for Game 2.  They got off to a fast start, scoring three goals in the first six and a half minutes, and cruised to a 4-2 win,  Goalie Gus Parrish made 35 stops to back up his team’s offensive effort.  “Winning the first two games on enemy ice, that was huge,” said Marsh.  “It really put us in the catbird seat for the series.”

With the action shifting back to Tidewater for Game 3, Virginia outshot Minnesota 41-28.  Although Freeze made a valiant effort to keep his team in it, the Rhinos tied it up on a Cox slapper with 9:44 remaining, then got the game-winner from LW Jayden Gunn in overtime for a 4-3 triumph.  Minnesota squeaked out a 1-0 win in Game 4 to avert the sweep, on the strength of LW Henry Van Alpin‘s power-play goal in the third period.  In addition to losing the game, the Rhinos lost C Cyril Perignon, one of their top scorers, to a lower-body injury.  But the Rhinos shook off the loss of their top center and finished things off in Game 5 with a big third period, striking three times with the man advantage to pull out a 5-3 win despite being outshot 32-19.

The post-game celebration was led by Cox, who was named Finals MVP after putting up 5 goals and 5 assists in the series.  “This was a real showcase for Rennie,” said Marsh.  “Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll be playing for me next year, but that’s life in the minors.  Onward and upward!”

Now that the Rhinos have their title, many of the players (like Cox) are looking forward to joining the Shockers and helping them to a championship.  “We’ve got great chemistry here and we’ve accomplished a lot,” said C Cyril Perignon.  “The next step is for us to get up to the SHL and go from there.  We think we’ve got the nucleus of a potential Saskatchewan dynasty right here.”

Continue reading “CHL Update: Rhinos Freeze Minnesota for First Title”

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CHL Update: East Prevails In First All-Star Game

The SHL’s  minor league, the Continental Hockey League, held its first All-Star Game this week at Waterfront Center, home of the Virginia Rhinos.  The sell-out crowd in attendance was treated to a win for the home team, as the East built a big lead, then survived a late rally from the West to pull out a 6-4 victory.

“Nothing better than getting a big W in front of my home crowd!” said Rhinos coach Jeffrey Marsh, who was in charge of the Eastern squad.  “It almost makes up for losing in the Finals last year.  Almost.”

In addition to enjoying a fun and thrilling game, each fan in attendance received a special gift from the home team: a “superhero plush rhino” with Virginia’s logo on it (pictured).  The giveaway proved to be a big hit; examples were selling on eBay for as much as $50 after the games.  Marsh conducted his postgame press conference with one of the stuffed rhinos in his pocket.  “Adorable little fellow, isn’t he?” said the coach.  “Honestly, the only reason I agreed to coach this game was because they promised to give me one of these guys.”  Marsh then proceeded to make the rhino soar in circles over his head.

Much like Marsh’s rhino, the game got off to a flying start.  It took only 20 seconds for Rhinos D Rennie Cox to get the East on the board, banging a shot off the crossbar behind Colorado Springs Zoomies goalie Sonny Kashiuk.  19 seconds later, Zoomies C Dale Wilcox put one in from a severe angle to tie the game.

After the early scores, the teams settled in for a while.  But 5:41 into the game, Oshawa Drive RW Anders Pedersen tapped one in past Kashiukv to put the East back in front for good.  Baltimore Blue Crabs LW Rex Batten scored with five minutes left in the period to make it a 3-1 game.

The game threatened to turn into a rout, as the East scored twice more in the second period.  By the time Pedersen scored again on a power-play tally 1:14 into the third, the score stood at 6-1.

But the West made a game of it later on.  Minnesota Freeze D Brian Coldivar got the rally started with a hard slapper three minutes into the period.  A couple minutes later, the West got another score on a crazy shot that deflected multiple times before sneaking past Drive goalie Hector OrinocoMilwaukee Hogs C Vance Ketterman was credited with the goal.  When Hogs RW James Clay cashed in on a power play with 7:37 left in the game, it drew the West within two and caused the crowd to stir uncomfortably.  But Orinoco shut things down the rest of the way, and the East held on for the victory.

Pedersen, with his pair of goals, was recognized as the game’s MVP.  In addition to the award, Pedersen received a Chris-Craft boat.  “I have never had my own boat before,” Pedersen said.  “Maybe now I will have to start fishing or something.  What do you do in a boat?”

 

AllStarGame, West All-Stars @ East All-Stars, Waterfront Center

                   1   2   3   OT   F
West All-Stars     1   0   3        4
East All-Stars     3   2   1        6

 
West All-Stars         G   A PTS PIM +/-   East All-Stars         G   A PTS PIM +/-

Garcia          LW     0   1   1   0   0   Young           LW     0   0   0   0   0
Cargill         D      0   1   1   0  -1   Hermine         D      0   2   2   0   1
Wilcox          C      1   0   1   0   0   Collistone      C      0   0   0   0   0
Ochre           D      0   1   1   2  -1   Cox             D      1   0   1   2   1
Durien          RW     0   0   0   0   0   Pedersen        RW     2   0   2   0   0
Sikanen         LW     0   0   0   0   1   Laronov         LW     0   0   0   0  -1
Kerasov         D      0   1   1   0   1   Blacklett       D      0   0   0   0  -1
Everest         C      0   0   0   0   1   Perignon        C      0   0   0   0  -1
Coldivar        D      1   0   1   0   1   Melicar         D      0   0   0   0  -1
Clay            RW     1   1   2   0   1   Quake           RW     0   0   0   0  -1
Fleury          LW     0   0   0   0  -3   Batten          LW     1   1   2   2   3
Lockwood        D      0   1   1   0  -2   Hanlon          D      1   2   3   0   2
Ketterman       C      1   1   2   0  -3   Cage            C      1   1   2   0   3
DeShantz        D      0   1   1   2  -2   Olsson          D      0   1   1   0   2
Winters         RW     0   0   0   0  -3   Delorme         RW     0   3   3   0   3
----------------------------------------   ----------------------------------------
TOTALS                 4   8  12   4  -2   TOTALS                 6  10  16   4   2

Scratches:
WAS:  
EAS:  

 
West All-Stars      SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Kashiuk             37    32    5  0.865
Ke. White           18    17    1  0.944

East All-Stars      SH    SV    G    Sv%
----------------------------------------
Crane               19    18    1  0.947
Orinoco             14    11    3  0.786

First Period
------------

GOALS:
00:20  EAS  Cox (Cage, Hermine)
00:39  WAS  Wilcox (DeShantz, Garcia)
05:41  EAS  Pedersen (Hanlon, Olsson)
15:09  EAS  Batten (Delorme)

PENALTIES:
06:27  WAS  Ochre 2:00 (Elbowing)

Second Period
-------------

GOALS:
07:47  EAS  Hanlon (Delorme, Batten)
08:06  EAS  Cage (Delorme, Hanlon)

PENALTIES:
15:07  EAS  Cox 2:00 (Elbowing)

Third Period
------------

GOALS:
01:14  EAS  Pedersen PP (Hermine)
03:02  WAS  Coldivar (Clay, Kerasov)
04:56  WAS  Ketterman (Ochre, Cargill)
12:23  WAS  Clay PP (Ketterman, Lockwood)

PENALTIES:
00:51  WAS  DeShantz 2:00 (Slashing)
12:12  EAS  Batten 2:00 (Clipping)


 
SHOTS
------
                   1   2   3   OT   F
West All-Stars    10   9  14       33
East All-Stars    19  18  18       55

 
POWER PLAYS
-----------

West All-Stars   1 for 2
East All-Stars   1 for 2

 
INJURIES
--------

None

2018 CHL All-Star Rosters

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.

EAST ALL-STARS

Coach: Jeffrey “Swampy” Marsh (Virginia)

 

First Line

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)

 

Second Line

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)

 

Third Line

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)

 

Goalies

Jonathan Crane, Maine (10-8-3, 2.06 GAA, .917 save %)

Hector Orinoco, Oshawa (15-6-0, 2.75 GAA, .896 save %)

 

WEST ALL-STARS

Coach: Wiley Kiyotie (Utah)

 

First Line

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)

 

Second Line

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)

 

Third Line

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 KettermanMilwaukee (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)

 

Goalies

Sonny Kashiuk, Colorado Springs (20-3-1, 1.57 GAA, .943 save %)

Kelvin White, Muncie (12-10-0, 1.85 GAA, .937 save %)

CHL Update: Virginia’s Rhinos Rolling

So far in the SHL’s minor league, the competitors have been pretty well matched.  Most of the teams are within a game or two of the .500 mark.  There are a couple of exceptions, however.  In particular, there’s one team that stands head and shoulders above the rest: the Virginia Rhinos.  The affiliate of the Saskatchewan Shockers is threatening to run away with the league.

The Rhinos’ record is an astounding 18-6-1.  They are 7 points ahead of the next-best team in the league; in the East, they’re 9 points up on the second-place Maine Moose.  “This must have been what it was like to race against Secretariat,” said Moose coach Barney Flintridge.  “Right now, all we can see are the taillights.”

Shawn Stickel

What’s been the secret to the Rhinos’ success?  It starts with a turnaround season in net.  Last year, Shawn Stickel was a newly-drafted goalie backing up Zeke Zagurski in Saskatchewan.  Stickel’s rookie season was a disaster, going 1-12-0 with a 5.29 GAA.  His most notable exploit was getting arrested after getting liquored up on a cross-country flight and joyriding a baggage cart.  “I was on my own for the first time,” Stickel admitted, “so I was acting young and dumb.”

At risk of throwing away his career, Stickel devoted the offseason to getting himself back on track.  He went to an alcohol treatment program and swore off drinking.  He also spent countless hours refining his craft, studying tape to identify the flaws in his game and working with coaches and ex-teammates to correct them.  The results have been evident: this season, Stickel has gone 14-4-1 with a 2.20 GAA and a .927 save percentage.

“Honestly, I’m glad I wound up in the minors,” said Stickel.  “When you’re a backup in the pros, especially as a young guy, it’s hard to stay sharp and improve.  And you wind up with a lot of time on your hands, which I filled with drinking and goofing around.  Here, knowing my team’s counting on me almost every day, it’s easy to keep that mental edge.  And it’s given me an opportunity to practice the things I worked on over the summer, and continue to get better.”

Stickel’s solid goaltending seals up the defensive end for the Rhinos.  On the offensive end, they benefit from a potent and varied offense.  Their top line features two of the CHL’s top scorers, LW Yuri Laronov (11 goals, 28 points) and RW Colton Jabril (12 goals, 29 points), flanking one of the best passers, C Tanner Brooks (24 assists).  Coach Jeffrey “Swampy” Marsh likes to activate his defensemen on the attack, and the results have been evident.  Blake Blacklett is the CHL’s premier offensive defenseman (12 goals, 26 points), and Virginia has a couple other strong two-way threats in Robby Rohrman (9 goals, 21 points) and Rennie Cox (8 goals, 19 points).

“I’m seeing a lot of guys here who are SHL-caliber already, to be honest,” said Marsh.  “I don’t know if there’s going to be room in Saskatchewan next year for all the guys who deserve to be there.”

To be sure, the season’s not yet at the halfway point, and the Rhinos could easily cool off between now and the end of the year.  But right now, it’s easy to look at the talent on the ice in Virginia every night and imagine them powering a future contender in Saskatchewan.  “All the guys we have are happy to be here,” said Marsh, “but I know none of them really wants to be here.  They want to be in the majors.  And it’s my job to help them get there.  I can’t wait to see how their careers unfold.”