2020 SHL Week 11 Transactions

  • On Monday, the Dakota Jackalopes activated C Tanner Brooks from the injured list.  Shortly before the All-Star break, Brooks suffered an upper-body injury.  Although the injury initially did not seem that serious, Brooks wound up missing over three weeks.  As the Jackalopes had an available roster spot, they did not need to make a compensating move to activate Brooks.
  • Also on Monday, the Hershey Bliss‘ CHL affiliate in Milwaukee placed LW Karl Gjovik on the injured list.  Gjovik exited in the first period of Sunday’s 3-1 win over Cleveland after being upended on a devastating check, and did not return.  He is expected to miss at least two weeks.  To replace Gjovik, Milwaukee signed F Jerry Cazenovia to a short-term contract.
  • On Wednesday, the Hamilton Pistols activated C Marco Venezio from the injured list.  The veteran center missed 10 games with a lower=body injury suffered just before the All-Star break.  In order to make room for Venezio, the Pistols reassigned C Hilliard Macy to their CHL affiliate in Oshawa, and released F Bobby Warner from Oshawa.
  • Wednesday was the trading deadline. The following trades were consummated at the deadline:
    • The Michigan Gray Wolves traded RW Gordon Lunsford to the Boston Badgers for RW Rory Socarra. (More details here.) After the trade, Boston demoted RW Felix Delorme to their CHL affiliate in Hartford, and recalled F Jacques Bacon from Hartford.
    • The Gray Wolves traded LW Misha Petronov, F Cary Estabrook, and D Brandon Arrowood to the New York Night for LW Flynn Danner, F Henry Constantine, and D Anson Brank.  (More details here.) After the trade, Michigan demoted LW Fendrick Scanlan to their CHL affiliate in Cleveland, and New York promoted RW Harris Wondolowski from their affiliate in Utah.
    • The Dakota Jackalopes traded D Victor Addison to Boston in exchange for D Jackson Creed.  After the trade, the Badgers demoted D Bjorn Tollefson to their minor-league affiliate in Hartford.
    • Michigan traded C Warren Marlow to the Quebec Tigres in exchange for C Phil Miller, LW Carl Bleyer, and a 1st-round draft pick. (More details here.) After the trade, the Gray Wolves released F Caleb Moulton.  The Tigres demoted C Dwight Flynn to their CHL affiliate in Halifax, and signed F Tim Daisey to a minor-league deal.
  • On Saturday, the Anchorage Igloos recalled RW Jean Pierre Fleury from their CHL affiliate in Minnesota. The Igloos demoted Fleury to Minnesota during the All-Star break, and he played brilliantly there, recording 19 points in 12 games, including the CHL’s first-ever five-goal game.  To make room for Fleury, the Igloos reassigned RW Lionel LaNeige to Minnesota.

Badgers Bulk Up With Lunsford, Addison

The Boston Badgers are in a challenging position.  They’re on the fringes of the playoff race in the crowded East.  It was a seller’s market at this year’s deadline, and the Badgers had some pieces – like winger Jorma Seppa and defenseman Patrick Banks – that could have fetched a solid return.  On the other hand, Boston already made one aggressive go-for-it move this season – acquiring LW Casey Thurman from Washington – and they’d clearly need more help if they were going to make the postseason.

GM Jody Melchiorre considered both paths nearly up to the deadline.  He entertained deals for Seppa, Banks, and others.  But in the end, he decided to double down and go for it.

“At some point, if you’ve got enough chips in the pot, it doesn’t make sense to fold,” said Melchiorre.  “Our fans want to see a playoff team, and I want to give it to them.”

The Badgers needed an upgrade to their lackluster offense; adding Thurman was a much-needed boost, but their goal numbers are still in the league’s lower half.  But they also needed to find players who fit the team’s rugged, grinding, hard-hitting style.  In the end, Melchiorre found what he was looking for, landing RW Gordon Lunsford from the Michigan Gray Wolves and D Victor Addison from the Dakota Jackalopes.

Lunsford has been a quietly consistent cog in Michigan’s offense for years.  He’s regularly put up 50-point seasons with little flair or drama.  He’s capable of laying the kinds of heavy checks that Badgers fans love.  And he’s been a steady, dependable clubhouse leader for the Wolves since the beginning.  Although his numbers this year (8 goals, 20 assists, +10 rating) aren’t quite up to his career norms, he continues to be a solid performer.

“Gordon is exactly the kind of strong veteran presence I want here,” said Melchiorre.  “He’ll fit in perfectly on the ice and off the ice.  He’s got playoff experience, and he can help lead our team to great things.”

The Badgers didn’t give up a ton to get him, either: they acquired Lunsford in a one-for-one swap for RW Rory Socarra.  The 21-year-old Socarra has shown dazzling flashes of athleticism, but has yet to fully harness his potential.  He has yet to exceed 20 points in a season, and his current-season numbers (4 goals, 6 assists, -3) have once again disappointed.

All in all, it seems like a steal for Boston.  There is, however, one risk factor: Lunsford’s age.  He is currently 37 years old, the league’s oldest active player.  He has shown clear signs of decline the last couple of seasons.  And he’s signed through the 2021 season at a sizable hit of $2.5 million per season.  Might that come back to bite Boston down the road?

For his part, Lunsford isn’t concerned.  “I don’t think I’m near the end of the road,” he told reporters.  “I’m in great shape, and I’ve been healthy as a horse my entire career.  I’m ready to keep going and producing until I’m 40, or longer.”

In Addison, whom they acquired for minor-league blueliner Jackson Creed, the Badgers are hoping to find a defenseman who can provide some help in the offensive end as well.  The Badgers have two blueliners with a solid scoring touch: Banks and Matt Cherner.  They’ve also gotten help from Brody “Bruiser” McCallan, who has a good passing touch.  The rest of their defensive corps, however, has contributed virtually nothing offensively.  So Melchiorre picked up Addison, hoping that he can slot in on the second pairing beside McCallan and provide a bit of a spark.

The 24-year-old Addison has put up solid numbers in the minor-leagues, but has struggled to replicate those at the SHL level.  In 19 games with Dakota this season, he recorded no goals and 7 assists with a -5 rating.  But Melchiorre believes that Addiston can unlock the offensive side of his game with more consistent ice time.

“Victor’s been jerked around a lot in his career,” said Melchiorre.  “He’s been moved up and down pairing, on the ice one day and not the next.  No wonder he can’t find consistency.  What we plan to do is give him a consistent role beside the same partner and consistent minutes, and not panic and bench him if he doesn’t light it up immediately.  I’m confident that with some time and trust, he can thrive.”

That’s music to Addison’s ears.  “All I’ve ever wanted is the chance to prove myself,” he told reporters.  “In my last organization, I felt like I never got that chance.  I’m glad to have a fresh start, away from the chaos.”

Will Lunsford and Addison prove to be the difference-makers that launch Boston into a playoff spot?  Or will they prove to be too little, too late in a packed race?  Melchiorre and the Badgers look forward to finding out.

Hogaboom Teaches Tips of the Fighting Trade to Young Teammates

Washington Galaxy D Bruce Hogaboom is reaching the closing stages of his career.  Once one of the SHL’s most feared fighters and dogged defensemen, the __-year-old is relegated to reserve duty this season, appearing in only occasional games.  This is the last year of Hogaboom’s contract, and he has strongly hinted that he plans to retire at season’s end.

Bruce Hogaboom

That said, the man they call “Boom Boom” isn’t just sitting idle in the pressbox, watching the days pass by.  He is active in team practices, serving as a mentor to the team’s young crop of blueliners.  Specifically, Hogaboom is training his colleagues in the fine art of hockey fighting.

“Soembody’s going to have to answer the bell when I’m gone,” said Hogaboom after a recent practice.  “These guys need to know how to scrap, how to tie your opponent up, how to make your punches count, when to bring a guy down and when to keep going.  That part of the game’s not going away, and I want to make sure our guys are ready.”

One of Hogaboom’s top proteges is Grant Warriner, a promising young two-way defenseman who has a healthy appetite for throwing hands.  “I’ve really liked the way he’s grown as a fighter,” said Hogaboom.  “He’s not as aggressive as I am, he doesn’t go looking for fights.  But when a guy wants to go with him, he’s up to the battle.  He’s got fists like cinder blocks, and he knows how to put a hurt on a guy.”

Warriner showed off his fistic skills on Sunday in a game against the Boston Badgers.  During the second period of the game, Warriner put a hard but legal hit on RW Rory Socarra.  This angered D Brody “Bruiser” McCallan, who decided to avenge his teammate by challenge Warriner to a fight.  The fight was spectacular, which both players trading heavy blows, but Warriner finally dropped McCallan to the deck with a pair of hard rights.

After the game, Hogaboom looked like a proud parent as he talked excitedly to reporters about the donnybrook.  “Did you see the way the Bruiser went down like a sack of flour?” said the veteran defenseman.  “That’s the way I dropped guys in my prime.  Boom boom, down!  Thing of beauty.  He really laid the Pledge of Allegiance on him.”

That last remark puzzled the assembled reporters, who asked for an explanation.  “I call it the Pledge of Allegiance, because we’re in DC.  Because he came with liberty and justice for all.

“You know, Liberty and Justice,” the defenseman added, raising his two fists in succession.  (It should be noted that Hogaboom named his own fists Randy and Matilda as a teenager.)

So does he consider Warriner his spiritual successor?  “Well, first off, that’s not fair to War, ‘cause he’s way better on offense than I ever was,” Hogaboom said.

Just as importantly, he’s hoping that each of Washington’s blueliners will carry on the “Boom Boom” spirit.  “A team should have more than one enforcer,” Hogaboom noted.  “If there’s only one guy the other team needs to watch out for, that’s one thing.  But when there are a half-dozen guys who can dole out the punishment, then teams know they’ve gotta watch out.  They know better than to take a run at your stars, because they know they’ll pay the price if they do.”

The veteran stressed that he’s not trying to train a team of future goons.  “You’ve got to play a complete defensive game, suppress shots, disrupt the other team’s flow, all that,” he said.  “But we’ve got coaches to help them with that.  No team has a fighting coach.  Well, except for me, I guess.”

Badgers’ Thanksgiving Dinner Ends in Free-for-All Food Fight

Like the SHL’s other 11 teams, the Boston Badgers opened training camp this week.  Thursday was Thanksgiving Day in America, and many of the players were spending the day apart from their families.  In order to ease the sting for them, the Badgers held a team-wide dinner for the players and staff at Shawmut Arena.

“We thought it was a nice way to show our appreciation for how hard they work, and to get ready for the season ahead,” said GM Jody Melchiorre.

Little did Melchiorre know that the dinner would ultimately degenerate into a food fight, as the players blew off steam by flinging Thanksgiving staples at one another.

The team began the morning with a scrimmage, their first time on the ice at Shawmut since the end of last season.  The scrimmage was intended to be no-contact, but the players ignored those instructions, gleefully throwing checks and body-slamming each other to the ice.  Ds Jurgen Braun and Brody McCallan even traded punches briefly.

“The practices the last couple of days have been pretty rough, so I think there was some pent-up energy there,” said McCallan.

After the players showered and dressed, they gathered in the arena’s club level for a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast prepared by the team’s catering staff.  The spread included turkey, ham, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and much more.

At first, the players and staff tucked into their plates with vigor.  But then the players began chirping at each other about the scrimmage, and voices eventually grew louder.  (It should be noted that beer was one of the beverage options.)  Eventually, the disagreements turned physical.

According to sources, RW Rory Socarra was the first one to send the food flying, flinging a spoonful of mashed potatoes in the face of RW Jorma Seppa.  Socarra denied that he started things, claiming that Seppa had chucked a roll at him.  Regardless, it served as the starting gun for what one player described as “a scene straight out of Animal House,” as food and liquid quickly filled the air.

By the time the dust and gravy had settled, the players and the suite were caked in food.  Team sources say that it took two days so completely clean the walls and tables of food.

The story probably would have remained inside the locker room, were it not for the fact that several players videotaped the melee and posted it on social media.

“Obviously, this isn’t what I had in mind when we decided to do this,” said Melchiorre.  “But I probably shouldn’t have been surprised.  This is a fun-loving and pugnacious bunch, which is usually a good thing.  But I’d prefer if we directed that aggression at our opponents instead.”

New coach Kyle Barrow, meanwhile, enjoyed himself thoroughly.  “Best Thanksgiving ever!” he quipped.  “That first week back at practice is always tough for guys, and this was a good way to let those feelings out.  Nobody got hurt and everybody had fun, so that’s a win in my book.”

Barrow had only one regret about the incident.  “I got hit with cranberry sauce on my new blazer, and I don’t think that’s going to come out,” he said.  “Next time we have a team dinner, I’m bringing a poncho.”

For his part, LW Lix Darnholm didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.  “I’m from Sweden, and we don’t have Thanksgiving,” Darnholm explained.  “I thought maybe this is how you celebrate in America.  Everyone get together to throw food at your family.”