The SHL selected New York Night G Sherman Carter as its Player of the Week. The Night went undefeated in four games on the road this week, and Carter’s exemplary goaltending was a key factor in the Night’s unexpected success. For the week, Carter went 3-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA and a .966 save percentage. None of those wins came easily; in each game, he faced over 35 shots.
On Sunday, Carter put up a 36-save shutout in a 3-0 win over Kansas City. It was only the fourth time this year that the high-scoring Smoke had been kept off the scoreboard. On Tuesday, he stopped an amazing 42 shots in a 3-1 victory over Portland. On Thursday, Carter came up with 37 saves as the Night held off Michigan for a 4-3 triumph.
“Being a goaltender for this team is certainly not easy,” said Night coach Flim Dahlgren. “With the pace we play, you know you will face a great deal of shots every night. You must be on your toes at all times to handle the onslaught. Coming up as a netminder in this organization is a baptism by fire, and Sherman has lived that and acquitted himself quite nicely.”
The Anchorage Igloos have a message for the rest of the Western Division: They’re still the reigning division champs, and the core of the team that’s made five trips to the SHL Finals and claimed two Vandys is still intact. They don’t intend to relinquish their crown without a fight, and they demonstrated their fight this week with a couple big statement wins on the road.
Like their divisional colleagues, the Igloos just finished a swing through the East that took them up to the All-Star break. On Sunday, they rolled into Gunpowder Armory for a faceoff with the Hamilton Pistols, the team that’s beaten the Igloos in the last two Finals. Anchorage proceeded to flatten the Pistols 7-1. After the game, the Igloos’ locker room was buoyant, as the team celebrated a signature victory. Little did they realize it wouldn’t even be their biggest win of the week.
Following the poleaxing of the Pistols, the Igloos flew south to the Big Apple to take on the New York Night. A couple New York players brashly predicted victory in Tuesday’s contest. “Anchorage is full of old dudes,” said Night RW Rick “The Stick” Nelson. “This game is after their bedtime, so we’ll tuck them in and tell them night-night after we crush them.”
As it turned out, the Igloos made Nelson eat his words in dramatic fashion, as they scored six times in the first period and rolled to an 11-2 rout. It’s the first double-digit score in the SHL this season.
“All the statheads out there have been worried about our negative goal differential,” said Anchorage coach Sam Castor. “Guess that’s not a problem anymore, huh?”
The Igloos got off to a flying start, as LW Jerry Koons went top shelf to put the visitors ahead just 43 seconds into the game. The Night drew a power play two and a half minutes later, but Anchorage killed it off easily, holding New York to a single shot. About a minute after the power play ended, Igloos D Laszlo Cierny picked off a sloppy pass from Nelson and flicked a headman pass to RW Nicklas Ericsson, who streaked up the ice. Ericsson faked a slapshot before dropping the puck back to Cierny, who buried it for a 2-0 Anchorage lead.
After a couple minutes of back and forth action, Nelson found himself with a wide-open net. By the time he wound up and fired his shot, though, Koons was able to slide over and smother it. Koons then popped up, corralled the puck, and fed it to Ericsson. This time, the Swedish winger went coast-to-coast and finished it himself, putting the Igloos up by three.
Less than a minute after Ericsson’s tally, Night D Rocky Winkle was penalized for interference after he got a bit overaggressive in a scrum in front of the Anchorage. On the ensuing power play, LW Les Collins jammed one home from the slot to make it a 4-0 game.
The Igloos weren’t done pouring it on. With 6:13 remaining in the period, C Jake Frost deflected a shot from Cierny just inside the left post for yet another tally. Less than a minute later, Frost started a 3-on-2 rush that became a 3-on-1 when Nelson fell down at center ice. After a few tac-tac-toe passes, Ericsson sniped it home to push the lead to 6-0.
Nelson managed to salvage a shred of dignity for himself and his team late in the period, as he scored to break the shutout. However, when Nelson proceeded to celebrate by dropping his stick and thumping his chest as though he’d just scored the game-winner, his teammates refused his high-five attempt.
“We’re down 6-1, man,” said C Brock Manning after the game. “Maybe pull back on the celly a bit.”
After the first period, New York made a change in net, replacing starter Sherman Carter with backup “Jersey Mike” Ross. The switch made no apparent difference to the Igloos, who continued to score virtually at will. They beat Ross twice in the second period and three times in the third before the horn mercifully sounded.
In their postgame interviews, several Anchorage players made reference to Nelson’s pre-game boasts. “I’ve got to hand it to Ricky,” said Frost. “It can be hard for old dudes like us to get up for every game on a long road trip like this. But after he ran his mouth, it gave us all the motivation we needed. Thanks, Rick!”
“Normally, we’d be all worn out after scoring six in one period, especially since it’s past our bedtime and all,” added Koons. “But sticking it to Rick the Stick is a powerful incentive, so somehow we were able to keep pouring it on.”
Nelson finished the game with a mind-boggling -6 plus/minus rating. He left the arena without speaking to reporters.
“A coach needs a lot of tools to get through a season,” said Night coach Flim Dahlgren. “Apparently, I need to add some duct tape to my toolkit, so I can put it over Rick’s mouth the next time Anchorage comes to town.”
The following transactions occurred during the All-Star break:
The Anchorage Igloos demoted RW Jean Pierre Fleury and G Wendall Cantillon to their CHL affiliate in Minnesota and called up RW Lionel LaNeige and G Curt Freeze from Minnesota. Fleury has struggled badly this year, recording only 2 points in 20 games, and has been a healthy scratch in many recent games. Cantillon has posted a 2-4-2 record with a 4.04 GAA as the Igloos’ backup netminder this season. The 22-year-old LaNeige makes his SHL debut; he has recorded 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) in 32 games with Minnesota this year. Freeze, a longtime Anchorage prospect, has gone 5-11-2 with a 2.59 GAA and a .905 save percentage so far this seaosn.
The Boston Badgers sent F Jacques Bacon and D Jackson Creed to their affiliate in Hartford, and recalled RW Felix Delorme and D Brett Stolte from Hartford. Bacon, a veteran who signed as a free agent in the offseason, has appeared in only 7 games for Boston and has yet to record a point. The Badgers are hoping that Delorme, nephew of Quebec coach Martin Delorme, can provide a spark for their stagnant offense. Delorme was a starter in the CHL All-Star Game, and has recorded 10 goals and 17 assists so far this season. The Badgers called up Creed from Hartford two and a half weeks ago; he played in 6 games and recorded an assist. Stolte, another CHL All-Star, has produced 12 goals and 13 assists so far this year.
The Dakota Jackalopes demoted D Geoff Moultrie and promoted D Brady Prussian. Moultrie recorded 2 goals and a -2 rating in 14 games for Dakota this season; the team hopes to get him more regular playing time with their affiliate in Idaho. Prussian has produced 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) and a +13 rating with Idaho on the year.
The Hamilton Pistols demoted D Torrey Ashmont and promoted D Russ Klemmer. Ashmont is a rookie who has struggled for ice time with the Pistols, appearing in only 9 games. He figures to start regularly with the team’s Oshawa affiliate. Klemmer, meanwhile, was a CHL All-Star; his 22 assists placed him in the league’s top ten.
The Hershey Bliss demoted F Anton Lapointe and promoted RW James Clay. Lapointe, a capable defensive forward, has struggled to produce offensively at the SHL level; so far this year, he has produced two assists in 9 games. Clay, another CHL All-Star, led Hershey’s Milwaukee affiliate with 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists).
The Kansas City Smoke demoted G Dennis Wampler and promoted G Eric Middleton. Kansas City’s 3.79 GAA is second-worst in the SHL, and Wampler (3-8-1, 4.06 GAA, .882 save percentage) has contributed to those woes. Middleton, an 18-year-old rookie, has thrived with the Smoke’s affiliate in Omaha, going 8-6-3 with a 2.06 GAA and a .929 save percentage.
The Michigan Gray Wolves demoted RW Kelvin Starkey and F Cary Estabrook and promoted LW Fendrick Scanlan and RW Steve Brandon. The offensively-challenged Wolves shook up their forward depth, swapping out Starkey (1 goal in 24 games) and Estabrook (no points in 10 games) for the top two scorers (and All-Stars) with their Cleveland affiliate, Scanlan (13 goals, 10 assists) and Brandon (12 games, 10 assists).
The New York Night demoted G Corey Franklin-Lee and recalled G Sherman Carter. This is the reverse of the transaction New York made two weeks earlier, when they sent Carter to their affiliate in Utah in order to regain his form and confidence. Carter went 4-2-1 with a 1.98 GAA and a .926 save percentage in Utah, while Franklin-Lee went 1-2-0 with a 3.00 GAA and a .925 save percentage in the Big Apple.
The Quebec Tigres demoted C Phil Miller and promoted C Dwight Flynn. The veteran Miller has failed to produce in Quebec this season, with a mere two assists and a -10 rating in 27 games. Flynn, meanwhile, has produced at an All-Star level with Halifax this year, including 16 goals, 21 assists, and a +3 rating.
The Saskatchewan Shockers signed D Kjell Hanson to a minor-league contract. The Shockers found themselves with a short minor-league roster after calling up D Pierre Chappelle and C Trent Harlow as injury replacements just before the All-Star break, and Hanson will help fill the void. The 24-year-Hanson started the year in the Kansas City organization, but the Smoke released him the week before the break.
The Washington Galaxy demoted D Shane Gladchuk and promoted D Morris Starling. The rebuilding Galaxy wanted to give Starling, a CHL All-Star with Baltimore, some ice time at the SHL level. He led the with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists). Gladchuk appeared in 12 games with Washington, notching 3 assists and a -8 rating.
On Sunday, the New York Night announced that D Ed Francis, who had been playing for their minor-league affiliate in Utah, will miss the rest of the season. The 30-year-old Francis suffered a severely broken leg during last Saturday’s game against Minnesota, an injury so severe that it required surgery to reconstruct the leg. In the wake of the injury, Francis announced that he would retire from hockey. (Story here.) To replace Francis on the roster, the Night signed D Gustaf Bergstrom for the rest of the season. Bergstrom recently played a 10-game stint in Halifax, where he recorded a goal and six assists.
On Friday, the Washington Galaxy traded LW Casey Thurman to the Boston Badgers in exchange for LW Marty “Fish” Pescatelli, D Kermit Kaufman, and a first-round draft pick. (Story here.) In related moves, Boston demoted LW Norris Young to their CHL affiliate in Hartford and promoted D Jackson Creed from Hartford. They also signed D Gerry Michaud to a minor-league deal.
On Friday, the Night demoted G Sherman Carter to their CHL affiliate in Utah and promoted G Corey Franklin-Lee from Utah. Carter, expected to be New York’s top starter in the next, has been atrocious so far this season. Despite compiling a 5-5-1 record, he has put up a 5.75 GAA and an .861 save percentage. The 20-year-old Franklin-Lee makes his first appearance on an SHL roster; with Utah this season, he has gone 9-4-2 with a 2.82 GAA and a .905 save percentage.
On Saturday, the Quebec Tigres placed D Kevin Buchanan on the injured list. The veteran blueliner has been plagued by injuries this season; he missed 10 games with an upper-body injury earlier this season. It is unknown whether this latest setback, suffered in the second period of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Hershey, is an aggravation of his prior injury or a new one. To replace Buchanan on the roster, Quebec recalled D Hampus Olsson from their CHL affiliate in Halifax. Olsson was sent down two weeks ago when Buchanan returned from his prior IL stint; he spent 9 games in the minors, recording 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists). To fill Olsson’s roster spot in Halifax, the Tigres signed veteran D Igor Shovshenkov.