We're just over a third of the way through the IceHL season. Here's how things stand.
Last week, they earned their first victory after attempting a new strategy. This week, the Cavalry shattered their previous season high point total as they crushed the Scorpions 83-45. Once again, Calgary relied on Bobby Robins and Brett Gallant for a combined 47 points — all from the PIM column. Eric Tangradi tacked on another 11 penalty minutes along with a goal and 2 assists for 21 points.
Salt Lake City was above average this week as forwards Brayden Schenn and Nazem Kadri teamed up for 28 points on 3 goals and 4 assists. Curtis McElhinney continued his unbelievable hot streak with another pair of wins this week. On Sunday, Scorpions GM Kyle Grossman tweeted, "Hard to win when [Calgary] puts up 36 PIM through Saturday." He added hashtags #Buzzkill and #GoonHockey.
Two IceHL WEST powerhouses squared off in Week 8 but saw only below-average points. The Aviators (5-2) defeated the Wave (5-2) by a 33-27 score. Despite the win, Seattle tallied no goals this week. Blue-liner Matt Donovan led the club in scoring with an assist and 6 PIMs for 9 points. Meanwhile, California got much-needed production from Oliver Ekman-Larsson after a quiet week. He was the only Wave player in double digits.
Momentum is building for the Sharpshooters who shot down the Hellcats 65-51. For the first time, Saskatoon saw four players in double-digit points. Jeff Taffe and Chris Bourque had 30 points together on 8 assists. And Niklas Svedberg, the new addition between the pipes, picked up 2 wins for 12 points. Houston leaned on penalty minutes this week and Alexandre Bolduc and Ryan Stanton combined for 27. Goalie David Leggio has now put together back-to-back 0-point weeks after a strong start to the year.
After being handed their first loss of the season, the Winterhawks rallied in Week 8 to edge the Huskies 36-33. Brett Connolly had 2 goals, 1 assist and 4 PIMs for 15 points for Winnipeg while Jonathan Audy-Marchessault was Alaska's star, grabbing a goal and 3 assists for 13 points.
The Pioneers demonstrated their strength with a 41-31 win over the Kodiaks. Cam Atkinson had 3 goals and 2 assists for 18 points to power Portland. Only Cade Fairchild failed to make his mark on the scoresheet. At the same time, the goaltending woes continue for Edmonton as Petr Mrazek also put up a goose egg. The Kodiaks have just a single goalie win in eight weeks.
Elsewhere, the Narwhals extended the Gators' losing streak to six games with a close 43-41 win. The Outlaws were one of a handful of teams to get points from their entire roster this week as they clobbered the Renegades 46-22. And the Beasts rode a 49-36 victory over the Lumberjacks back to .500 this week.
Now, the other league...
The big story of the IceHL EAST this week has got to be how the fast descent of one team happens to be coinciding with the slow rise of another. It was demonstrated rather poetically as the Motorheads defeated the Lagers 42-32 in Week 8. After an 0-4 start, Detroit started to turn things around with back-to-back wins. And they only lost last week by a tie-breaker. Chris Bourque and Jason DeSantis combined for 29 points this week as every skater had something to contribute.
It was a different story for Milwaukee. Three goose eggs graced their scoresheet this week as Drayson Bowman did all of the heavy lifting with 2 goals, 1 assist and 7 PIMs for 18 points. As the AHL's Charlotte Checkers have cooled, so have the reliant Lagers. Meanwhile, Mikael Granlund returned from his injury this week but has yet to make a mark.
The defending champion Nighthawks are pushing their way back to the top, dealing the top-ranked Barracudas their second loss of the year by a score of 48-36. Jordan Eberle and Brendan Smith each put up 11 points as goalie Niklas Svedberg led the way with 12 points on 2 wins. For Tampa Bay, almost every skater contributed a goal and an assist, but all were below 10 points while netminder Dustin Tokarski's struggles continue.
The Guardians continued to quietly climb the standings with a 40-23 win over the Blue Crabs. Martin St. Pierre chipped in with 13 points on a goal, an assist and 6 penalty minutes while backstop Curtis McElhinney nabbed a pair of wins for 12 points. Baltimore, meanwhile, was just surprisingly quiet this week. The team saw minimal points this week except for defenseman Slava Voynov, who was above his season average with 9 points.
The Armada edged the Mariners, 31-29, to pull in line with the Barracudas at 6-2 on the year. Nazem Kadri and Kevin Connauton combined for the lion's share of Quebec's points this week with 22. Meanwhile, Radko Gudas led Hartford with 11 points — all penalty minutes.
Two struggling teams finished the week just a point apart. Nino Niederreiter led the Steelcats to a 31-30 win over the Sentinels. Niederreiter had a goal and 3 assists toward 17 points while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was out of action all week. For Washington, Mike Sgarbossa and Jake Gardiner teamed up for 28 points.
Elsewhere, the Hitmen stung the Olympiques 34-26 on a 12-point effort from Tomas Tatar. The Archers beat the Arsenal 46-35 thanks to Cam Atkinson's heroics. And the struggling Mammoths lost another one in spite of impressive points from Roman Horak as the Colonials claimed victory, 52-40, led by hot forwards.
This week may not have had the big shockers of Week 7, but it was certainly interesting to watch it all unfold this week. Here's to more excitement in Week 9!
Depending on the team, Week 7 proved to be either lucky or seriously unlucky. It's one shock after another as you look down the box scores for the latest series of IceHL match-ups. Let's dive in.
As much as it pains me, this is the biggest story in the IceHL EAST. The Barracudas' perfect record was wiped out by a single point as the Olympiques won 40-39 in Week 7. Tampa Bay suffered its first setback of the season despite a decent week from most of the roster. Tyler Johnson and Trevor Smith teamed up for 24 points while Mark Mancari failed to figure in offensively. Ultimately, the Barracudas fell just shy of prolonging their undefeated run.
Montreal was powered by Peter Holland, who scored half of the team's points this week on a goal, 4 assists and 4 penalty minutes. Taylor Hall also picked up a goal for the Olympiques who improve to a winning record for the first time this season. The team takes a three-game winning streak into Week 8.
The Guardians made a huge leap in the standings, going from 9th to 5th place, with a stunning 87-30 victory over the Hitmen. All but one player was in double digits this week and every skater made key offensive contributions. Martin St. Pierre led the way with 25 points on 4 goals and 9 PIMs. Also impressive between the pipes was Curtis McElhinney with 2 wins and a shutout. Defenseman Mark Barberio was the high scorer for Chicago with 13 points.
A tie-breaker was needed to give the Sentinels a 38-37 win over the Motorheads. Both teams saw their defense outscore their forwards but the key in this match-up was goaltending. Jeff Zatkoff grabbed 2 wins for Washington while Eddie Pasquale did the same for Detroit — only with a shutout as well. Ultimately, however, the Sentinels had more goals (2-0), and so the 37-37 tie was broken.
The Blue Crabs are inching back up the standings after defeating the Mammoths 47-22. Newcomer Richard Panik scored 3 goals toward 14 points this week as blue-liner Mike Kostka picked up 15 for Baltimore. Minnesota's struggles continued as no player earned more than 7 points despite multiple roster changes.
The defending champion Nighthawks were stunned by the Colonials 63-43. Alexandre Bolduc and Mark Borowiecki powered Boston with a combined 42 points. For North Carolina, Kyle Palmieri tallied 2 goals and 12 penalty minutes for 20 points but the blue line was silent this week.
Elsewhere, the Armada blew away the Arsenal 50-23. The Steelcats won 38-15 against the Lagers, who have been struggling after a strong start to the season. And the Mariners beat the Archers 38-35, meaning the three teams at the top of the standings last week all suffered losses this week in a big reversal of fortune.
This season is definitely keeping the GMs on their toes. Let's take a look at the West.
The IceHL WEST match-up that everyone was watching featured two teams that have been atop the league standings all season. And a week after being handed their first loss of the year, the Outlaws turned the tables on the unbeaten Winterhawks with a 57-36 victory. Dallas relied on contributions from every member of the team this week but it was goalie Braden Holtby who led the club with 12 points on 2 wins. Keith Aucoin and David Rundblad each had 11 points for the Outlaws.
For Winnipeg, underperforming players led the team to suffer its first defeat. Marcus Foligno had 2 assists and 7 PIMs for 13 points and Justin Schultz earned another 10. Otherwise, the Winterhawks were pretty quiet this week. The result of this game now means that neither conference has an undefeated team.
After weeks of struggles, the gritty Cavalry fought their way to their first win of the season, 48-39, much to the chagrin of the Kodiaks. Calgary is trying a new team philosophy which relies on players known for spending time in the box. New additions Brett Gallant and Bobby Robins lived up to those expectations in Week 7 teaming up for 26 points — all penalty minutes. Mark Barberio led Edmonton with 13 points while Nino Niederreiter had a goal, an assist and 2 PIMs for 9 points.
The surging Aviators remain among the league's elite after a 63-26 thumping of the Lumberjacks. The forwards alone accounted for 46 points with Peter Holland's 20 leading the team. Vancouver, on the other hand, saw minimal production as none of its players managed a single goal. Bracken Kearns had 2 assists and 5 penalty minutes for 11 points.
Back to their high-scoring ways, the Renegades slaughtered the Huskies 71-36. Two players topped 20 points for Regina. Martin St. Pierre earned 25 points while Mark Borowiecki's time in the box propelled him to 22 points. Alaska relied on Zack Kassian who had a goal and 11 PIMs for 15 points this week.
The rollercoaster ride that is the Pioneers was on another high note this week, knocking off the Wave by a score of 60-46. Portland is back above .500 with the win thanks to Kyle Palmieri who had 2 goals and 12 penalty minutes for 20 points. The forwards combined for 35 points. For California, Patrick Maroon's 17 points weren't enough to power his team. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Magnus Paajarvi were below expectations.
Elsewhere, the Narwhals took out the Sharpshooters 42-40 with 18 points from goalie Carter Hutton. The Scorpions stung the Beasts 38-16. And the Hellcats took a step toward digging out of their troubles with a 34-21 win over the Gators, propelled by 20 points from Alexandre Bolduc.
Lots of surprises this week. But most interesting is the fact that there are no more 0s in the IceHL standings. The unbeaten were beaten and the winless won. And a quick glance at the standings proves there's a lot of parity in both leagues. In fact, 17 of 30 teams are one win/loss away from a .500 record.
So it's been anything but boring this season!