Another exciting week of IceHL action has just wrapped up. Check out the scores.
The big question in Week 5 was whether the IceHL EAST's only undefeated team could hang onto that title for yet another week. In fact, they did. The Barracudas topped the Archers 66-53, improving to 5-0 this season. Tampa Bay got double-digit points from all but one member of the team, as Tyler Johnson led the way with 17, including 2 goals and an assist. Goalie Dustin Tokarski's 2 wins made him the Barracudas' second-highest scorer.
For the Archers, Adam Henrique and Justin Schultz combined for 32 points, which included 2 goals and 6 assists. Unfortunately, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been a disappointment recently. The 2 points he earned this week were his first since grabbing 36 total in Weeks 1 and 2. The good news for both teams was that not a single player was left off the scoresheet this week.
The noteworthy team of the week was the Nighthawks, who tied a league record, scoring 82 points to defeat the Sentinels, who had 52. The forwards shined bright for North Carolina as Kyle Palmieri, Keith Aucoin and Jordan Eberle each finished north of 20 points. But that's not to discount the defensemen, who also pitched in with a couple of assists. The Sentinels were led by blue-liner Jake Gardner who had a goal and 4 assists for 16 points.
It looks like the Motorheads are ready to start turning things around, as they snapped a four-week skid to earn their first victory of the season, 36-31 over the Colonials. Chris Bourque made his mark with a goal, 2 assists and 6 minutes in the box for 16 points. Meantime, Boston extends its losing streak to three games, but not for lack of trying from Brayden Schenn, who accounted for 19 points on 4 goals and an assist.
The Olympiques finally put their offensive power on full display with a 66-34 win over the Mariners. Cory Conacher rose to the top with 21 points on a goal, 3 assists and 8 penalty minutes for Montreal. Even D-man Garrett Stafford tallied 13 points on 3 assists and 4 PIMs. Despite the lost, Radko Gudas was most impressive for Hartford, notching 17 points on a goal, 2 assists and 7 penalty minutes.
Coming off their first loss of the season, the Lagers added another this week, falling 51-39 to the Hitmen. Both teams got points from their entire rosters, but Mark Barberio had 17 alone for Chicago. Milwaukee saw below-average points from all of its skaters while Justin Peters earned a place in the spotlight with a pair of wins, good for 12 points.
Meanwhile, the Guardians thumped the Steelcats 62-38. The Blue Crabs won 53-32 over the Arsenal. And after an anomalous Week 4, the Armada and Mammoths went back to their old ways as Quebec beat Minnesota 40-16.
Now let's take a look at the other conference.
An unbelievable new mark was set in Week 5 by the Pioneers, who earned a stunning 92 points in their 92-66 victory over the Huskies. The record-breaking win catapulted Portland from 11th to 6th in the IceHL WEST standings. Most of the credit goes to an inordinate amount of penalty time, but that wasn't the sole source of Mike Kostka's 43 points! The defenseman picked up a goal and 5 assists to go along with 24 PIMS this week. Joining him was Kyle Palmieri with 27 points. Do the math; together they earned 70 points, the greatest performance by any pair of teammates this season.
Meantime, Alaska's performance was nothing to sneeze at. Three players earned 12 points or more, including 21 from Cory Conacher. And every member of the team contributed this week, which was more than could be said for the Pioneers. If the Huskies had been up against almost anyone else this week, it would've almost surely put them back in the W column.
Also making noise this week was the Sharpshooters, claiming their first win of the season with a 46-40 win over the defending league champion Beasts. Chris Bourque and Radko Gudas combined for 33 points on the Saskatoon side while goalie Yann Dannis led Boulder with 12 points on 2 wins. The Beasts got production from the entire roster, but the skaters were all below their scoring averages.
The Kodiaks continued their run of alternating wins and losses with a 67-37 beatdown of the Narwhals. All but one skater hit double-digit points as the blue line itself tallied a total of 28 points. As a team, Edmonton chalked up an impressive 6 goals and 10 assists. The Narwhals, on the other hand, couldn't find a single goal and no player earned more than one assist. Devante Smith-Pelly's 13 points was the team's best this week.
The undefeated Winterhawks and Outlaws continued their winning ways in Week 5. Winnipeg stunned the Aviators 57-34 on a huge performance from Brett Connolly. The NHLer picked up 3 goals, 2 assists and 4 penalty minutes for 22 points. Meanwhile AHL teammate Tyler Johnson led Seattle with 17 points on 2 goals, 1 assist and 6 PIMs.
Dallas just edged out the Cavalry 45-43, relying heavily on Keith Aucoin's 23-point effort. For Calgary, Jake Gardiner and Eric Tangradi combined for 31 points but got only minimal help from two other teammates. The loss leaves Calgary as the only IceHL team yet to find its way to a win this season.
The once-hot Renegades, who opened the year 3-0, were dealt another blow this week falling just short of the Scorpions, 67-65. Both sides got great efforts, but Nazem Kadri's 27 points were key for Salt Lake City. Regina's forwards were all in double digits with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leading the way on 4 goals and 2 assists for 22 points.
Elsewhere, the Wave improved to 4-1 with a 54-44 win over the Gators. And the Lumberjacks trumped the Hellcats 47-30, a lead of 17 points, which is exactly what T.J. Hensick put up for Vancouver this week.
Interesting developments overall in Week 5. A new single-week point record. A new individual player point record. And the season's first wins for previously winless teams. We're almost a quarter of the way through the IceHL season and it's proving to be just as exciting without the NHL as it was with it!
With 11 AHL games in the books so far, here's a look at how the IceHL is stacking up this week.
But wait, there's more. I have a special treat for the numbers geeks among us. And let's be honest, if you're playing fantasy hockey when the NHL is in a lockout, it's a safe bet you're a numbers geek. I've put together stat packages from the first four weeks for each league — a whole page for every team!
Note: Each Stat Pack file is a PDF document that weighs in at about 8 MB.
They contain your team's full season schedule as well as complete roster summary — that is, every player that has graced your roster in this young season and what he's done for you. And these pages will only continue to grow as our 22-week season progresses.
Let me know what you think. They're pretty basic (in my opinion) right now, so if there are any details you think would be worth adding to these stat packs, I'm all ears. Worst case, it's more work than I want to take on. Best case, you get more stats to track.
One last thing. I realize that this version of the IceHL isn't as fun or engaging as the NHL — mainly because we're not dealing with players you've known for years. But please tell me if you think there's something I can do to make the league more enjoyable this season. I'll certainly do my best.
I can say for myself that I'm having an absolute blast despite all the time spent in spreadsheets (or maybe because of it). But then again my team is undefeated to this point, so it's hard not to be exicted about that.
It was a wild Week 4. Will Week 5 bring more uncertainty to the IceHL?
And here's a look at the transactions and roster changes for Week 5.
You'll note the new Modified IR box above. This is how we'll keep track of which teams own the rights to injured players. When these players return from injury, they do not automatically return to their original team's roster. The GM/AGM must add the player back to their roster. If they don't other teams may swoop in to claim the player.
As I mentioned in yesterday's mid-week update, the IceHL took some wicked twists and turns in Week 4. So the action is really starting to heat up. Let's take a look back.
The standout match of the week in the IceHL WEST, by far and away, was the one that saw the Lumberjacks knock off the red-hot Renegades 59-32. The Jacks came off their worst loss of the season, in which they earned just 6 points — the league record low. Vancouver was powered by double-digit performances from four players, including T.J. Hensick who notched a goal and 6 assists for 22 points!
The Renegades, meanwhile, suffered their first loss of the season, breaking a three-game winning streak that had kept them atop the league standings all season. With the defeat, Regina takes a big fall, going from 1st to 4th. The Renegades didn't see the kind of performances they've come to expect as no member of the team managed to score a goal this week. Interestingly, the goalies were stars on both sides of this match-up, each picking up a shutout victory.
The Scorpions made their first attempt at digging out of their 0-3 hole with a close 41-40 victory over the Gators. Travis Hamonic led the way with 2 goals, an assist and 4 penalty minutes for 15 points. Also pitching in for Salt Lake City were Nazem Kadri with a goal and two assists as well as goalie Curtis McElhinney with a shutout win. The Gators picked up 3 goals and an assist from Chris Terry, but below-average production from the rest of the team left them just out of reach of a win.
The Aviators continue to put up record points, taking a 67-30 bite out of the Huskies in Week 4. Seattle led the league in scoring this week and now holds the overall lead with 217 points. This week's big victory was due mostly to the 28 penalty minutes assessed to Kris Newbury, who also added a goal and 2 assists. Alaska got points from most of its roster this week, but no one broke double digits.
Dallas and Winnipeg continued their quiet domination of the IceHL WEST. The Outlaws edged the Kodiaks 29-25 on a goal and 4 assists from Keith Aucoin. Edmonton also got a 16-point week from Nino Niederreiter, but little else. Meanwhile, the Winterhawks beat the Cavalry 47-41 with 17 points from Marcus Foligno. Calgary saw three players grab 10 points each, but still fell to 0-4 on the year.
Elsewhere, a late-week rally killed the Sharpshooters bid for their first win as they lost to the Pioneers 47-38. The undefeated Wave were dealt their first defeat of the season at the hands of the Narwhals, 38-26. And the Beasts are back at .500 with a 40-33 victory over the Hellcats.
Now for a look at the IceHL EAST...
Three IceHL EAST teams entered Week 4 with perfect records. But only one emerged still undefeated. At least one winning streak was bound to come to an end as the Barracudas and Lagers squared off. Ultimately, it was a goal by Tomas Kundratek on the last night of the week that propelled Tampa Bay to a 41-37 win, its fourth in a row. It was a true team effort this week for the Barracudas as everyone chipped in and no one really stood out individually.
For Milwaukee, the star was Zach Boychuck with 3 goals and an assist for 15 points. And despite suffering its first defeat of the year, the Lagers got production from everyone but Mikael Granlund, who is out with an injury. But don't count this team out yet and don't let a single loss lead you to underestimate them. This team, built almost entirely on Charlotte Checkers players, is a force to be reckoned with.
The Blue Crabs set a new IceHL points record this week — coming off a team low of 13 last week — as they destroyed the undefeated Armada 82-25. Kris Newbury picked up 38 points on a goal, 2 assists and 28 penalty minutes! Chris Terry and Slava Voynov combined for another 29 points to help Baltimore to its huge win. The Armada was led by Nazem Kadri but was left with disappointing production from the rest of their roster.
A winless slump came to an end in Minnesota as the Mammoths barely beat the Arsenal 35-34. Tim Erixon led the way with 12 points as the Mammoths prepare for Week 5 under new AGM Chris Gregorio. So-so performances kept Atlanta in it for the most part this week, but weren't quite enough in the end.
Big points were put up by the Mariners as they stunned the Guardians 67-46. Every position was important this week for Hartford as blue-liner Radko Gudas led the team with 19 points on 3 assists and 10 PIMs. Jeremy Smith picked up 18 points on 3 wins (includes carryover) and Chris Mueller earned another 12. New York got above-average production but the Mariners were too hot this time around.
Continuing their march back up the standings, the defending champion Nighthawks knocked off the winless Motorheads by a score of 46-34. North Carolina is in 3rd overall after Keith Aucoin and Brendan Smith combined for 31 points! Patrick Cehlin was impressive with a goal and 4 assists but little else was clicking for Detroit.
Meanwhile, the Sentinels walloped the Colonials 50-12 on big points from Travis Hamonic. The Archers have Cam Atkinson and Richard Clune's combined 31 points to thank for just sneaking past the Hitmen 39-37. And Marcus Foligno and newcomer Alexandre Bolduc powered the Steelcats to a 49-21 win over the Olympiques. Even goalie Martin Jones contributed with a shutout win for the Cats.
Big upsets happened this week. Winning streaks ended. Losing streaks ended. And we all head in to Week 5 a little more uneasy, a little more unsure of where our teams stand. We also enter with a new rule.
Modified IR: Over the weekend, a majority of IceHL GMs/AGMs approved a new rule called Modified Injured Reserve. In a nutshell, it allows teams to conditionally drop injured players with the promise they'll have first dibs on getting them back when they return from injury.
Some teams are already taking advantage of this new rule and that will be noted late Monday when the updated rosters are posted here. These are exciting times in the IceHL!