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El Dorado Wins the Cup!

In EDH, News on May 15, 2021 at 4:23 pm

The upstart West Virginia River Rats didn’t make it easy, but the El Dorado Lynx weathered a late push and closed out their series in six games with a 4-2 home win to take the 2021 championship.

It’s been nine years since Lynx superstar Alex Ovechkin last hoisted the cup. The winger scored a crucial third-period goal in the deciding game to help stave off West Virginia’s comeback bid.

Congratulations to the Lynx and their GM, Chuck Shaeffer, on an excellent season and playoffs!

Vancouver, El Dorado Vie for 1st as Regular Season Ends

In News on April 2, 2021 at 10:03 am

The sun set on the GWMHL’s 2020-21 regular season this week, with a flurry of late movement carrying major playoff implications.

The El Dorado Lynx finished with a commanding lead in the Plante Conference, 14 points head of second-place Baltimore. The biggest news here is the Winnipeg Falcons holding off the Salem Sabercats for the fourth and final playoff birth, ending Salem’s 13-season postseason streak. Winnipeg will make its first playoff appearance since 2016 and just its second since 2004. The third-place Pittsburgh Hornets, meanwhile, will see the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Of the conference’s playoff teams, only the Lynx made an appearance last season.

There were fewer surprises in the Sawchuk Conference, but still much movement. The Vancouver Night Train‘s wonderful fourth quarter allowed them to clinch first overall and ensure home ice advantage, while the Delta Sturgeon climbed to second place with a strong Q4 showing. The Boston Banshees, the reigning champs, sagged from second place all the way to fourth as the West Virginia River Rats clawed their way into third in a positive ending to their roller coaster of a season.

West Virginia’s Leon Draisaitl took the scoring crown, with 126 points, one of five players to reach the century mark this season. Alex Ovechkin of El Dorado had another monster quarter to reach 74 goals on the season, the most by a large margin. It was the sniper’s career-best total, and he becomes just the 10th player in league history to pass the 70-goal mark. Ovechkin’s teammate, Tuukka Rask, led the major goaltending categories with a 2.12 GAA, a .933 save percentage and 32 wins. Charleston rookie Dominik Kubalik led all freshmen with 74 points, but even more remarkable was Baltimore defenseman Cale Makar‘s 67 points as he became a key part of the team’s resurgence.

Playoff Races Take Shape as GWMHL Reaches Season’s Midpoint

In News on December 23, 2020 at 9:22 am

Just in time for the holidays, the GWMHL finished its second quarter yesterday. The halfway point means the mid-season free agent draft is coming, as well as the trade deadline, but most of all it’s a chance to see some bonafide playoff races begin to form.

In the Plante, El Dorado (26-10-4) solidified its hold on first place, 9 points ahead of second-place Baltimore (23-16-1). But a race for the third and fourth spots is already taking shape, as Pittsburgh (19-15-6) and Salem (20-19-1) are barely ahead of Charleston (18-19-3). Winnipeg and South Side are both within striking distance, too.

The Sawchuk race saw West Virginia (27-11-2) come down to earth a bit in the second quarter, making way for a surprising Vancouver club (26-9-5) to narrowly take the top spot. The reigning champs in Boston (25-13-2) are right in the mix, as is Delta (21-12-7). It’ll be an uphill climb for any of the other teams to make a push for a spot, as fifth-place Ice Harbor (20-19-1) trails by 8 points.

Along with his teammates, West Virginia’s Leon Draisaitl cooled off a bit but still holds a healthy lead in the points race with 64. Delta’s Nathan MacKinnon put up 28 points in the second quarter to take second place with 59. Alex Ovechkin of El Dorado leads all goal-scorers with 32. Farmington’s John Carlson has a whopping 45 points, first among defensemen, although Vancouver has four blueliners in the top 10 as they’ve driven the team’s success so far. And finally, Charleston freshman Dominik Kubalik leapfrogged past Baltimore’s injured Cale Makar to take the rookie scoring lead.

River Rats Seize Early Season Lead with Monster First Quarter

In News, WVR on November 16, 2020 at 7:36 pm

The West Virginia River Rats, who had one of the league’s worst records last season, made a huge splash to start the 2020-21 season, going 18-2-0 and scoring 114 goals in their first 20 games. It’s early, but that high-octane offensive output, led by a dominant top line of Leon Draisaitl, Sebastian Aho and Patrik Laine, puts the Rats on pace to shatter league records by season’s end.

In the Plante Conference, the usually competitive Parry Sound sagged to a very disappointing 6-12-2 start, leaving an opening for both Baltimore (13-7-0) and Pittsburgh (12-6-2) to put themselves into the top four in the conference. Salem (12-8-0) made up for its anemic offensive start (57 goals) by allowing just 49 while El Dorado (13-6-1) also had a strong start.

No team in the Sawchuk was remotely as good as West Virginia, but the first quarter saw good starts from defending Gump Cup champ Boston (14-5-1), thanks to sparkling play by Ben Bishop. Vancouver (13-4-3) had a surprisingly good showing, putting the team a few points ahead of cup contending division rival Delta (11-6-3). Adirondack fans were shocked to see its team limp along to just 3 wins in the first 20 and the league’s worst record.

Draisaitl leads all scorers after 20 games, with a jaw-dropping 45 points. Linemates Aho and Laine are third and fourth, respectively, and Aho leads all goal-scorers with 20. San Jose’s Mitch Marner is a distant second behind Draisaitl in the scoring race, with 33 points. Baltimore’s strong quarter was largely driven by its blueline, which featured three players — Brent Burns, Anthony DeAngelo and rookie Cale Makar — scoring at a point-per-game pace. Also of note, Vancouver’s two Sheas, Weber and Theodore, are one-two in defenseman goals with 10 and 9. Makar’s 20 points give him a five-point lead in the rookie scoring race.

Boston’s Bishop has three shutouts already, along with the best stats (2.39, .920) of any of the goalies who have seen more than half of their teams’ games so far.

Cale Makar, Goalies Headline 2020 Rookie Draft

In Transactions on September 13, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Defenseman Cale Makar made the first wave of the 2020 GWMHL Rookie Draft when he was selected in the top spot by the Baltimore Crab. Jack Hughes went second overall, to West Virginia, while Kaapo Kakko will join the South Side after being picked third.

But the real story of the first round was in goal. After months of trying to solidify its goaltending, the San Jose Hosers made Igor Shesterkin the 5th overall pick. Winnipeg picked up Elvis Merzlikins at 6th and Farmington selected Ilya Samsonov at 9th for an unprecedented three goalies in the top 10.

Eight draft day trades were completed, albeit with few blockbusters. The biggest moves were likely El Dorado shipping Max Pacioretty and Darren Helm to Winnipeg for a pair of 2021 picks and Charleston swapping its 2021 first rounder for Ice Harbor‘s 2020 first, with which the Chiefs chose impact defenseman Adam Fox. In other moves, Boston sent Ryan Getzlaf and a pick to Hamilton for Travis Zajac, Ice Harbor acquired Boone Jenner from the Banshees, and Vancouver sent Nick Foligno and Nikita Zadorov to Delta and South Side respectively.

The day also saw the first ever picks for the two expansion teams set to begin play in 2021. The Hershey Bears got a head start on their roster with eight picks, led in the first round by Jesper Boqvist, and while the Clarington Coyotes dealt away its first-ever 1st rounder, it would select Jack Studnicka with a second rounder a few picks later.

Teams will now set their sites on the pre-season Free Agent Draft before finalizing their rosters.

See the complete results of the 2020 Rookie Draft.

Offseason Trading Opens; Domi, Goligoski on the Move

In BOS, DEL, DEN, HAM, HSY, News, Transactions on June 16, 2020 at 3:59 pm

Trading is now open in the GMWHL, and the newly crowned Boston Banshees got things started, dealing forward Max Domi to the Denver Spurs for forward Colton Sissons and netminder Anton Khudobin. Domi began his career with the Spurs and was traded to Boston in 2017 in an eight-player blockbuster that brought now-departed Braden Holtby to Denver. He registered 13 goals and 31 points in 51 games this season with the Banshees. Boston hopes Khudobin can provide some high-quality support for starter Ben Bishop.

It was the first of three deals on the day. Later, Boston welcomed new expansion club Hershey to the league by dealing three 4th round picks (its own, Parry Sound’s and Pittsburgh’s) along with rookie forward Eric Robinson for Hershey’s 2nd rounder.

Finally, the Delta Sturgeon said goodbye to forward Dylan Strome and long-time defenseman Alex Goligoski, sending them to the Hamilton Ti-Cats for a pair of 2nd round picks. Strome has disappointed so far in his career, but Goligoski has been a big part of the Sturgeon blueline for 11 seasons and is 15th in franchise history for points. Still, the 10 points he had in 2019-20 was a career low.

The GWMHL Is Expanding

In News on June 16, 2020 at 3:36 pm

It’s with great pleasure that we announce that, for the first time in two decades, the Gump Worsley Memorial Hockey League is expanding.

Beginning in the 2021-2022 season, the GWMHL will welcome two new franchises into the fold: Bruce Carricker’s Hershey Bears and Matthew Irwin’s Clarington Coyotes.

The Bears and Coyotes become the first expansion teams to join the league since Vancouver and Great Lakes (originally South Park) joined the league in 1999. The expansion teams will be eligible to take part in the 2020 rookie draft, and the league will run a full expansion draft following the 2020-2021 regular season and playoffs.

The Boston Banshees Are Your 2020 Gump Cup Champion!

In BOS, News on May 3, 2020 at 7:31 pm

The Boston Banshees have put an exclamation point at the end of their miraculous season, beating the El Dorado Lynx in five games to win the 2020 Gump Cup.

The Banshees swept both Vancouver and Delta, and took the first three against the Lynx, too. El Dorado finally handed Boston its first postseason loss with a 2-1 squeaker in game 4, but the Banshees bounced back, overcoming a 2-0 deficit in game 5 to win 3-2.

It’s the first win for the Banshees franchise since moving to Boston, and makes up for the Banshees’ back-to-back finals losses in 2017 and 2018.

Congratulations to Ted Geoffrion and the Banshees on the incredible finish!

Boston and El Dorado Will Vie for the Gump Cup

In BOS, EDH, News on April 27, 2020 at 8:04 pm

The matchup is set for the 2020 Gump Cup: the El Dorado Lynx and Boston Banshees will face off in a best-of-seven series to determine this year’s top team.

The league will crown a champ other than the Salem Sabercats for the first time since 2016. El Dorado last won it all in 2012, while Boston is looking for its first championship since 1998, back when it was the Kansas City Copperheads and under different ownership.

Despite the long drought, the Banshees have an air of destiny about them heading into the series. They swept both Vancouver (no real surprise) and Delta (a much bigger one) on the road to the finals, following a magnificent 57-17-8 regular season that saw them lose just five games on the road. Still, the team is no doubt haunted by its two straight finals losses in 2017 and 2018.

The Lynx, meanwhile, came into the playoffs as the third seed in their conference, and gutted out wins against the higher seed in two straight seven-game series. And they’re doing it on the backs of unlikely heroes like Derek Ryan (who leads the team with 15 points) and Jeff Petry. As the underdogs, they may be able to take the Banshees by surprise.

The series begins this week in Boston.

Playoff races take shape heading into final quarter

In News on February 23, 2020 at 7:50 pm

With three-quarters of a season behind us and just 18 games left to play, the playoff races are heating up in both GWMHL conferences. A quiet mid-season trade deadline saw few moves, mostly from teams out of the playoff picture, but some contenders might wish they’d swung a deal or two now that the playoff picture is looking tight.

In the Plante Conference

With Parry Sound, El Dorado, and Salem all but inked in for the postseason in some order or another — El Dorado seized 1st this quarter — Baltimore was just two points back of Pittsburgh heading into Q3. And while the Crab’s record was mediocre (13-10-1), Pittsburgh’s was worse (11-12-1), giving Baltimore the fourth playoff berth for now. The Hornets are just two points back, though. Should be a nailbiter.

In the Sawchuk Conference

Boston’s road dominance continued in Q3 (8-2-2) and they kept their stranglehold on 1st. The big riser was Vancouver — the Night Train had a very strong quarter, going 9-1-2 on the road and leapfrogging not just Ice Harbor but Delta as well for 3rd place behind Adirondack. Delta only trails by a point and will likely make up that ground in Q4, but it leaves the Storm 7 points back and in need of a stellar Q4 to steal the final playoff spot.

San Jose’s stars leading the way

Although they’re all but out of the playoff picture, San Jose’s top forwards are dominating the individual categories. John Tavares and Steven Stamkos are 1st and 2nd in scoring with 93 and 92 points respectively, just ahead of Ice Harbor’s Sasha Barkov (91), fellow Hoser Gabriel Landeskog (90), and Parry Sound’s Connor McDavid (90). Tavares (46), Denver’s Cam Atkinson (45), El Dorado’s Alex Ovechkin (44) all seem poised to join the 50-goal club. Boston’s Mark Giordano (65) has a 9-point lead over Denver’s Keith Yandle (56) for the defenseman scoring crown, while South Side’s Brady Tkachuk still leads the rookie race with 49 points. Boston’s Ben Bishop leads all netminders in wins with 27, and is 1st in GAA (2.50) and 2nd in save percentage (.919).