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Archive for the ‘SCA’ Category

Fire Ants Win Draft Lottery

In SCA, Transactions on April 10, 2016 at 1:24 pm

The South Carolina Fire Ants won the draft lottery today, moving from 3rd to 1st. Will the Ants take Connor McDavid or go off the board? We’ll find out in a few months.

The San Jose Hosers held at 2nd while the Portland Winterhawks, who had the league’s worst record (14-56-12) fell to 3rd overall. Still, in what’s shaping up to be one of the best talent pools to date, the ‘Hawks are all but guaranteed a fine player.

Which Deadline Pickups Made the Biggest Impact After 24 Games?

In DEN, NAS, SCA, Special Features, STL, VAN on June 12, 2013 at 9:42 pm

streit

It was the most active trade deadline in recent memory. 24 games later, most of the players who found new homes have had a chance to show what they’ve got. But which teams’ acquisitions made the biggest difference?

1) Saint Louis Blues (17-6-1 since deadline)

The Blues were a good team before the deadline, but that didn’t deter them from making bold moves – and it paid off. Daniel Alfredsson (9 goals in 24 games) and Alex Steen (13 points in 12 games) were notable producers, but the real impact was on overall team depth. They’ve never been harder to defend.

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Fire Ants Bring In Defensive Help

In BOS, News, SCA, Transactions on May 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm

It isn’t the type of head-turning deal we’ve seen leading up to the trade deadline, but there really are no small moves. Today, the South Carolina Fire Ants acquired the services of defenseman Matt Greene from the Boston Banshees for a third round pick in 2013.

The Banshees have made it known they aren’t giving up – if the playoffs started today, they’d be in – but fine-tuning. In Greene (who was once cut from the Fire Ants, and has 9 assists in 40 games this year) the Ants add another veteran as they try for the post-season. Notably, they’ve now dealt their top three picks in this year’s rookie draft.

Trade Action Continues, Fire Ants Load Up

In News, PIT, SCA, Transactions on April 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Not to be left out of the white-hot trade market, the South Carolina Fire Ants have made a move, picking up veterans Brad Richards and Sergei Gonchar from the Pittsburgh Hornets. That experienced scoring came at a price, as the Ants surrender their first and second round picks in 2013, along with young blueliner Travis Hamonic.

But South Carolina badly needed a player like Richards, who likely slots into the first line, in the absence of Travis Zajac. The Hornets, meanwhile, continue amassing a young defense corps also highlighted by Victor Hedman, Dmitry Kulikov, and Slava Voynov.

Playoff Preview: Conference Semis

In EDH, NAS, News, PWH, SAL, SCA, Special Features, STE, VAN, WVR on May 5, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Plante Conference Semifinals

#1 Salem Wannabees (54-16-12) vs. #4 South Carolina Fire Ants (34-40-8)

Another year, another Salem powerhouse. Once again, no team was better in the regular season – or even really very close. The Wannabees have it all: scoring, defense, goaltending. That’ll make for a tough slog for a plucky, often-undermanned South Carolina, whose sub-.500 record was still enough to snag the last playoff spot.

Season Series: Salem won 4-1-1

#2 Sterling Eagles (44-24-14) vs. #3 El Dorado Lynx (43-27-12)

This is the Eagles’ first playoff appearance since 2006-2007 and they have goaltending to thank for it. Tim Thomas will lead the way for a team that allowed just 157 goals during the regular season (no other team had fewer than 200). The Lynx, meanwhile, finished just four points back of Sterling, so it’ll be tight — especially if the ageless Teemu Selanne plays the way he did all year. Of note: both teams averaged under 2 goals per game against each other during the regular season, and they even played to a 0-0 tie.

Season Series: Tied 2-2-2

Sawchuk Conference Semifinals

#1 Vancouver Night Train (49-26-7) vs. #4 Nashville Knights (39-32-11)

After finishing with just 72 points last season, the Night Train bounced back and captured the conference crown, narrowly avoiding a first-round series against Portland. The Night Train weren’t exactly dominant all year but found a way to win, largely thanks to Jonathan Toews and a cast of clutch scorers. The question is, can Pekka Rinne get his act together? And will Nashville be able to overcome their paper-thin D, as they did for much of the season?

Season Series: Vancouver won 6-1-1

#2 West Virginia River Rats (46-27-9) vs. #3 Portland Winterhawks (45-29-8)

The two highest-scoring teams of the regular season [check Salem] go head-to-head in the opening round. Can the Winterhawks get their dynasty back on track against the reigning Gump Cup champs? Crosby, Thornton. Staal, Spezza. Perry, Iginla. Vanek, Kovalchuk. This should be fun for everyone but the goaltenders.

Season Series: West Virginia won 4-1-1

Biggest Midseason Surprises of 2011-12

In DEN, EDH, IHS, NAS, News, SCA, Special Features, STE on January 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm

We’re halfway through our season. So what’s been raising our eyebrows?

As a Rule, Eagles are Pretty Badass

The Sterling Eagles have missed the playoffs four seasons in a row. But after 40 games, they’re second overall in the entire league with a stellar 23-12-5 record, and even managed to steal five points on the road against division rival Salem. They’re getting help where it counts, like unheralded winger Nikolai Kulemin, who already has 22 goals. Previous career high? Eight.

Backups Earning Their Keep

The Eagles’ Tim Thomas has the numbers (1.88, .939) but backup Johan Hedberg is winning more games. His record is 12-6-0 to Thomas’ 11-6-5. Likewise, the Ice Harbor Storm’s Alex Auld (.914) and Jonathan Bernier (.933) are busy overshadowing the “starting tandem” of Mathieu Garon (.885) and J-S Giguere (.874).

Pick One Already!

The Storm aren’t the only one with a menagerie of netminders in a pen out back. Five goalies have seen action for the Nashville Knights already this season: Sergei Bobrovsky (17 games), Cory Schneider (16), Ray Emery (3), Brian Boucher (3), and Mike Smith (1). That’s two rookies backed up by three vets, and the elevator pitch for an ensemble basic-cable sitcom.

Ovie-Shadowed

Alex Ovechkin is not leading the El Dorado Lynx in points. That’s kind of remarkable. The Lynx are okay – still in good playoff position at the halfway point, actually – thanks largely to the ageless Teemu Selanne, who has 18 goals and 45 points to Ovie’s 20 and 41.

Giddy-Up?

The Denver Spurs offense could use a swift, spiky kick in the rear. They don’t have the lowest GF, but let’s break it down: they’re deep up the middle and shallow on the wings, and that means they’re leaving lots of goals on the table. Mike Richards and Daniel Briere each have just 18 points in 40 games. Joffrey Lupul is their top scorer but has the lowest point total (28) of any team leader league-wide. Oh, also, he’s nursing an injury that could see him miss significant time.

Head of the Class

The top five draft picks (Skinner, Hall, Seguin, Eberle, and Stepan) are all playing pretty well, but they’re trailing in the rookie scoring race to an unlikely gaggle (herd? colony? murder?) of youngsters: South Carolina’s Tyler Ennis, Nashville’s PK Subban, Ice Harbor’s Mikael Backlund, and Baltimore’s Michael Grabner.

Brett Freaking Clark

Subban isn’t just the second highest scoring freshman so far. He also leads all defensemen in goals with 13, which might just make him the leading rookie-of-the-year candidate at this point. But that’s not even the most surprising development on Nashville’s blueline: Brett freaking Clark already has 10 goals, people. That’s just crazy.

So, Turns Out We’re in Love with Stay-at-Home Defensemen

In BOS, SAL, SCA, SFS, Special Features, VAN on December 4, 2011 at 10:54 am

Gaaah!

You wouldn’t think we’d love our solid-yet-unspectacular defensemen, but the numbers don’t lie.

We’re head over heels. We’d marry those guys and their good positioning and their low point totals if we could.

They’re our unsung heroes, our stay-at-home defensemen. And they have to do all the laundry, darn it.

Take a spin through the franchise games played leaders throughout the league and you’ll see: in many franchises, real longevity comes not from being a high-end sniper or silky setup man but a stay-at-home blueliner toiling away in the muck.

5. Mattias Norstrom

Norstrom never managed more than 17 points in a single season during his GWMHL career. In his day, he was one of the league’s best defensive defensemen, and after 12 seasons he’s the South Carolina Fire Ants franchise leader in GP with 832. (But not for long: Milan Hejduk and Marian Hossa are both poised to surpass him early this season.)

4. Darryl Sydor

Calling Sydor a “stay-at-home” defenseman is a bit misleading, considering he holds the league’s all-time worst career plus-minus. He put in several solid offensive seasons early in his career, but as time wore on his role became – allegedly – more defensive. The fact that he racked up nearly 1000 games (944, to be exact) with the San Francisco franchise is a testament to… something. We’re not sure what, actually.

3. Scott Hannan

Hannan’s the only player left from expansion Vancouver‘s inaugural year. He was drafted in 1999 and has been a steady – and mostly invisible – fixture on the blueline ever since. Hannan has a commanding lead as the Night Train’s all-time GP leader (694 to second place Filip Kuba’s 629). He’s also the only active Gump player on this list.

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Season Preview: Plante

In BAL, CHA, DEN, EDH, GLP, PIT, SAL, SCA, STE, Uncategorized, WIN on November 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm

The Sawchuk Conference has its powerhouses – and the last five cups. But the Plante is where all the intrigue is.

Apart from a strong Salem squad fresh off a trip to the Gump Cup Finals, the entire conference is full of dark horses – young teams, growing teams, sure, but few that are in flat-out rebuilding mode. That kind of parity makes the conference incredibly tough to call.

In – D Ryan McDonagh, F Nino Niederreiter, G Jacob Markstrom, D Michael Sauer, F Blake Geoffrion, F Teemu Hartikainen, F Brandon Prust
Out – F Evgeni Malkin, F Cal O’Reilly, D Bryan McCabe, F Darroll Powe, D Anton Stralman, F Rob Schremp, F Jamie Langenbrunner

Baltimore made the boldest move of the off-season, unloading Evgeni Malkin for all of Pittsburgh’s draft picks. That meant a pretty big personnel turnover – 7 guys in and 7 out, not counting poor Steven Kampfer, released before he even got a sniff. It’s hard to look as this as anything but a small step backwards in the short term, but any team with Anze Kopitar is poised to compensate for the loss of a player of Malkin’s calibre, and the team still has a strong core in its prime.

In – F Luke Adam, F Matt Halischuk, F Matt Calvert, D Jason Garrison, F BJ Crombeen, F Mike Knuble
Out –  G Michal Neuvirth, F Alexander Frolov, F Benoit Pouliot, F M-A Pouliot, D Kurtis Foster, D Oskars Bartulis

Charleston should be a playoff team, there should be little doubt of that. After a surprising trip to the finals led to two straight years of mediocrity, the Chiefs started rounding back into form when Steven Stamkos hit the scene. Now that they have a marquee scorer, they have a roster with few glaring weaknesses, and with Miikka Kiprusoff and Jonathan Quick splitting duties in goal, they should be one of the Plante’s better teams.

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Draft Day: The Big Winners

In BAL, GLP, PIT, SCA, Special Features on October 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm

It’ll take a few years until there’s really a “win” or a “loss” from today’s GWMHL Rookie Draft (when we promise to mercilessly mock the losers) and really, every team made some smart choices and picked up intriguing young talent. But some teams stand out for us as having made the most of their picks – or lack thereof. Here’s our top four.

4) South Carolina Fire Ants

The Ants dealt away their final two picks, but they shored up an injury-prone defense. Travis Hamonic (15th overall) could well blossom into a key on this injury-prone defense, someone who could play with Zdeno Chara while Sami Salo is on IR. The acquisition of veteran blueline Filip Kuba also helps in the short run.

3) Baltimore Crab

They traded away one of the game’s best in Evgeni Malkin, but they got what they wanted: picks, picks, picks. Never shy about making a splash, the Crab came away with a lot of long-term talent, including potential impact forward Nino Niederreiter (10th overall) and goalie Jacob Markstrom (30th). Ryan McDonagh (8th) and Michael Sauer (48th) give them an instant defense pairing – and they need one.

2) Pittsburgh Hornets

It seems impossible that a team with no picks in a draft could walk away a winner. But the Hornets made a bold move in sacrificing all their selections and came out of it with their deepest roster in years. Malkin is still young, if injury-prone, and may well end up on Brad Richards’ wing, while both Bryan McCabe and Cal O’Reilly should be able to contribute this season.

1) Great Lakes Pilots

The Pilots were the big winners at the draft lottery, moving up from 6th to 2nd, so it’s no big leap to say that they won the draft, too. Defenseman Nick Leddy will help shore up the back end, but the addition of Taylor Hall finally gives them a left-winger to play with Martin St. Louis. The team still has some big holes to fill up front, but the future’s looking a lot brighter than it was yesterday.

The 4 Most Hilarious Top-5 Picks of All Time

In SAL, SCA, Special Features, VAN on August 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Hindsight is nature’s best talent scout.

Sure, some consensus picks fail to live up to expectations. Others have careers derailed by injuries. But not everyone can turn to those excuses when they look back at their wacky, off-the-board picks. Today we look at four spectacular examples of teams who took a flyer on a player in a coveted top-five slot… and lost in a way that leaves you shaking your head.

4. Kristian Huselius, drafted 3rd overall by Vancouver, 2002

Kristian Huselius is still playing and still contributing offense. As a matter of fact, he broke the 100-point barrier in ’07-’08 – though not for the team who drafted him – and is enjoyed a strong 2011 postseason with Salem, with 20 points in 16 games.

But Huselius stands out as a hilarious draft pick because of the company he kept in his draft class. In 2002, the Vancouver Sea Otters had the third overall pick. Drafted immediately before their turn at the podium? Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk. At 4th? Pavel Datsyuk. The city of Vancouver would like that one back.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
02-03  Vancouver Sea Otters       79   21   14   35  -10   28
03-04  Vancouver Sea Otters       78   28   21   49    7   20
04-06  Vancouver Sea Otters       44    1    2    3   -4   18
04-06  Montreal Smashers           9    1    1    2   -3    0
06-07  Salem Wannbees             78   22   20   42  -12   26
07-08  Salem Wannabees            81   50   51  101   63   24
08-09  Salem Wannabees            80   20   17   37    0   14
09-10  Salem Wannabees            37    8   12   20    7   18
10-11  Salem Wannabees            68   17   33   50   14   38
                  Totals         554  168  171  339   62  186

3. Vladimir Malakhov, drafted 4th overall by New York Islanders, 1993

Like Huselius, Vladimir Malakhov had a few years as a solid player, but he never came close to the career-high 64 points he racked up in his rookie season. His career numbers are pretty good… for a second rounder.

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