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Boston Opens Trading with Pair of Moves

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2021 at 8:47 am

To the surprise of no one, it was the Boston Banshees – a team in constant flux – who were the first to strike once trading opened following the 2020-21 season.

The Banshees made a pair of moves, first acquiring veteran goaltender Jaroslav Halak and a third round pick from the expansion Clarington Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Oliver Kylington and two fourth rounders. Then, in a splashier move, the Banshees unloaded veterans Joe Pavelski and Zach Parise to the West Virginia River Rats. In return, the Banshees acquired promising forward Robert Thomas, Nicolas Roy, and a third.

The latter move signals a retooling year for the Banshees and a commitment to go all-in by the River Rats, who are fresh off a 6-game loss to El Dorado in the cup finals. The Rats lost three key veterans in the expansion draft (Jacob Markstrom, Mark Giordano, and David Savard) and seem intent on reloading quickly. Parise had 37 goals and 59 points in 82 games last season for Boston, while Pavelski added 20 goals and 52 points.

Season in Review: Records Toppled in 2020-21

In Uncategorized on June 15, 2021 at 2:52 pm

As the league enters the offseason and begins planning for 2021-22, it’s a good opportunity to look back at a few of the major milestones we saw during this past regular season.

Most notably, El Dorado‘s Alex Ovechkin has become the GWMHL’s all-time leading goal scorer with 699, just eclipsing Teemu Selanne’s previous mark of 697. He’s poised to become the league’s first 700-goal man early next season. His 74 goals last year were both a career best and good for 6th all-time. Quite a season for the sniper, who also hoisted the cup with the champion Lynx.

Salem‘s Patrick Marleau also etched his name in the books, becoming the league’s all-time leader in games played with 1626, breaking the record of 1,603 previously held by Jaromir Jagr. Denver winger Tom Wilson set a new single-season record for hits with 294, five ahead of Keith Tkachuk’s 289 from all the way back in 1997-98.

Great Lakes starter Andrei Vasilevskiy faced the third most shots of all time (2,575), behind only Henrik Lundqvist (2,675 in 10-11) and Miikka Kiprusoff (2,602 in 06-07). Great Lakes also set a new single-season high for total shots allowed (3,415), but, shockingly, were surpassed by another, even more porous defense: the Portland Winterhawks allowed 3,446 shots against, the most ever in a single season.

Not to be outdone, the Parry Sound Orrsmen posted the third worst goals against average (4.40) in league history, behind only the New Jersey Devils and Rochester Chenes Royale. If those names don’t ring a bell, it’s because those records were both set in the 1993-94 season, nearly 30 years ago.

Adirondack Keeps First Pick, Farmington Climbs in Draft Lottery

In Uncategorized on June 14, 2021 at 6:15 pm

The Adirondack Aces, who endured a nightmare 22-53-7 regular season, retained the first overall pick today, as the league held the lottery to determine the order of the first round of the 2021 Rookie Draft. Bigger news was that the Farmington Fighting Saints, who initially held the 11th spot in the lottery, climbed all the way to the number two spot. Hamilton claimed the third pick, leaving Parry Sound, Portland, South Side, and Great Lakes fans reeling at having dropped two spots. Still, in what projects to be a strong draft pool in the first round, all teams should be able to walk away with a blue-chip prospect.

The opening 12 picks in the first round will be:

1. Adirondack
2. Farmington
3. Hamilton
4. Parry Sound
5. Portland
6. South Side
7. Great Lakes
8. Denver
9. Ice Harbor (from Charleston)
10. San Jose
11. Salem
12. Ice Harbor

The Expansion Draft is Complete!

In Uncategorized on June 8, 2021 at 12:44 pm

The first GWMHL expansion draft in over two decades took place this week and last, and saw 60 players join either the Clarington Coyotes or the Hershey Bears. With the 20 existing teams largely protecting their more promising young players, Clarington and Hershey had their pick of several bigger veteran names, including Mark Giordano, Paul Stastny, and Dustin Brown.

See the complete 2021 Expansion Draft results here.

Who was hit the hardest?

Every team lost three players, meaning no one really avoided losing a regular roster contributor, but a few teams felt the pain more than the rest.

Farmington gave up Stastny (35 goals last year) alongside Tanner Pearson (23 goals) and prospect defenseman Andrew Peeke. They’ll need youngsters Drake Batherson, Josh Norris, and Conor Garland to step up and fill the void in the top nine. The newly crowned champs, El Dorado, lost two key depth pieces in Mats Zuccarello (21 goals in 50 games) and Brown (19 goals), along with checking centre Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. In losing Brown and Bellemare, they enter next season without either of the players they acquired in a mid-season trade with Parry Sound.

Also of note, the West Virginia River Rats two veteran defensemen — including Giordano (23 points in 59 games) — and goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who they may have been banking on shouldering quite a few starts next season. The Vancouver Night Train were relieved of goalie Chris Driedger (2.33 and .932 in 14 game), steady two-way defenseman Dmitry Orlov (24 points in 56 games) and Adam Henrique, who scored 39 goals last season — the most among the drafted players — while riding shotgun with Mat Barzal.

Finally, the Baltimore Crab lost two key players nursing serious injuries, winger Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Hampus Lindholm to Clarington and Hershey, respectively. Their new clubs hope they can both bounce back. If they do, the losses could prove costly for the Crab.

A look at the expansion teams’ rosters

So where do things stand? With trading set to open and both Clarington and Hershey now spilling over with depth, we could see a flurry of moves. But if the season started today, this is what the Expansion Draft has added to these teams’ rosters.

Clarington Coyotes

Already on the roster: F Vitaly Abramov, F Jack Studnicka, D Cale Fleury, D Riley Stillman, G Sergei Bobrovsky

C Nazem Kadri
C Paul Stastny
C Nick Bonino
C Lars Eller
C Blake Lizotte
C Mitchell Stephens
LW Tanner Pearson
LW Nick Paul
LW Scott Laughton
LW Jeff Skinner
LW Artturi Lehkonen
LW Brock McGinn
LW Tyler Benson
RW Mats Zuccarello
RW Vladimir Tarasenko
RW Jeff Carter
RW Joel Armia
RW Josh Archibald
RW Jake Virtanen
D Alex Goligoski
D Jamie Oleksiak
D Brendan Smith
D Calvin de Haan
D Connor Clifton
D David Savard
D Justin Braun
D Dennis Cholowski
G Jacob Markstrom
G Braden Holtby
G Jaroslav Halak

Hershey Bears

Already on the roster: F Jesper Boqvist, F Pierre Engvall, F David Gustafsson, F Nikolai Prokhorkin, F Eric Robinson, F Carter Verhaeghe, F Mikhail Vorobyev, D Dennis Gilbert, G Adam Werner

C Chandler Stephenson
C Adam Henrique
C Radek Faksa
C Tyler Bozak
C Alexander Kerfoot
C Colton Sissons
C Ivan Barbashev
C Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
C Brandon Sutter
C Aleksi Saarela
C Alexander True
LW Calle Jarnkrok
LW Boone Jenner
LW Valeri Nichushkin
RW Dustin Brown
RW Warren Foegele
RW Luke Glendening
D Mark Giordano
D Dmitry Orlov
D Kevin Shattenkirk
D Danny DeKeyser
D Brady Skjei
D Patrik Nemeth
D Travis Hamonic
D Hampus Lindholm
D Andrew Peeke
D Martin Fehervary
G Mike Smith
G Chris Driedger
G Antti Raanta

Expansion Draft Hits Halfway Point

In Uncategorized on June 5, 2021 at 2:19 pm

The 2021 Expansion Draft has hit its midpoint, with 15 picks in the books for each of Clarington and Hershey.

Both teams grabbed goalies early, with Clarington picking veteran Jacob Markstrom from recent cup finalist West Virginia and Hershey selecting relatively inexperienced Chris Driedger from Vancouver, but after that the picks were dominated by forwards. Notables include now-former El Dorado wingers Mats Zuccarello (to Clarington) and Dustin Brown (to Hershey), along with Jeff Carter (from Salem to Clarington) and Paul Stastny (from Farmington to Clarington).

Both teams took big swings at injured Baltimore skaters, as Clarington made Vladimir Tarasenko an early pick while Hershey added defenseman Hampus Lindholm.

To date, both West Virginia and Winnipeg have had three players chosen and the rest of their rosters are now safe. Meanwhile, neither Great Lakes nor Portland have had a single player chosen.

See the complete results here.

The Expansion Draft begins

In Uncategorized on June 2, 2021 at 11:36 am

The GWMHL’s first expansion since 1999 is well underway, as the two new teams — the Clarington Coyotes and Hershey Bears — began making their Expansion Draft selections. The process is expected to take some time as teams update their protected lists with every selection.
Kicking things off, Hershey selected versatile forward C Chandler Stephenson from the Winnipeg Falcons. Stephenson joins a growing roster that already includes promising 2020 draftees like Carter Verhaeghe.

Dave Atkinson (1964-2021)

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2021 at 2:00 pm

GWMHL founding member, former commissioner, and most passionate supporter Dave Atkinson passed away at his home in Washington on May 10, 2021. He was 57 and is survived by his wife and two sons.

Dave was a good friend to many in the APBA Hockey community and a linchpin of the NHL hockey disk team, devoting countless hours of his time to allow others to enjoy this hobby. It’s impossible to imagine this community without him. Dave’s passion, commitment, and rigorous standards may be unmatched in the APBA Hockey world. The GWMHL family misses him deeply. This league and, most importantly, the friendships we’ve formed through it stand as a tribute to his memory. Good travels, Big Dog.

Read Dave’s obituary here.

Playoff Preview: Round 2

In Uncategorized on April 25, 2021 at 4:26 pm

#1 EL DORADO LYNX (53-19-10) vs. #3 PITTSBURGH HORNETS (40-33-9)

Regular season series
EDH won 3-2-1

Top scorers
EDH: Ovechkin (81, 74-23-97), O’Reilly (82, 18-77-95), Connor (82, 28-38-66), Petry (82, 16-41-57)
PIT: Smith (82, 41-44-85), Meier (82, 39-37-76), Malkin (60, 27-49-76), Duclair (72, 43-26-69)

Goaltending
EDH: Rask (48, 2.12, .933), Price (34, 3.48, .906)
PIT: Murray (41, 3.42, .899), Mrazek (41, 3.68, .894)

It took the Pittsburgh Hornets a third-period comeback in game 7 to complete its minor upset over Baltimore. Now they face El Dorado, which has been sitting idle since making short work of Winnipeg. The Lynx actually struggled with the Hornets somewhat during the regular season, and will need to work hard to stop Pittsburgh’s clutch scorers Timo Meier and Reilly Smith, who each had five goals in the first round. But considering El Dorado’s depth and vastly superior goaltending (although Matt Murray more or less saved Pittsburgh’s postseason in the end), it will take a really special round for Pittsburgh to stop the Lynx’s march to the finals.

#1 VANCOUVER NIGHT TRAIN (54-17-11) vs. #3 WEST VIRGINIA RIVER RATS (47-29-6)

Regular season series
VAN won 5-1-0

Top scorers
VAN: Lindholm (82, 42-54-96), Stone (75, 31-61-92), Barzal (82, 22-63-85), Palmieri (77, 38-35-73)
WVR: Draisaitl (82, 44-82-126), Laine (79, 29-64-93), Aho (82, 48-35-83), Nelson (82, 27-47-74)

Goaltending
VAN: Jarry (39, 2.76, .915), Rittich (29, 3.28, .895), Driedger (14, 2.33, .932)
WVR: Francouz (33, 3.56, .901), Markstrom (27, 2.77, .918), Saros (22, 2.95, .907)

The Night Train were able to overcome a 1-1 home split in their series against Boston while #2 seed Delta could not manage the same in its series, dropping three straight on the road to be ousted by the River Rats in 5. Oddly enough, Vancouver dominated the season series with West Virginia, winning five of six games, all in the third quarter, including two dominant road wins. Yet, on paper, the River Rats have a number of advantages: more solid goaltending (the Night Train were forced to white-knuckle their way through a David Rittich start in game 6 while the Rats got sensational netminding from Pavel Francouz and Jacob Markstrom in round 1), better special teams, and better top-end talent. Still, the two-way, uptempo, puck-moving game that led Vancouver to such great regular season heights should once again be on display, if they can only shut down Draisaitl and Aho.

Playoff Preview: Round 1

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2021 at 6:27 pm

The 2021 Gump Cup Playoffs are upon us! Here’s a look at the four series that are about to get underway.

Plante Conference

#1 EL DORADO LYNX (53-19-10) vs. #4 WINNIPEG FALCONS (37-35-10)

Regular season series
EDH won 4-1-1

Top scorers
EDH: Ovechkin (81, 74-23-97), O’Reilly (82, 18-77-95), Connor (82, 28-38-66), Petry (82, 16-41-57)
WPG: Pettersson (81, 40-57-97), Hoffman (82, 37-50-87), Pacioretty (82, 35-47-82), Suter (82, 6-54-60)

Goaltending
EDH: Rask (48, 2.12, .933), Price (34, 3.48, .906)
WPG: Kuemper (34, 3.03, .916), Merzlikins (31, 3.26, .901), Allen (17, 3.36, .912)

Winnipeg held off Salem to hang onto the final playoff spot in the Plante, earning the privilege of facing one of the league’s most formidable teams. The Lynx finished second overall on the strength of its twin MVPs, Tuukka Rask, who led most major goaltending categories, and Alex Ovechkin, who shattered his personal best with 74 goals in 81 games. The smart money is on Rask starting all of El Dorado’s games, but Winnipeg is likely to go with a two- or even three-man platoon, so they can ride whichever goalie is hottest. Also to its credit, the Falcons got excellent offense from its top three forwards, Mike Hoffman, Elias Pettersson, and ex-Lynx vet Max Pacioretty. But El Dorado’s depth at the wing and on defense are undeniably superior. The Falcons have a monumental task ahead of them.

#2 BALTIMORE CRAB (49-29-4) vs. #3 PITTSBURGH HORNETS (40-33-9)

Regular season series
PIT won 4-2-0

Top scorers:
BAL: Scheifele (82, 28-57-85), Killorn (80, 39-35-74), Schwartz (82, 29-42-71), Burns (82, 18-51-69)
PIT: Smith (82, 41-44-85), Meier (82, 39-37-76), Malkin (60, 27-49-76), Duclair (72, 43-26-69)

Goaltenders:
BAL: Grubauer (42, 2.99, .909), Koskinen (40, 3.62, .901)
PIT: Murray (41, 3.42, .899), Mrazek (41, 3.68, .894)

It’s been half a decade since Pittsburgh made the playoffs, but standout performances by some unlikely players (newly minted 40-goal men Reilly Smith and Anthony Duclair for two) propelled them into the third seed. But they could have their work cut out from them against second place Baltimore, who also missed the playoffs last season but prior to that had made four straight appearances, including their championship year in 2016. Led by Mark Scheifele up front and Brent Burns and rookie Cale Makar on the blueline, the Crab had the league’s second most effective powerplay (24%). Although Pittsburgh’s goaltending was fairly poor during the regular season, the Hornets were notably able to outscore their problems, potting 32 goals against the Crab and winning four of six meetings.

Sawchuk Conference

#1 VANCOUVER NIGHT TRAIN (54-17-11) vs. #4 BOSTON BANSHEES (46-28-8)

Regular season series
VAN won 3-1-2

Top scorers
VAN: Lindholm (82, 42-54-96), Stone (75, 31-61-92), Barzal (82, 22-63-85), Palmieri (77, 38-35-73)
BOS: Zibanejad (67, 58-40-98), Couturier (82, 20-52-72), Boeser (68, 19-49-68), Zucker (71, 26-40-66)

Goaltenders
VAN: Jarry (39, 2.76, .915), Rittich (29, 3.28, .895), Driedger (14, 2.33, .932)
BOS: Bishop (51, 2.89, .913), Khudobin (32, 2.90, .910)

A West Virginia road tie in one of the last games of the season vaulted them over Boston, leaving Vancouver — holder of the league’s best record this season — to face the defending champion Banshees. The Night Train were a huge surprise this season after relatively few offseason changes: they allowed fewer goals than Boston this season (240 to 243) but scored nearly a hundred more (381 to 282), and held the league’s best road record, too. The X factor here will be in goal. Boston’s tandem was solid but unspectacular, but the Night Train relied on Tristan Jarry and Chris Driedger for some big wins, yet will be forced to play David Rittich at least two games out of a seven-game series. Rittich’s shakiness against Mika Zibanejad (58 goals in 67 regular season games), Ryan Ellis (62 points in 58 games from the back end), et al., could spell first-round upset.

#2 DELTA STURGEON (48-23-11) vs. #3 WEST VIRGINIA RIVER RATS (47-29-6)

Regular season series
DEL won 4-2-0

Top scorers
DEL: MacKinnon (81, 48-53-101), Kucherov (80, 35-61-96), Ekblad (80, 10-56-66), Nugent-Hopkins (75, 23-38-61)
WVR: Draisaitl (82, 44-82-126), Laine (79, 29-64-93), Aho (82, 48-35-83), Nelson (82, 27-47-74)

Goaltenders
DEL: Raanta (38, 2.32, .925), Gibson (29, 3.53, .883), Hill (15, 3.58, .895)
WVR: Francouz (33, 3.56, .901), Markstrom (27, 2.77, .918), Saros (22, 2.95, .907)

Blessed with high-end talent, great depth, a strong D, and solid goaltending… Wait, which team are we talking about? Two high-octane teams. Draisaitl vs. MacKinnon. Kucherov vs. Laine. This promises to be a hugely entertaining series, and it could go either way. While West Virginia began the season on a tear, faded, then finished strong, Delta was a relatively consistent force, and promises to be a big test for the Rats’ Jakob Markstrom/Pavel Francouz tandem. The Sturgeon managed 44.2 shots per game during the season, outshooting opponents by, on average, a whopping 12.7. At the other end, a long series would force the Sturgeon to play all three of its goalies, and John Gibson was absolutely terrible this season. It’s not a huge weakness, but it’s one on which West Virginia’s offense may be able to capitalize.

El Dorado Takes Top Spot Entering Q4

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2021 at 10:24 am

The El Dorado Lynx, led by Alex Ovechkin and his 24 goals in the schedule’s third quarter alone, have vaulted past the Vancouver Night Train to take the first overall spot in the league as the GWMHL enters its final 18 games. The Lynx went 9-1-2 at home and 8-3-1 on the road, and scored a league-best 112 goals. Ovechkin leads all goal-scorers with 56.

El Dorado sits atop the Plante Conference, well ahead of Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The third quarter did see Winnipeg turn in a solid 13-7-4 record, enough to move them just past Salem. With only two points separating them, the fight is on for that fourth and final playoff berth.

Vancouver, meanwhile, went 15-5-4 against some tough competition in the quarter, but the real news in the Sawchuk Conference is West Virginia. After a sparkling start to their season, and a middling second quarter, the Rats are fading, going 9-13-2 in Q3. Thanks to strong efforts from both Boston and Delta, West Virginia has now dropped from second place at midseason to fourth, and are just 4 points ahead of fifth-place Ice Harbor, putting their championship hopes in serious peril.

Despite that, it’s the Rats’ star forward Leon Draisaitl turning in the best individual performance of the season so far, and he’s already passed the 100-point threshold with a whole quarter left to play. Farmington’s John Carlson leads all blueliners with 67 points, while Charleston’s Dominik Kubalik has a healthy lead in the rookie scoring race with 62 points and 34 goals. El Dorado’s Tuukka Rask boasts an all-star-worthy .933 save percentage, albeit in just 30 starts. Boston’s Ben Bishop leads all goaltenders in wins (28) and shutouts (4).