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El Dorado, Adirondack, West Virginia Top the League at the Halfway Mark

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2022 at 11:23 am

At the halfway mark of the 2021-22 season, El Dorado (24-13-3) leads the way in the Plante Conference, ahead of a resurgent Salem (23-14-3). Charleston put together a strong 13-5-2 quarter and leapfrogged Baltimore and Parry Sound to pull into the third spot — certainly one of the surprises of the year so far.

The Sawchuk Conference is topped by the league’s two best teams, Adirondack (32-7-1) and West Virginia (31-7-2). An 8-10-2 quarter for Vancouver, meanwhile, put them behind Farmington with both Hamilton and Ice Harbor nipping at their heels.

West Virginia’s Leon Draisaitl still leads the scoring race, with 77 points in 40 games, and also shares the league lead in goals (34) with Vancouver’s Connor Brown. Hamilton’s Tyson Barrie leads all defensemen with 46 points in 40 games, just ahead of the River Rats’ two blueline aces Jakob Chychrun and Dougie Hamilton. Tim Stutzle of Parry Sound leads all rookies with 42 points in 40 games, while Adirondack’s Kirill Kaprizov has the most goals among freshmen with 27 in 38 games — a major reason the Aces have climbed out of the basement. The Aces’ other big difference maker, Semyon Varlamov, tops the league in wins with 23 (to go along with a solid 2.65/.917 stat line), well ahead of the pack.

Adirondack Posts League’s Best Record in First Quarter

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2021 at 11:41 am

The talk of the GWMHL’s first quarter was Adirondack — after a rough 2020-21 season, the Aces surged to a league-best 16-3-1 start. Trailing just behind in the Sawchuk are two teams who were expected to be there in West Virginia (16-4-0) and Vancouver (15-4-1). Defending champ El Dorado leads the Plante with a strong 13-6-1 record, just ahead of Salem (12-7-1) and Baltimore (11-9-0).

West Virginia’s Leon Draisaitl leads all scorers with 44 points (18 goals and 26 assists) in 20 games, ahead of Ice Harbor’s Jonathan Huberdeau (37 points) and West Virginia linemate Sebastian Aho (36 points). Vancouver’s Connor Brown is the league’s unlikely goal leader at the quarter pole, lighting the lamp 22 times. Veteran Ice Harbor defenseman Kris Letang leads all blueliners in scoring, with 27 points in 20 games, while Parry Sound’s Tim Stützle sits atop this year’s rookie class with 20 points in his first 20 games.

Also of note, West Virginia’s Brian Elliott leads all goalies in wins with 16 despite a terrible .871 save percentage. Watch out for the River Rats when Juuse Saros gets his turn in net.

Season Preview: Sawchuk (part 2)

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2021 at 11:26 am

We conclude our four-part preseason preview with a look at the rest of the Sawchuk Conference. Missed the rest? Here they are: Plante part 1 and part 2; Sawchuk part 1.

Ice Harbor Storm

Last season: 42-37-3 (missed playoffs)

Draft picks: G Spencer Knight (9), F Dylan Cozens (12), F Arthur Kaliyev (34), D Wyatt Kalynuk (78)

Notable additions: F Trevor Moore, F Victor Rask, F Sam Carrick

Notable subtractions: F Boone Jenner, F Nazem Kadri, F Kyle Turris, F Justin Williams, D Calvin De Haan, G Malcolm Subban

Analysis: Ice Harbor’s excellent depth up front — led by Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, with Alex DeBrincat, Matthew Tkachuk, Brayden Schenn, Blake Wheeler, and Sam Reinhart filling in the ranks — helped to absorb the fairly heavy losses of Nazem Kadri and Boone Jenner in the expansion draft. The team has yet to address its glut of righthanded defensemen, however, which puts perhaps unfair pressure on lefties Nick Leddy and Mike Matheson, and the team made waves by drafting Spencer Knight, which many saw as a vote of non-confidence in Carter Hart. Knight is a season away, and the team is hoping to shelter Hart with Jonathan Bernier and Linus Ullmark. The gambit could pay off. On paper, this is a playoff-caliber team — but that was true last season as well.

Player to watch: The Storm have a pretty good defensive group, but only one dynamic offensive presence in the form of Kris Letang. The Storm’s fortunes have often risen and fallen with Letang’s health. If he can play most of the season, it bodes well.

Outlook: Playoffs

Portland WinterHawks

Last season: 20-46-16 (missed playoffs)

Draft picks: F Yegor Sharangovich (5), D Mikey Anderson (25), G Vitek Vanecek (47), D Jacob Bryson (69)

Notable additions: F Ryan Hartman, F Alexander Barabanov

Notable subtractions: F Blake Lizotte, F Jake Virtanen, D Matt Niskanen, D Brent Seabrook, G Jaroslav Halak

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Season Preview: Sawchuk (part 1)

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2021 at 11:06 am

We now turn our attention to the 11 teams in the Sawchuk Conference. Whose turn is it to rise out of the basement to contend for the cup? If you missed them, read the previews for Plante (part 1) and Plante (part 2).

Adirondack Aces

Last season: 22-53-7 (missed playoffs)

Draft picks: F Kirill Kaprizov (1), D Alexander Romanov (23), D Alexandre Carrier (45), F Wade Allison (67)

Notable additions: F Drew O’Connor, D Gustav Forsling

Notable subtractions: F Alexander Kerfoot, F Marcus Sorensen, D Dennis Cholowski, D Danny DeKeyser, D Ron Hainsey, G Devan Dubnyk

Analysis: One year after a 46-25-11 season, the Aces totally collapsed and finished with the league’s worst record. It almost defies explanation. It seems likely, then, that a rebound is on the way. For one thing, first overall pick Kirill Kaprizov is poised to step right into the top of the lineup and make an immediate impact. For another, they didn’t lose much in expansion and also managed to grab Gustav Forsling in free agency to shore up the D. Assuming Patrice Bergeron still has gas in the tank (spoiler: he does) and Roope Hintz can stay mostly healthy, they also have a formidable group down the middle, with William Karlsson and Sean Monahan in the bottom six. On paper, this team should be playoff-bound, but considering last season’s woes, calling them a bubble team is the safer bet.

Player to watch: An exceptional year from Semyon Varlamov could be enough to get Adirondack back in the postseason conversation.

Outlook: Bubble

Boston Banshees

Last season: 46-28-8 (lost in 1st round)

Draft picks: G Ilya Sorokin (17), F Michael Bunting (39), D Logan Stanley (56), F Jonah Gadjovich (70), D Niko Mikkola (82), G Stuart Skinner (83)

Notable additions: F Filip Chytil, F Robert Thomas, F Nicolas Roy, G Matt Murray

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Season Preview: Plante (part 2)

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2021 at 12:56 pm

For the second of our four season previews, we take a look at the second half of the Plante Conference as we get ready to begin our 2021-22 season. Read part 1 here.

Parry Sound Orrsmen

Last season: 24-52-6 (missed playoffs)

Draft picks: F Tim Stützle (4), Vitali Kravtsov (24), D Cal Foote (46), F Alexander Chmelevski (68), G Dan Vladar (79)

Notable additions: F Ivan Barbashev, F Kyle Okposo, F Rem Pitlick, D Brian Dumoulin, D Haydn Fleury

Notable subtractions: F Miles Wood, F Nick Paul, F Brendan Lemieux, F Nicholas Merkley, D Kevin Shattenkirk, D Patrik Nemeth, D Christian Djoos

Analysis: The fall and rise and fall of the Parry Sound Orrsmen is unlike anything else in GWMHL history, from the bad years that yielded Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews in consecutive drafts, to the contending years as Matthews and McDavid became dominant superstars, and now here we are again. The wheels fell off the Parry Sound wagon last season, as they finished with the conference’s worst record and allowed 382 goals, by far the most in the league. With a goaltending tandem of Thomas Greiss and Martin Jones, things might not get that much better this season. The addition of fourth overall pick Tim Stützle should add a nice dimension to the forward core of McDavid, Matthews and David Pastrnak, yet the team will also be without Alexander Radulov for the majority of the season. Expect another rough year.

Player to watch: The slow decline of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s play of late has also hurt the Orrsmen’s chances. The team will need someone else to step up if he can’t play like a #1 — can it be Justin Faulk?

Outlook: Rebuilding

Pittsburgh Hornets

Last season: 40-33-9 (lost in 2nd round)

Draft picks: G Jeremy Swayman (16), F Ty Dellandrea (38), D Zac Jones (60)

Notable additions: F Sam Gagner, G Anton Khudobin, G Ville Husso

Notable subtractions: F Nick Bonino, F Vinnie Hinostroza, F Brett Connolly, D Brady Skjei, D Travis Hamonic, G Matt Murray

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Season Preview: Plante (part 1)

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2021 at 12:15 pm

The 2021-22 GWMHL season is about to begin. Here’s the first of four previews looking at the state of the league’s 22 teams ahead of what promises to be another great season.

Baltimore Crab

Last season: 49-29-4 (lost in 1st round)

Draft picks: F Joe Veleno (19), D Ian Mitchell (41), G Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (58), D Dylan Coghlan (84)

Notable additions: F Derrick Brassard, F Colin Blackwell, D Lucas Carlsson

Notable subtractions: F Vladimir Tarasenko, F Tyler Johnson, F Victor Rask, F Josh Archibald, D Hampus Lindholm

Analysis: In 2020-21, the Crab bounced back from a sub-.500 season to post a very good record, although it didn’t ultimately translate into a long playoff drive. And while Sidney Crosby isn’t getting any younger, he forms–along with Mark Scheifele–one of the league’s top one-two punches at centre. Overall, the Crab’s forward depth isn’t what it once was, but the blueline is a solid mix of high-flying offense-first guys and stay-at-home defensemen, and Philipp Grubauer can be a high-end starter. That means the Crab will again be in the playoff mix, with a chance of breaking into the second round.

Player to watch: The emergence of Cale Makar — and the 2020 lottery luck that allowed the Crab to get him — changed the face of the team, as he’s taken the baton from Brent Burns as the team’s offensive engine from the back end. Makar played a big part in the team’s turnaround.

Outlook: Playoffs

Charleston Chiefs

Last season: 35-38-9 (missed playoffs)

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Kaprizov Headlines 2021 Rookie Draft

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2021 at 5:57 pm

The Adirondack Aces finally found the silver lining to their nightmare season, drafting dynamic winger Kirill Kaprizov with their first overall pick in the 2021 GWMHL Rookie Draft.

Otherwise, it was a relatively quiet day, with no real blockbuster trades, although the Delta Sturgeon flipped its 2022 first rounder for El Dorado’s first this year and grabbed goaltender Jake Oettinger with the pick.

Oettinger was one of four netminders to be picked in the first round, as Ice Harbor took Spencer Knight at 9th, Pittsburgh took Jeremy Swayman at 16th and Boston took Ilya Sorokin at 17th.

After Kaprizov, probably the consensus first overall, the draft saw Alexis Lafreniere go to Farmington at 2nd, Cole Caufield go to Hamilton at 3rd, and Tim Stutzle land in Parry Sound at 4th.

See the complete results of the 2021 GWMHL Rookie Draft here.

Night Train Add Veteran Stastny

In Uncategorized on September 11, 2021 at 1:09 pm

It’s been a relatively quiet offseason, but with the 2021 Rookie Draft now only weeks away, the action is about to heat up. The Vancouver Night Train made their first pre-draft move of the year, acquiring veteran centre Paul Stastny from the expansion Clarington Coyotes, along with a fourth round pick, for their second rounder, 43rd overall.

Stastny, who scored 35 goals for the Farmington Fighting Saints last season, was one of the best offensive performers to be picked in the expansion draft. The veteran is likely in the twilight of his career, but the Night Train hope he can settle into a third line role or possibly play on a second line with Mat Barzal to shelter him from faceoff duties. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have no shortage of experience up front and need to build a solid prospect pool around them.

South Side Adds Carlo to Blueline

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2021 at 2:37 pm

The Boston Banshees and South Side Renegades broke the silence of a slow off-season trade period, agreeing to a deal that will send defenseman Brandon Carlo to South Side in exchange for Filip Chytil and a 4th round pick in the 2021 rookie draft.

Carlo, a former 13th overall pick, has 252 games under his belt as a regular defensive defenseman for the Banshees. He notched 14 points in 78 games for Boston in 2020-21. Chytil, who was drafted 16th overall in 2018, never found his stride for the Renegades, and has 22 points in 102 career games.

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.

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