Salem Surges, Baltimore Stumbles in Q1

In News on November 13, 2018 at 1:29 pm

The 2018-19 GWMHL season is now underway, and the first 20 games are in the books. The Salem Sabercats are off to a roaring start (16-2-2) and sit atop the league-wide standings, followed closely by the Parry Sound Orrsmen (14-4-2). Perhaps most surprisingly, both Baltimore (7-11-2) and Hamilton (5-14-1) have struggled out of the gate.

But the big story is definitely Salem, who have both scored the most and allowed the fewest goals after 20. The Cats went a stellar 9-0-1 on the road, and their preseason acquisition of Anze Kopitar is paying big dividends, as he leads all scorers with 36 points. A word of caution, though: Salem absolutely pummeled rebuilding Great Lakes and South Side and the defending champs should get a much better test in the second quarter.

Also of note, Farmington rearguard John Carlson‘s 24 points, good enough to lead all defensemen and help propel his team to a strong 11-6-3 start. Meanwhile, Vancouver‘s Mat Barzal jumped out to a narrow lead in the rookie scoring race with 18 points while running the league’s best-producing powerplay (25.4%).


[Press Release] Delta Looks Ahead to 2018-19

In DEL on October 21, 2018 at 11:32 am


The Delta Sturgeon have finalized their playing roster for the 2018-2019 Gump Worsley Memorial Hockey League season. As always, there were some surprises when the final cuts came in.

Final cuts for the Sturgeon included Tyler Motte, Jordan Schmaltz, Kris Versteeg, and in a suprise Scott Hartnell.

“I really thought I added enough grit to this club that I would be playing another season for the Sturgeon. Unfortunately, Management seems to have moved in a different direction here. I am going to keep working out and hope that I get picked up by another team during the season”.

Scott Hartnell was a pivotal member of the club’s 3rd line the last two seasons, but it seems like the club is trying to get faster on the wings, and there simply was no room for both him and Kyle Okposo as the ‘slower more physical players’. On top of that, the offseason acquisition of superb 2-way forward Jonathan Toews was bound to make one of the veterans expendable. One surprise is that the Sturgeon will enter the season with 10 defensemen on the active roster. That will require some juggling by the coaching staff to get everyone some ice time.

Speaking with Coach Martin after the pre-season camp on lineups.

“We have a lot of interesting combinations we can deploy thanks to the acquisition of Chara and Toews. Chara can play against the top offensive players in the league, and we’ll start off with him and Ekblad in a shutdown role. However, his defensive ability will allow us to pair him with anyone to create a solid defensive pair. As they gelled well defensively, it’s looking like Jake Muzzin and Colton Parayko will be a good puck moving pair who are also solid defensively. Everyone else, including long time Sturgeon Alex Goligoski will be fighting for icetime and they need to prove that they should be in the lineup.

For forwards, the addition of Jonathan Toews really adds some options, and we tried some combos in practice. We’ll start off with Toews on a line with Evander Kane and Nikita Kucherov. Thier blended skills should work well together. While this means that Nathan Mackinnon will not be playing with Kucherov at even strength, they still will be on the top PP unit. Hopefully this works out as we stretch more scoring through the lineup versus being top heavy on the first two lines. Derek Stepan, will anchor the 4th line. He’s not happy about the ice time reduction he is going to see, but the fact of the matter is that he has been outplayed in camp, and the trio of Toews, Staal, Mackinnon deserve that ice time. Hopefully he is up for the challenge of providing some pop with limited ice time and helping kill penalties.”

Projected lines for the Sturgeon

E.Kane – Toews – Kucherov
T. Hall – Staal – Okposo
Nugent-Hopkins – Mackinnon – Gallagher
Jarnkrok – Stepan – Rick Nash

Chara   – Ekblad
Muzzin  – Parayko
Hamhuis – Martinez

Recapping Our 2018-19 Season Previews

In Special Features on October 12, 2018 at 9:29 am

Our four-part season preview is complete! Catch up here:
Plante East
Plante West
Sawchuk East
Sawchuk West

And here’s a recap, and a ranking, of where these teams could be headed in 2018-19.

But first, a note: When we began compiling these previews, we were absolutely determined to keep science out of it. (If you want science, here’s your freaking Martin Ratings already.) The, ahem, evidence for this is clear: we’ve chosen too many playoff teams in each conference! Chalk it up to wanting to keep the hope alive.

1. Parry Sound – Contender
2. Baltimore – Contender
3. Salem – Contender
4. El Dorado – Playoffs
5. Pittsburgh – Playoffs
6. Winnipeg – Bubble
7. Charleston – Rebuilding
8. South Side – Rebuilding
9. Great Lakes – Rebuilding
10. Denver – Rebuilding

1. Delta – Contender
2. Ice Harbor – Playoffs
3. Hamilton – Playoffs
4. West Virginia – Playoffs
5. Adirondack – Playoffs
6. Boston – Bubble
7. Farmington – Bubble
8. Portland – Bubble
9. San Jose – Rebuilding
10. Vancouver – Rebuilding

An interesting trend emerges when you look at the conferences this way. In the Plante, it’s go-big-or-go-home, as it hosts three of the league’s true powerhouses, and a couple of dark horses. Nearly everyone else is full-on rebuilding. The Sawchuk is much closer (as we saw in last year’s tight playoff race), with Delta the only sure-fire contender, and Ice Harbor a near-contender. Neither even made the playoffs last year, and the next five or six slots are anybody’s guess.

Now let’s drop that puck!