Depending on the team, Week 7 proved to be either lucky or seriously unlucky. It's one shock after another as you look down the box scores for the latest series of IceHL match-ups. Let's dive in.
As much as it pains me, this is the biggest story in the IceHL EAST. The Barracudas' perfect record was wiped out by a single point as the Olympiques won 40-39 in Week 7. Tampa Bay suffered its first setback of the season despite a decent week from most of the roster. Tyler Johnson and Trevor Smith teamed up for 24 points while Mark Mancari failed to figure in offensively. Ultimately, the Barracudas fell just shy of prolonging their undefeated run.
Montreal was powered by Peter Holland, who scored half of the team's points this week on a goal, 4 assists and 4 penalty minutes. Taylor Hall also picked up a goal for the Olympiques who improve to a winning record for the first time this season. The team takes a three-game winning streak into Week 8.
The Guardians made a huge leap in the standings, going from 9th to 5th place, with a stunning 87-30 victory over the Hitmen. All but one player was in double digits this week and every skater made key offensive contributions. Martin St. Pierre led the way with 25 points on 4 goals and 9 PIMs. Also impressive between the pipes was Curtis McElhinney with 2 wins and a shutout. Defenseman Mark Barberio was the high scorer for Chicago with 13 points.
A tie-breaker was needed to give the Sentinels a 38-37 win over the Motorheads. Both teams saw their defense outscore their forwards but the key in this match-up was goaltending. Jeff Zatkoff grabbed 2 wins for Washington while Eddie Pasquale did the same for Detroit — only with a shutout as well. Ultimately, however, the Sentinels had more goals (2-0), and so the 37-37 tie was broken.
The Blue Crabs are inching back up the standings after defeating the Mammoths 47-22. Newcomer Richard Panik scored 3 goals toward 14 points this week as blue-liner Mike Kostka picked up 15 for Baltimore. Minnesota's struggles continued as no player earned more than 7 points despite multiple roster changes.
The defending champion Nighthawks were stunned by the Colonials 63-43. Alexandre Bolduc and Mark Borowiecki powered Boston with a combined 42 points. For North Carolina, Kyle Palmieri tallied 2 goals and 12 penalty minutes for 20 points but the blue line was silent this week.
Elsewhere, the Armada blew away the Arsenal 50-23. The Steelcats won 38-15 against the Lagers, who have been struggling after a strong start to the season. And the Mariners beat the Archers 38-35, meaning the three teams at the top of the standings last week all suffered losses this week in a big reversal of fortune.
This season is definitely keeping the GMs on their toes. Let's take a look at the West.
The IceHL WEST match-up that everyone was watching featured two teams that have been atop the league standings all season. And a week after being handed their first loss of the year, the Outlaws turned the tables on the unbeaten Winterhawks with a 57-36 victory. Dallas relied on contributions from every member of the team this week but it was goalie Braden Holtby who led the club with 12 points on 2 wins. Keith Aucoin and David Rundblad each had 11 points for the Outlaws.
For Winnipeg, underperforming players led the team to suffer its first defeat. Marcus Foligno had 2 assists and 7 PIMs for 13 points and Justin Schultz earned another 10. Otherwise, the Winterhawks were pretty quiet this week. The result of this game now means that neither conference has an undefeated team.
After weeks of struggles, the gritty Cavalry fought their way to their first win of the season, 48-39, much to the chagrin of the Kodiaks. Calgary is trying a new team philosophy which relies on players known for spending time in the box. New additions Brett Gallant and Bobby Robins lived up to those expectations in Week 7 teaming up for 26 points — all penalty minutes. Mark Barberio led Edmonton with 13 points while Nino Niederreiter had a goal, an assist and 2 PIMs for 9 points.
The surging Aviators remain among the league's elite after a 63-26 thumping of the Lumberjacks. The forwards alone accounted for 46 points with Peter Holland's 20 leading the team. Vancouver, on the other hand, saw minimal production as none of its players managed a single goal. Bracken Kearns had 2 assists and 5 penalty minutes for 11 points.
Back to their high-scoring ways, the Renegades slaughtered the Huskies 71-36. Two players topped 20 points for Regina. Martin St. Pierre earned 25 points while Mark Borowiecki's time in the box propelled him to 22 points. Alaska relied on Zack Kassian who had a goal and 11 PIMs for 15 points this week.
The rollercoaster ride that is the Pioneers was on another high note this week, knocking off the Wave by a score of 60-46. Portland is back above .500 with the win thanks to Kyle Palmieri who had 2 goals and 12 penalty minutes for 20 points. The forwards combined for 35 points. For California, Patrick Maroon's 17 points weren't enough to power his team. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Magnus Paajarvi were below expectations.
Elsewhere, the Narwhals took out the Sharpshooters 42-40 with 18 points from goalie Carter Hutton. The Scorpions stung the Beasts 38-16. And the Hellcats took a step toward digging out of their troubles with a 34-21 win over the Gators, propelled by 20 points from Alexandre Bolduc.
Lots of surprises this week. But most interesting is the fact that there are no more 0s in the IceHL standings. The unbeaten were beaten and the winless won. And a quick glance at the standings proves there's a lot of parity in both leagues. In fact, 17 of 30 teams are one win/loss away from a .500 record.
So it's been anything but boring this season!