As I mentioned in yesterday's mid-week update, the IceHL took some wicked twists and turns in Week 4. So the action is really starting to heat up. Let's take a look back.
The standout match of the week in the IceHL WEST, by far and away, was the one that saw the Lumberjacks knock off the red-hot Renegades 59-32. The Jacks came off their worst loss of the season, in which they earned just 6 points — the league record low. Vancouver was powered by double-digit performances from four players, including T.J. Hensick who notched a goal and 6 assists for 22 points!
The Renegades, meanwhile, suffered their first loss of the season, breaking a three-game winning streak that had kept them atop the league standings all season. With the defeat, Regina takes a big fall, going from 1st to 4th. The Renegades didn't see the kind of performances they've come to expect as no member of the team managed to score a goal this week. Interestingly, the goalies were stars on both sides of this match-up, each picking up a shutout victory.
The Scorpions made their first attempt at digging out of their 0-3 hole with a close 41-40 victory over the Gators. Travis Hamonic led the way with 2 goals, an assist and 4 penalty minutes for 15 points. Also pitching in for Salt Lake City were Nazem Kadri with a goal and two assists as well as goalie Curtis McElhinney with a shutout win. The Gators picked up 3 goals and an assist from Chris Terry, but below-average production from the rest of the team left them just out of reach of a win.
The Aviators continue to put up record points, taking a 67-30 bite out of the Huskies in Week 4. Seattle led the league in scoring this week and now holds the overall lead with 217 points. This week's big victory was due mostly to the 28 penalty minutes assessed to Kris Newbury, who also added a goal and 2 assists. Alaska got points from most of its roster this week, but no one broke double digits.
Dallas and Winnipeg continued their quiet domination of the IceHL WEST. The Outlaws edged the Kodiaks 29-25 on a goal and 4 assists from Keith Aucoin. Edmonton also got a 16-point week from Nino Niederreiter, but little else. Meanwhile, the Winterhawks beat the Cavalry 47-41 with 17 points from Marcus Foligno. Calgary saw three players grab 10 points each, but still fell to 0-4 on the year.
Elsewhere, a late-week rally killed the Sharpshooters bid for their first win as they lost to the Pioneers 47-38. The undefeated Wave were dealt their first defeat of the season at the hands of the Narwhals, 38-26. And the Beasts are back at .500 with a 40-33 victory over the Hellcats.
Now for a look at the IceHL EAST...
Three IceHL EAST teams entered Week 4 with perfect records. But only one emerged still undefeated. At least one winning streak was bound to come to an end as the Barracudas and Lagers squared off. Ultimately, it was a goal by Tomas Kundratek on the last night of the week that propelled Tampa Bay to a 41-37 win, its fourth in a row. It was a true team effort this week for the Barracudas as everyone chipped in and no one really stood out individually.
For Milwaukee, the star was Zach Boychuck with 3 goals and an assist for 15 points. And despite suffering its first defeat of the year, the Lagers got production from everyone but Mikael Granlund, who is out with an injury. But don't count this team out yet and don't let a single loss lead you to underestimate them. This team, built almost entirely on Charlotte Checkers players, is a force to be reckoned with.
The Blue Crabs set a new IceHL points record this week — coming off a team low of 13 last week — as they destroyed the undefeated Armada 82-25. Kris Newbury picked up 38 points on a goal, 2 assists and 28 penalty minutes! Chris Terry and Slava Voynov combined for another 29 points to help Baltimore to its huge win. The Armada was led by Nazem Kadri but was left with disappointing production from the rest of their roster.
A winless slump came to an end in Minnesota as the Mammoths barely beat the Arsenal 35-34. Tim Erixon led the way with 12 points as the Mammoths prepare for Week 5 under new AGM Chris Gregorio. So-so performances kept Atlanta in it for the most part this week, but weren't quite enough in the end.
Big points were put up by the Mariners as they stunned the Guardians 67-46. Every position was important this week for Hartford as blue-liner Radko Gudas led the team with 19 points on 3 assists and 10 PIMs. Jeremy Smith picked up 18 points on 3 wins (includes carryover) and Chris Mueller earned another 12. New York got above-average production but the Mariners were too hot this time around.
Continuing their march back up the standings, the defending champion Nighthawks knocked off the winless Motorheads by a score of 46-34. North Carolina is in 3rd overall after Keith Aucoin and Brendan Smith combined for 31 points! Patrick Cehlin was impressive with a goal and 4 assists but little else was clicking for Detroit.
Meanwhile, the Sentinels walloped the Colonials 50-12 on big points from Travis Hamonic. The Archers have Cam Atkinson and Richard Clune's combined 31 points to thank for just sneaking past the Hitmen 39-37. And Marcus Foligno and newcomer Alexandre Bolduc powered the Steelcats to a 49-21 win over the Olympiques. Even goalie Martin Jones contributed with a shutout win for the Cats.
Big upsets happened this week. Winning streaks ended. Losing streaks ended. And we all head in to Week 5 a little more uneasy, a little more unsure of where our teams stand. We also enter with a new rule.
Modified IR: Over the weekend, a majority of IceHL GMs/AGMs approved a new rule called Modified Injured Reserve. In a nutshell, it allows teams to conditionally drop injured players with the promise they'll have first dibs on getting them back when they return from injury.
Some teams are already taking advantage of this new rule and that will be noted late Monday when the updated rosters are posted here. These are exciting times in the IceHL!