We're just over a third of the way through the IceHL season. Here's how things stand.
Last week, they earned their first victory after attempting a new strategy. This week, the Cavalry shattered their previous season high point total as they crushed the Scorpions 83-45. Once again, Calgary relied on Bobby Robins and Brett Gallant for a combined 47 points — all from the PIM column. Eric Tangradi tacked on another 11 penalty minutes along with a goal and 2 assists for 21 points.
Salt Lake City was above average this week as forwards Brayden Schenn and Nazem Kadri teamed up for 28 points on 3 goals and 4 assists. Curtis McElhinney continued his unbelievable hot streak with another pair of wins this week. On Sunday, Scorpions GM Kyle Grossman tweeted, "Hard to win when [Calgary] puts up 36 PIM through Saturday." He added hashtags #Buzzkill and #GoonHockey.
Two IceHL WEST powerhouses squared off in Week 8 but saw only below-average points. The Aviators (5-2) defeated the Wave (5-2) by a 33-27 score. Despite the win, Seattle tallied no goals this week. Blue-liner Matt Donovan led the club in scoring with an assist and 6 PIMs for 9 points. Meanwhile, California got much-needed production from Oliver Ekman-Larsson after a quiet week. He was the only Wave player in double digits.
Momentum is building for the Sharpshooters who shot down the Hellcats 65-51. For the first time, Saskatoon saw four players in double-digit points. Jeff Taffe and Chris Bourque had 30 points together on 8 assists. And Niklas Svedberg, the new addition between the pipes, picked up 2 wins for 12 points. Houston leaned on penalty minutes this week and Alexandre Bolduc and Ryan Stanton combined for 27. Goalie David Leggio has now put together back-to-back 0-point weeks after a strong start to the year.
After being handed their first loss of the season, the Winterhawks rallied in Week 8 to edge the Huskies 36-33. Brett Connolly had 2 goals, 1 assist and 4 PIMs for 15 points for Winnipeg while Jonathan Audy-Marchessault was Alaska's star, grabbing a goal and 3 assists for 13 points.
The Pioneers demonstrated their strength with a 41-31 win over the Kodiaks. Cam Atkinson had 3 goals and 2 assists for 18 points to power Portland. Only Cade Fairchild failed to make his mark on the scoresheet. At the same time, the goaltending woes continue for Edmonton as Petr Mrazek also put up a goose egg. The Kodiaks have just a single goalie win in eight weeks.
Elsewhere, the Narwhals extended the Gators' losing streak to six games with a close 43-41 win. The Outlaws were one of a handful of teams to get points from their entire roster this week as they clobbered the Renegades 46-22. And the Beasts rode a 49-36 victory over the Lumberjacks back to .500 this week.
Now, the other league...
The big story of the IceHL EAST this week has got to be how the fast descent of one team happens to be coinciding with the slow rise of another. It was demonstrated rather poetically as the Motorheads defeated the Lagers 42-32 in Week 8. After an 0-4 start, Detroit started to turn things around with back-to-back wins. And they only lost last week by a tie-breaker. Chris Bourque and Jason DeSantis combined for 29 points this week as every skater had something to contribute.
It was a different story for Milwaukee. Three goose eggs graced their scoresheet this week as Drayson Bowman did all of the heavy lifting with 2 goals, 1 assist and 7 PIMs for 18 points. As the AHL's Charlotte Checkers have cooled, so have the reliant Lagers. Meanwhile, Mikael Granlund returned from his injury this week but has yet to make a mark.
The defending champion Nighthawks are pushing their way back to the top, dealing the top-ranked Barracudas their second loss of the year by a score of 48-36. Jordan Eberle and Brendan Smith each put up 11 points as goalie Niklas Svedberg led the way with 12 points on 2 wins. For Tampa Bay, almost every skater contributed a goal and an assist, but all were below 10 points while netminder Dustin Tokarski's struggles continue.
The Guardians continued to quietly climb the standings with a 40-23 win over the Blue Crabs. Martin St. Pierre chipped in with 13 points on a goal, an assist and 6 penalty minutes while backstop Curtis McElhinney nabbed a pair of wins for 12 points. Baltimore, meanwhile, was just surprisingly quiet this week. The team saw minimal points this week except for defenseman Slava Voynov, who was above his season average with 9 points.
The Armada edged the Mariners, 31-29, to pull in line with the Barracudas at 6-2 on the year. Nazem Kadri and Kevin Connauton combined for the lion's share of Quebec's points this week with 22. Meanwhile, Radko Gudas led Hartford with 11 points — all penalty minutes.
Two struggling teams finished the week just a point apart. Nino Niederreiter led the Steelcats to a 31-30 win over the Sentinels. Niederreiter had a goal and 3 assists toward 17 points while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was out of action all week. For Washington, Mike Sgarbossa and Jake Gardiner teamed up for 28 points.
Elsewhere, the Hitmen stung the Olympiques 34-26 on a 12-point effort from Tomas Tatar. The Archers beat the Arsenal 46-35 thanks to Cam Atkinson's heroics. And the struggling Mammoths lost another one in spite of impressive points from Roman Horak as the Colonials claimed victory, 52-40, led by hot forwards.
This week may not have had the big shockers of Week 7, but it was certainly interesting to watch it all unfold this week. Here's to more excitement in Week 9!