Hey there, it's Tony P. from the Sharpshooters. Enjoying the season so far?
I'd like to welcome you to the first season recap so far of the Sharpshooters.
I plan on doing these at juncture marks in the season, about every 6-8 weeks, to give you an inside perspective on the season so far.
This post covers everything that happened to the team from the Draft to Week 7.
With our draft, we focused on blending areas that would be looked at. So we drafted these players, based on their stats from last season.
Chris Bourque: 27 G, 66 A, 42 PIM
Matt Fraser: 37 G, 18 A, 45 PIM
Emerson Etem: 62 G, 46 A, 36 PIM
Radko Gudas: 7 G, 13 A, 195 PIM
Danny Syvret: 7 G, 35 A, 24 PIM
Danny Taylor: 43 GP, 22 W, 5 SO
The inital vision was relatively simple.
- Fraser and the untested Etem were counted on for goals. Fraser's stats looked nice. Etem, while a wild card, showed he had potential with Medicine Hat.
- Bourque and Syvret were our main assist machines. Bourque had the potential for goals, but 66 assists was massive. Same with the 35 that Syvret, a defenseman, scored.
- Gudas was the PIM man, seeing as he outgained the roster in PIM just by himself.
- Taylor just needed to win. He was what was left.
Week 1: Hellraising Huskies
Playing against the Alaska Huskies was the moment I'd been waiting for. It was the start of the season, and the preseason game looked good for us. There was optimism that things were going well.
And then the week happened. Notably, I didn't have a great opportunity to check stats until the end of the week, and I was still positive things worked out well. Until I found out our team was the only team who failed to break double digits. We were crushed by 50 points.
My strategy partially imploded. The assists worked, as Bourque and Syvret scored 3 assists combined. But that was it. Etem went MIA, Gudas was scratched all week, Fraser faltered in Texas and Taylor added nothing to the pot after losing a game in an SO.
Changes were made swiftly, with Etem and Gudas leaving in favor of Ondrej Palat and Sami Vatanen. Palat had been scoring quite well and Vatanen, like Etem, was a chance I wanted to take in a lesser role.
Week 2: Vancouver Vexation
Much different than Week 1, as we actually were in it up until the end of the week. The most-improved team in the IceHL that week was the Sharpshooters, but we still fell short to the Lumberjacks, 47-38.
Bourque's 10 points were great. So were Syvret's 9. Taylor had gotten a win for 6. Palat's 5 points were slightly disappointing, but he showed promise by putting points in assists and PIMs. Vatanen's 4 would usually not be heralded well, but it was a goal, so it was worth a smile. Fraser's only goal would be the only goal he would score for us, as Chris Conner was brought in. Syvret, while reliable, was dumped in favor of Marco Scandella, a risky trigger move.
Week 3: Dallas Destruction
Ouch. Week 1 returned in style, with the Sharpshooters getting eviscerated by the Outlaws, 42-19. Strong weeks from the Outlaws' Sean Couturier and Keith Aucoin did us in, with the duo racking up 31 points.
Where'd we go wrong this time?
Bourque? Nope, give him another 10 points this week. Vatanen? Nope, with 6 points, he improved from the previous week. Palat? Well, he dipped a little, but gave us the rest of the offense for the week. Chris Conner, our newest acquisition had a short week with only one game. Annoying, but not his fault. Scandella? SCRATCHED THE WEEK. Trigger move failed. Taylor? No wins again. Let's find someone else.
Scandella was dropped for Steve McCarthy. Putting in claims for a pair of netminders was a failure. We were stuck with Danny Taylor.
Week 4: Pioneer Punch-Out
Another week led to a close competition against the Pioneers that led us to feel good about the week. We were tied going into the final night.
And then Cam Atkinson happened. OUCH. On the strength of 17 points from 5 assists and 2 PIM, Saskatoon fell once again by 9 points, this time to the Pioneers.
Shortfalls? Let's see.
Bourque? Somewhat of a lame week, with only 4 points. Palat? A solid 11 this week. Conner? 9 points, getting great action. Vatanen? 2 PIM. Rough, but let's see if he bounces back. McCarthy? 2 PIM and scratches. Taylor? A shutout win gets us 10! Maybe it was a good thing we ended up keeping him.
We decided on one transaction. McCarthy left. Gudas returned after putting up nice numbers for nobody. Would he bring them back to us next week against the defending champions in Boulder?
Week 5: Boulder Beatdown
And finally, a week that was very good to us happened. Interestingly, I've always considered 5 my lucky number. But seeing as we were going against the defending champions, my hopes were muted.
Until the end of the week when the team emerged...victorious!?
Conner? SCRATCHED. Taylor? DIDN'T PLAY. Those two facts alone would have usually been enough to knock me down. But Bourque had a goal, two assists and 6 PIMs for 16! Gudas nearly mirrored that line, just adding a PIM. 17 points in Gudas' return. Palat also added a goal and an assist for 7 points. Vatanen also chipped two assists for 6 points. Those 4 players gave us 46 points. The Beasts had an entire roster contributing, with Yann Danis getting 12 points as their leading scorer. No other Beast broke double digits.
It was enough to lift us out of our slump and give newfound life to the Sharpshooters. Conner would also leave the team due to wildly inconsistent play.
Week 6: Cavalry Crusher
Calgary was next, and sadly, they sported an 0-5 record. We had been in the same winless boat as them up until Week 5. We always like to see each team win, so we weren't going to be heartbroken if we lost.
That said, Saskatoon did put up their most dominant performance to date, having solid performances from most everyone.
Palat's 2 assists and 4 PIM gave him 10 points. Taylor also earned 10 points for a shutout goaltending win. Vatanen was the star of the week for Saskatoon, getting a goal and 12 PIMs for 16 points. Bourque and new acquisition Jeff Taffe each scored two assists. Finally, Gudas rounded off the week with 4 PIMs.
Calgary's tough week was marred by inconsistency by Roman Horak and Jake Gardiner. Their week was harsh, as they could have basically gone against any team (except Portland) and lost the week.
Week 7: Narwhal Knockout
Another close matchup, this one had me gritting my teeth until the final day. Taylor fell flat for a 4th week, seemingly a theme for him: a great week, followed by a non-existent one. Talk about frustrating.
Competition up to the final day only had us leading by one point.
Then, the final day happened.
Unfortunately, the team just couldn't stay in it, and the Narwhals took down the Sharpshooters thanks to the powers of Carter Hutton. While I'm not a fan of pinning wins or losses on certain players, Danny Taylor is about to take the fall for Saskatoon's 5th loss in 7 weeks. Given he's had relevance in 3 weeks, but only one of them was a win, it's time for someone new.
Dropping to 2-5 is certainly far from what we predicted to start the year, but the battle is just beginning.