Monday, February 27, 2012
1.) Conference Leaders Clash, Part 2- For the second time in a week, the two top teams in the CHL go head-to-head as the Berry Conference leading Wichita Thunder (36-15-2) travel to play the Turner Conference leading Evansville IceMen (36-13-4) at the Ford Center. The IceMen have a two point lead over the Thunder for the top point total in the CHL. Last Friday, the two teams battled with the IceMen winning 4-3. Wichita scored the first two goals with Evansville rebounding with four straight goals before claiming the victory. This week, the teams meet on Wednesday and Friday with Evansville looking to extend their league-best 10-game win streak. Wichita is coming off back-to-back wins over Missouri and are 11-3-0 in their last 14 games and with one point (or a loss by Rio Grande Valley) can become the first team to claim a playoff spot. Evansville’s Todd Robinson maintains his league lead with 78 points (seven more than Quad City’s Brandon Marino) and is on a 14-game point streak, tied for the longest in the league this season.
2.) Still Hope for Bucks- Don’t count the Laredo Bucks (22-29-1) out just yet. After three straight wins, including two against the Allen Americans (29-14-9), the Bucks are now just nine points behind the fourth place Tulsa Oilers in the Berry Conference playoff hunt. The Bucks are six points behind the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (22-25-7) and they go head-to-head with the Bees on Tuesday night in RGV. Laredo has won four of their last five games scoring 20 goals over that span. The Bucks and Bees play each other five more times this season. Forwards Ryan Sparling, Matt Boyd and Erik Boisvert have carried the offensive load with eight goals and 10 assists with a combined +20 plus/minus rating. Ryan Rondeau has been in net for all three wins stopping 91 of 95 shots (.958 save percentage).
3.) Historic Sunday for Oilers- Both Steve Enlow and Tyler Fleck are slated to reach historic milestones on Sunday when the Tulsa Oilers play at the Texas Brahmas. Spending more than four decades in professional hockey, the Oilers equipment manager Enlow is set to work in his 2,000th game. In 2010, Enlow was awarded the Willis of Texas/N. Thomas Berry Commitment Cup and he has twice been asked to participate in a CHL All-Star Game. Enlow has been with the Oilers for the last 18 seasons and in 2006 was named the CHL Equipment Manager of the Year. For defenseman Fleck, he is slated to become just the fifth CHL player to play in 700 professional games as he enters play on Friday night with 697 career games.
Inside the Numbers
12 – The number of consecutive games the Rapid City Rush have won against the Arizona Sundogs including all four meetings this season. The Sundogs have not beaten the Rush since December 15, 2010. The two teams will square-off on Tuesday and Wednesday in Arizona. This season, the Rush have outscored the Sundogs 21-6 with all four meetings played in South Dakota. The game will also mark the debut for new Sundogs Head Coach David Lohrei (two-time CHL Coach of the Year) who replaced Marco Pietroniro on Monday when he was relieved of his duties.
On the Fly
-Tulsa defenseman Tyler Fleck played in his 700th CHL game on Sunday in his team’s loss at Texas. Fleck becomes just the fifth player to play in 700 or more CHL games. In that same game, Tulsa Equipment Manager Steve Enlow worked his 2,000th game. Congrats to both Fleck and Enlow!
-Texas forward Chad Woollard continue to climb the CHL’s goal scoring list moving into 10th place, passing Chris Richards, with his goal in Sunday’s win over Tulsa. The goal was also Woollard’s 200th as a member of the Brahmas and he now sits just one goal behind Chris George for 9th place on the league’s all-time list and two goals behind Sylvain Naud for eighth place. Woollard leads the Brahmas with 22 goals and 52 points.
-With Friday’s win at home over Quad City, Joe Ferras passed Garry Unger moving into sixth place on the league’s all-time wins list with 293 victories. The Rapid City Rush Head Coach is seven wins shy of becoming the sixth coach to win 300 games in the CHL.
-After scoring just once in his previous seven games, Quad City forward Brandon Marino erupted for a hat trick in the Flock’s 6-5 shootout win over the Rapid City Rush on Saturday night. Marino is now tied with Evansville’s Brian Bicek for the league lead with 32 scores.
-The Allen Americans have dropped three straight games (0-2-1) for just the third time in the franchise’s three-year history and are just one loss shy of matching their all-time longest losing streak of four straight games set last February (0-3-1). The Americans have gone 3-7-2 since their MVP candidate and All-Star Bruce Graham went on the injured reserve. Allen next plays on Friday night at Laredo.
-Fort Wayne defenseman Frankie DeAngelis netted his first professional hat trick on Friday night in the Komets 5-4 shootout win over Arizona. DeAngelis has scored six times in his last seven games and his 16 goals are second to teammate Jamie Milam (17) for goals among d-men.
-Dan Dunn is the fifth goaltender to dress in a game for the Dayton Gems this season but he has been impressive in making a first impression. Dunn is 2-0-1 in his three starts with the Gems stopping 115 of 121 shots (.950 save percentage). Dayton is the fourth team that Dunn has played on this season (Allen, Evansville and Rio Grande Valley).
-Bloomington’s Vladimir Nikiforov has scored at least a point in nine of his last 11 games and has regained the team lead in points with 42 (16-26=42). The forward had a goal and two assists, with a +2 plus/minus rating, during his team’s three-game trip to South Texas.
-Wichita has been lights out in the third period this season holding an amazing +30 advantage over their opponents in the final 20 minutes. The second best club is Quad City at +19 (71-52). The Thunder have scored 75 times in the third period this season while allowing 45 goals. The Thunder have trailed heading into the third period 15 times but have come back to win six of those games (tops in the league).