CHL Headlines for Monday, March 21
Catching Stride at the Right Time
The Colorado Eagles appear to be primed and ready for the post-season winning four straight games and posting a 10-3-1 mark in their last 14 contests. The Eagles are in first place in the Turner Conference by a slim two points over the Rapid City Rush with a pair of games in Fort Wayne awaiting them this weekend (the Rush play a pair of games in Arizona). Colorado’s Kevin Ulanski has been the catalyst to their offense lately scoring six goals in their last three games including a third period hat trick on Saturday versus Arizona. Ulanski has climbed all the way up to third in the league in scoring with 93 points (34-59=93) and on Monday was named the Oakley CHL Player of the Week for the second time this season. Goaltender Kyle Jones is tied for the league-lead in wins with 28 and he has been in net for all four games during their current win streak. The candidate for the CHL’s Most Outstanding Goaltender Award had back-to-back shutouts last week and had a scoreless minute streak of 164:37 before Jason Visser scored on a penalty shot on Saturday.
Three Way Race for Second
The Berry Conference may not have much of a race for the top spot as the Allen Americans have already clinched the conference and the CHL’s Governors’ Cup but the battle for second place looks like it will go down to the wire. The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs have picked it up lately and currently sit in second with 75 points. Both the Tulsa Oilers and Texas Brahmas have 71 points sitting tied for third place. The ‘Bugs are the hottest of the three teams going 8-2-0 in their last 10 games, while Texas is the coldest going 5-9-0 over their last 14 games. The Oilers have been very consistent going 8-3-3 in their last 14 games. How things shake out will determine opponents in the Opening Round of the playoffs as the Odessa Jackalopes, Mississippi RiverKings and Arizona Sundogs currently sit five through seven, respectively.
Killer Bees and Bucks Fight for #8
The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees and the Laredo Bucks enter the final week of the regular season in a fight for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Berry Conference. The Bees hold a narrow two point lead over the Bucks but both teams are limping to the finish line losing each of their last three games. The Bees host three straight games to finish the season with Odessa visiting Tuesday, Missouri visiting Friday and Texas closing out the Killer Bees regular season slate on Saturday. For the Bucks, they play Friday, Saturday and Sunday visiting Texas first and then returning home to play Missouri and Texas again. One regulation win for RGV coupled with a regulation loss for Laredo will clinch a playoff berth for the Bees and end the Bucks run of eight straight playoff appearances (Laredo has never failed to qualify for the post-season).
By the Numbers
7- The league-leading number of shutouts that Missouri goaltender Robby Nolan has after Sunday’s 22-save effort in the Mavs 7-0 victory over Mississippi. Nolan lowered his league-best GAA to 2.05 and upped his save percentage to .928. The seven shutouts in a single season are the most since Bossier-Shreveport’s John DeCaro set the single season record with 11 shutouts during the 2007-08 season.
105- The league-leading number of points that Odessa’s Sebastien Thinel has scored this year appearing to be on his way to winning his second Joe Burton Award (regular season scoring champion) in the past three seasons. Thinel has 34 goals and 71 assists this season and 299 points over the last three seasons. Thinel had his season-long 17-game point streak come to an end on Saturday (a 3-2 overtime win over Tulsa).
12- The number of overtime/shootout losses the Evansville IceMen have this season sitting just two shy of the CHL record of 14 (Austin and Alexandria). The IceMen had a 4-1 lead on Saturday versus Fort Wayne but eventually fell in a shootout by a final of 5-4 marking their 12th OT/SO loss.
44- The league-leading number of goals scored by Texas forward Chad Woollard, who scored twice last week and has five points in his last three games (2-3=5). His 44 scores are two behind his career high of 44 scored while a member of the Quad City Mallards (UHL) in the 2005-06 season. Woollard has scored 82 goals (25 PPG’s and 12 GWG’s) over his last two CHL seasons (118 games).
5- The number of American Hockey League teams that Quad City goaltender David Brown has had a chance with this season after being called-up by the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday. Brown, the finalist for the CHL’s Most Outstanding Goaltender Award, has also been used by Chicago, Houston, Toronto and Texas.
-The All-CHL Team was announced on Monday with Colorado’s Riley Nelson, Odessa’s Sebastien Thinel, Texas’ Chad Woollard, RGV’s Darcy Campbell, Wichita’s Andrew Martens and Missouri’s Robby Nolan all making the team.
-The Mississippi RiverKings enjoyed something heading into Sunday’s game in Missouri they had not enjoyed all season, a three-game win streak. Mississippi stepped up to the plate in their pair of games versus the Texas Brahmas on Friday/Saturday beating the team they may face in the Opening Round of the playoffs both times. Goaltender Alexander Pechurskiy won all three of the ‘Kings victories on their recent streak and is 17-12-2 on the season.
-Odessa’s Todd Robinson has been the ultimate set-up man lately recording 23 assists in his last 11 games. Robinson is second to teammate Sebastien Thinel in scoring with 95 points (27-68=95) and has been doing most of his damage lately by passing the puck. Robinson has five games with three assists and eight games with multiple-assists over his 11-game tear.
-Missouri’s recent addition Andrew Courtney had just one helper in his first five games with the team but on Sunday he netted his first professional goal and tacked on two more for his first professional hat trick. Courtney was signed a couple weeks ago after playing at the University of Lethbridge.