Friday, December 30, 2011
1.) Looking Back- With 2011 set to ‘ring out’ and 2012 set to ‘ring in’ this weekend, the Allen Americans and Fort Wayne Komets are battling it out for the top team of 2011. The Americans enter this weekend with a 41-17-7 record over the past calendar year, good for 89 points. They are closely followed by the Komets who are 41-19-6 with 88 points. The top five is rounded out with Wichita (38-21-5, 81 points), Tulsa (36-18-7, 79 points) and Rapid City (38-23-1, 77 points). At the other end of the spectrum, the Laredo Bucks (24-36-3, 51 points) are one point behind the Arizona Sundogs (21-33-10, 52 points) for the team with the fewest points during 2011.
2.) All-Star Starters Announced- The starting line-up for the 2012 CHL All-Star Game, along with the reserves, were announced this week. Wichita defenseman Andrew Martens (currently in the AHL with Oklahoma City) led all vote-getters appearing on 35 of 53 ballots. He is joined on the blue line by Tulsa rookie Jeff Terminesi. In goal, Fort Wayne’s Nick Boucher earned the nod and the three forwards are Rapid City’s Jesse Schultz, Quad City’s Brandon Marino and Allen’s Bruce Graham. The head coach of the team is Allen’s Dwight Mullin who earned the honor by having the league’s best win percentage after the games of December 23. The game is set for Wednesday, January 11 at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona and the format will feature the host Arizona Sundogs taking on a team of CHL All-Stars.
3.) Thursday Night Rewind- In the big game on Thursday night, the Fort Wayne Komets defeated the Missouri Mavericks, 4-2, thanks to a pair of goals from Colin Chaulk and a shorthanded goal from Leo Thomas. Ryan Jardine scored twice in the losing effort for the Mavs. Fort Wayne now leads Evansville by five points for first place in the Turner Conference. The lone other match-up saw the Bloomington Blaze win just their second road game of the season by a 5-3 score over the Dayton Gems. Omar Pacha scored a hat trick and had an assist for the Blaze who are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
Inside the Numbers
1: The number of wins the Tulsa Oilers have in seven all-time match-ups in Rapid City against the Rush. The Oilers have lost five straight games in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center and this weekend, make their only visit of the 2011-12 season. Rapid City is 6-1 all-time at home against Tulsa and 10-6-0 overall including a 4-3 overtime on November 8 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. The Oilers are one of the hottest teams in the league with back-to-back wins over the two top clubs in the Berry Conference (Wichita and Allen) and in their last six games are 5-1-0. The Rush have won four straight home games and are 6-3-0 in their last nine games overall.
On the Fly
-A pair of struggling teams go head-to-head this weekend with a chance to turn things around and gain some momentum. The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (11-12-4) visit the Arizona Sundogs (9-15-4) for three straight games (Friday, Saturday and Tuesday) with both teams having trouble finding wins lately. The Sundogs are on a four-game slide and are 3-8-1 over their last 12 games. The Bees recently ended a nine-game losing streak and are just 1-6-4 in their last 11 games. RGV has a four point lead over the Sundogs in the Berry Conference standings.
-The Laredo Bucks (10-16-0) and Allen Americans (16-6-5) will become very familiar with each other over the next nine days as they will go head-to-head five times over that stretch. The two clubs will meet this weekend in Allen on Friday and Saturday and then will play in Allen next Friday and then shift scenes to Laredo for games on Saturday and Sunday leading up to the All-Star break. The Americans have won two of the three meetings so far this season.
-The two top clubs in the Turner Conference go head-to-head on Friday night when the Evansville IceMen (15-7-2) visit the Fort Wayne Komets (18-7-1) for the eighth meeting this season. The Komets have won five of the previous seven match-ups and in all but one of the seven games, the outcome has been decided by two goals or more. All-Stars Brett Smith (FTW) has four goals and seven assists versus the IceMen and Todd Robinson (EVA) has 11 helpers against the Komets. Fort Wayne leads Evansville by five points for the conference lead.
-The Dayton Gems (11-12-5) and Quad City Mallards (15-10-1) play a home-and-home series this weekend with Friday’s game in Moline, Illinois and Saturday’s New Year’s Eve tilt in Dayton. Both teams have won two of the previous four games as All-Star Brandon Marino leads all skaters with eight points (2-6=8) in those games.
-Texas All-Star goaltender Mark Guggenberger put an end to his brief three-game losing streak with a 22 save effort and 4-1 win over Laredo on Wednesday night. The rookie leads the CHL with a 2.26 GAA and is 8-3-2 on the season allowing three goals or fewer in 11 of his 14 appearances.
-Tulsa forward Dylan Clarke has stretched his rookie scoring lead over teammate Mike Ullrich to four points thanks to his recent point surge. Clarke has five goals and four assists (+5) in his last five games. Clarke has 34 points (13-21=34) on the season, while Ullrich has 16 goals (most among all rookies and tied for the overall league lead) and 14 assists.
-Fort Wayne defenseman Jamie Milam has found the scoring touch recently netting goals in three of his last six games and four of his last seven contests. His 10 goals lead all CHL d-men as does his four power play goals. The cannon shot of Milam has him already more than halfway to his defensemen leading goal total of a year ago (17) in just over a third of the games.