WICHITA, Kan. – A questionable hit, lack of rampage, and the return of a league Most Valuable Player make up week four of the Tuesday Takeaways.

Let’s get after it…

Rampage Need to Go on One Soon

After 13 games played, the San Antonio Rampage own the league’s worst record at 3-10-0-0. They have scored just 26 goals for in 13 games, averaging 2.00 goals per game. Additionally, the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues was unable to capitalize on numerous conditioning stints, taking just one of those pivotal matches. Though it’s early to count a team out of the playoff race, San Antonio is making a strong case for an early elimination. They have also been taking too many penalties as of late – with five minor penalties in Saturday’s win alone. Though Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso have a combined .903 save percentage and 2.85 goals against average, they are being left out to dry by the Rampage players who are turning the puck over and allowing high-chance shot after high-chance shot.

Wolves Top Line Stars

The Chicago Wolves possess one of, if not the, best lines in the American Hockey League right now. Brooks Macek leads the league with 12 goals in just 11 games, including one hat trick and three two-goal efforts thus far, while Daniel Carr is eighth in the league in scoring with 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists). Linemate Gage Quinney has seven goals of his own, and they are consistently the bets possession-driver for Rocky Thompson’s team. They’re also one-two-three in the league in plus/minus, with Carr and Macek plus-15 and Quinney plus-14.

AHL Three Stars of the Week

★ – Zac Dalpe – Cleveland – Eight points in two games, five goals and three assists for a share of the league’s goal-scoring lead with 12 goals in 12 games. He also leads the league in points with 19 (three more than 2nd place)
★★ – Brooks Macek – Chicago – Third weekend in a row with three goals and owns a share of the league’s goal-scoring lead with 12 goals in 11 games
★★★ – Jordan Binnington – San Antonio – Backstopped the Rampage to just their third win of the season with a 30-save shutout on Friday night against Stockton

Reigning League MVP Returns to Fort Wayne

In the biggest move of the season-to-date, the reigning ECHL MVP, Shawn Szydlowski, has rejoined the Fort Wayne Komets. To make room for him, the Komets’ moved Garret Ross to South Carolina in exchange for forward Jake Kamrass.

Szydlowski’s should provide an immediate impact on both sides of the ice. Entering play on Tuesday, the Komets’ offense sits mid-pack in the ECHL, averaging 3.13 goals per game. Additionally, Szydlowski should be able to a struggling Komets’ team on the defensive end. The K’s allow 3.5 goals per game, which is seventh worst in the ECHL.

Rising Tides in Norfolk

There is an aphorism out there which says “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Such a saying couldn’t be truer than in Norfolk, where the Admirals have risen to the top of the South Division through the season’s first four weeks.

Through the first ten games of the season, the Admirals are out to a 7-3-0-0 start, their best start since the move to the ECHL. Robbie Ftorek‘s team has been strong on the home and road, with the Admirals collecting four of six points on a recently-completed three-game road trip.

The two-pronged backbone of the Admirals so far has been netminder Ty Reichenbach, who is tied for the league-lead with five wins, and the Admirals offense; led by Chris Crane, Ben Duffy, and rookie Connor Hurley, who each have eight points. On special teams, the Admirals have been strong; ranked 11th on the power play (17.1% efficiency) and second on the penalty kill (91.7% kill rate).

But perhaps the most telling stat is the record the Admirals have against the Everblades and Stingrays. So far this season, the Admirals are 3-2-0-0 against those two teams, with 11 more combined meetings this season. In 14 meetings against Florida and South Carolina, the Admirals went 3-9-2-0.

ECHL Three Stars of the Week

★ – Justin Hodgman – Fort Wayne – Had a five-point game (1G, 4A) against Kalamazoo on Saturday night
★★ – Shane Berschbach – Toledo – Has 13 points (7G, 6A) in just 9 games, and is on a five-game scoring streak
★★★ – Cam Johnson – Adirondack – Backstopped the Thunder to a 2-0-0 weekend record with one shutout, a 0.50 goals-against average and a save percentage of .980.

The SPHL Makes the Right Call

When I first saw in real-time Craig Simchuk‘s hit on Carter Shinkaruk during the Birmingham Bulls/Evansville Thunderbolts game on Friday night, the first thing which came to mind was the incident with Simchuk, then with the Columbus Cottonmouths, run Peoria Rivermen goaltender Kyle Rank head-first into the goal post. Simchuk would get ejected from the game for head contact along with a match penalty – which automatically comes with a one-game suspension and a league review.

The hit did look scary. Shinkaruk, skating into the neutral zone, was hit hard from his right side by Simchuk along the near boards. The hit rocked Shinkaruk’s head back as he fell to the ice, giving the initial impression that Simchuk went helmet-to-helmet.

Fortunately, I started looking at the replay after all of the evening’s games were done. Looking at the same play in slow motion, my opinion of the hit changed. Simchuk’s shoulder hit Shinkaruk in the chest and it’s possible Shinkaruk’s own stick – held upright at the time of impact – made contact with the helmet.

Although the call was wrong. I’m not going to fault the official on his actions. He had to make a snap judgment in real-time. In cases like this, league review provides a means to correct errors made on the ice.

Fortunately for Simchuk, despite his previous incident almost three years ago, the SPHL did the right thing and overturned the match penalty.  Exactly how the system should work.

Three Stars of the Week

★ – Jake Trask – Macon – 3 goals, game-winning goal, +3, 5-game goal/point streak
★★ – Ed Minney – Evansville – 29-save shutout win
★★★ – Justin Greenberg – Peoria – 2 goals, assist, +3

Those are our takeaways, what are yours? Let us know by dropping a comment!

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