WICHITA, Kan. – Another case for instant replay, trippy jerseys, and dogs that have bite make up week five of the Tuesday Takeaways.
Let’s get after it…
The Texas Stars have seen a huge trickle-down effect from injuries at the parent club in Dallas. In just the past week, they have had nine player transactions. It did come at a lucky time for the Calder Cup runners-up, as they were able to take two in a row against the league-worst San Antonio Rampage, but a revolving lineup is never good, especially for a team which has, at times, struggled to maintain chemistry. The true test for the ever-changing roster will come Wednesday and Friday, as the Stars host the Manitoba Moose and Rockford IceHogs, respectively. The Stars have just a plus-four goal differential at this point, and will need to find a way to develop chemistry in the deep Central Division.
King of the North
At this point, the Rochester Americans have a four-point lead on their North Division rivals, followed by the Cleveland Monsters, Binghamton Devils and Laval Rocket rounding out the remaining three playoff spots. Out of the four, only Rochester was penciled in during the preseason to be a playoff team. The Utica Comets, Toronto Marlies and Syracuse Crunch have all been well below expectations at this point in the season.
In their defense, the Marlies and Crunch have played three fewer games than the rest of the division, and have a positive goals-differential, but many pegged these two to challenge for the division title. Toronto has faced early goaltending injuries, with Kasimir Kaskisuo and Jeff Glass each missing a few games at this point. However, third-string goaltender Eamon McAdam has been a pleasant surprise, posting a 1-0-1-0 record in two appearances.
The Comets are struggling to score. They do not have a single player near the point-per-game threshold, and are a minus-12 goal differential. It’s simple – Utica needs either its existing players to step up and contribute offensively, or they need to add a power-scorer if they want to mound a comeback in the standings.
As for the Crunch, they just need to tighten up play a bit. Yes, they’re only at 11 games played compared to the rest of the division, so their standing should be taken with a grain of salt, but a combined 3.26 goals against average and .888 save percentage isn’t the type of goaltending which will bode well entering playoffs.
AHL Three Stars of the Week
★ – Daniel Carr – Chicago Wolves – Five Goals, Four-Goal Game, One Assist, +3
★★ – Erik Condra – Texas Stars – Three Goals, Hat Trick, One Assists, +4
★★★ – Brooks Macek – Chicago Wolves – Two Goals, Five Assists, +1
Trippy shirts, man…
This is a takeaway for something that’s going to happen and it’s one that would have made Cheech and Chong proud. This Saturday night, the Reading Royals are going to wear 3-D jerseys to honor the military. The first 1,000 fans in the door to Santander Arena Saturday night will get 3-D glasses to view the jerseys and there will be spare ones for fans to look at on the concourse.
According to NBC Sports, the jerseys took six months to design, which are believed to be the first of their kind. The entire process was done through with a lot of trial and error between the Royals and Athletic Knit.
The Allen Americans will wear 3-D Christmas jerseys next month. Lord, help our eyes.
This Dog Bites…
I opined in one of the first Tuesday Takeaway articles about the early success of the Newfoundland Growlers, who at the time were in a three-way tie for first in the ECHL North Division. Several weeks have past and I figured it’s probably a good time to check back in on one of the ECHL’s newest teams.
Things have gone quite swimmingly for Ryane Clowe and the Growlers, thank you very much. Through play on Tuesday, the Growlers have an 11-5-0-0 record, sit on top of the North Division (two points clear of Adirondack,) and have won six straight contests. During their six-game winning streak, the Growlers have beat opponents by an average of 2.33 goals/game.
Clowe’s club can play the game in whatever form it takes. If you want physical, he’s got a guy for that in James Melindy, who is in the ECHL’s top five for most penalty minutes by a defenseman.
Offense? They have that in spades, led by rookies Brady Ferguson, Giorgio Estephan, and Scott Pooley. Ferguson and Estephan both are among the ECHL leaders in scoring, regardless of age class. Pooley is a respectable sixth in rookie scoring with 12 points (4G, 8A) and is among the rookie leaders in shots on goal (52).
Finally, if you want a key save made, look no farther than Michael Garteig, who recently won the ECHL’s Goaltender of the Week. Garteig went 3-0-0 with one shutout, a 1.00 goals-against average and a save percentage of .971 in three appearances last week. Additionally, Garteig’s eight wins lead all ECHL netminders.
On special teams, the Growlers are in the top 10 in both penalty kill and power-play efficiencies. Combined, the Growlers have a special teams percentage of 104%, which is very solid for ECHL clubs.
It’s hard to find a weak spot with the Growlers right now and it’s fair to say this team has some staying power through the season.
ECHL Three Stars of the Week
★ – Shane Berschbach – F – Toledo Walleye – One goal, five assists, +3 last week
★★ – Mark Cooper – F – Kansas City Mavericks – Two goals, three assists, +5 last week
★★★ – Michael Garteig – G – Newfoundland Growlers – 3-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .971 sv%, 1 SO last week
The Case for Instant Replay
I may be sounding like a broken record, but this weekend’s action in the SPHL further solidifies the need for official video review across all levels of minor pro hockey. This week, we had a couple of examples of where we need video review in the SPHL.
First, in an example of being struck by lightning twice, the buzzer bug bit the Peoria Rivermen again. In an occurrence remarkable similar to game 3 of the 2016 Presidents Cup Final, Fayetteville’s Darren McCormick‘s last-second overtime shot on Saturday night squeaked past Peoria netminder Mason Pulde to give the Marksmen a stunning win in Carver Arena. Looking at the video replays from a pair of angles, it was inconclusive whether the puck completely crossed the line prior to the end of the period.
The second, and more troubling, exhibit involves the disallowed goal in the third period of the Quad City Storm game against the Birmingham Bulls. Birmingham forward Justin Larson‘s shot rang off of the center support post in the middle of the net, then bounced down to the goalie crease. As the video clearly shows, the puck was well in the net before deflecting out.
The goal, originally signaled correctly on the ice by the official, was waved off after a consultation with the goal judge – who did not activate his goal light. At this point is where the current review system breaks. Since the referee clearly signaled a goal on the ice, the only way the goal should have been overturned only if there was incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.
Depending on where the goal judge is sitting in relation to the net, there is a possibility the goal’s center support post obscured the judge’s view of the puck. While it’s possible the goal judge may not have seen the puck go in the net, there is no way he could have seen the puck not go in the net either. For a split second, the sight of the puck was lost and it cost the Birmingham Bulls a goal they thankfully did not need.
SPHL Three Stars of the Week
★ – Justin Larson – Birmingham Bulls – Three Goals, Hat Trick, Three Assists, +4
★★ – Colin Murray – Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs – Two Goals, Three Assists, +2
★★★ – Alec Hagaman – Peoria Rivermen – Two Goals, Three Assists