With another weekend of hockey in the rear view mirror, Dakota Johnson and I give you our three takeaways from the last week in the ECHL and tell you who we would choose as the league award winners for the week. Also this week, we will give your our picks for major season-ending league awards at the Thanksgiving holiday.
3. Rob Murray’s Medical Emergency
The minor league hockey world paused for a few minutes Friday night while we anxiously awaited word on what was going on with Tulsa Oilers head coach Rob Murray.
“He was just on the ground and (we) knew something wasn’t right so we had the linesman blow the whistle so we could get attention as fast as we could,” Oilers forward Adam Pleskach told Bobby Metcalf of the Quad City Times. “I didn’t see when he fell, I just saw when we were trying to help him up and knew something wasn’t right. It wasn’t just that he slipped and fell; it was something else. We were all really worried and shaken up, but he’s a really good guy, and he’s a good coach.”
As it turns out, the diagnosis was the best outcome for a horrible scenario. Doctors said Murray suffered from exhaustion and dehydration and at present, the Kelly Cup champion is at home recovering.
If Murray’s emergency does anything, hopefully, it shines a light on the lengths coaches will go to achieve the high of winning games. Coaches often have a worse diet than players, are up all hours of the day and night game planning and breaking down game tape, and wear many hats (including per diem distributor, payroll, counselor, etc…) while enduring the brutal travel schedule that comes for every minor league team.
At some point, personal health has to usurp the high of winning.
2. Can Greenville Keep Up Their Unconscious Offensive Pace?
The Swamp Rabbits have been scoring goals in bunches this season. Through 15 games, they have lit the lamp 70 times (an average of 4.67 goals per game) and have been held to two or fewer goals just once this season.
Allan McPherson, Caleb Herbert, Adam Chapie, and Branden Troock all have spots in the top-15 in league scoring; no other team has more than three (Wheeling). The quartet has combined for 35 goals and 48 assists (83 points) or 44.15 percent of Greenville’s point production (188 as a team entering Tuesday.) One has to think that given their output so far, it’s just a matter of time before AHL clubs pick up one or two of these guys.
In a conference that plays wide-open hockey, it is entirely possible that the Swamp Rabbits can keep up the pace offensively, but it’s not a model for success in the playoffs. This Swamp Rabbits club appears to be a carbon copy of the team Brian Gratz iced last year; a prolific offensive team that doesn’t play a lot of defense and has a decent netminder. If they can keep up this offensive pace, they will have a shot at making the playoffs, but until the defense tightens up, they will be more of a novelty than considered a real championship contender.
1. League Awards at Thanksgiving
With the season a fifth of the way done, it never hurts to take a look at who Dakota & I would have on our awards ballot if the season ended today. For this exercise, we are looking at the Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year, Most Outstanding Goalie and Rookie of the Year awards:
|Most Valuable Player||Michael Joly – Colorado||Caleb Herbert – Greenville|
|Coach of the Year||Malcolm Cameron – Wichita||Ryan Warsofsky – S. Carolina|
|Most Outstanding Goalie||Pat Nagle – Toledo||Pat Nagle – Toledo|
|Rookie of the Year||Reid Gardner – Wheeling||Shane Starrett – Wichita|
Time to hand out some virtual “hardware!”
If we were given award ballots, here are our choices for the league’s weekly awards:
Goalie of the Week – Tyler Parsons (KC): Parsons went 4-0-0 with one shutout (his first as a professional,) a 1.49 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage last week, helping the Mavericks to a five-game winning streak.
Player of the Week – Mike McMurtry (KC): The second-year pro has been on a tear in the last five games, collecting seven points during that stretch (3G, 4A). McMurtry is now tied for 15th in overall league scoring with 16 points (6G, 10A).
Goalie of the Week – Parker Milner (SC): Milner is off to another hot start with the Stingrays this season, going 2-0-0 last week, allowing three goals in 84 minutes of work (relief duty on Sunday).
Player of the Week – Caleb Herbert (Greenville): The fourth-year forward is off to a blistering start to the season, putting up points in 15 straight games to open the campaign (10G, 15A = 25 pts overall). Last week, Herbert lit the lamp three times and had three helpers (six points overall) in three games.