A new season means a newly-revamped feature! Welcome to the new Tuesday Takeaways, where Samantha HoffmannMike Campos, and I will give you a few of the major storylines from the weekend across the American Hockey League, ECHL, and Southern Professional Hockey Leagues.

Without further adieu, let’s get into it…

Winners and Losers

After two weekends of play, there are just four undefeated teams left in the American Hockey League – the Charlotte Checkers, Chicago Wolves, Iowa Wild, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – and only two – Charlotte and Chicago – have played four games. Meanwhile, just one team in the AHL is still looking for its first win of the season, the 0-5 Hershey Bears. Out of the seven teams who have played five games, three are 1-4 or worse. But, it’s still very early in the season.

Time to Hit the Panic Button?

Though it’s been anywhere from just three to five games, some teams should already start to worry.

Case in point, the Hershey Bears, who have been out-scored 21-9 in their first five games, allowing over four goals per game and scoring under two. They have converted on just one of 15 power-play opportunities, while allowing seven power-play goals on 19 chances and have yet to make a move to change their roster.

On the other hand, the 1-4 defending Calder Cup-champion Toronto Marlies are working to address their 27-24 scoring differential. It’s not that the Marlies aren’t getting the scoring they need, they’ve scored more than any other team in the league. It’s the lack of defense that’s caused trouble Toronto with two players sitting at -4 and one -6 through five games. Both Jeff Glass and Kasimir Kaskisuo have goals against averages above 4.50, but the Marlies have signed two defensemen this past weekend in hopes of plugging the leaks.

Dear ECHL, Fix Your Website

The 31st season of ECHL hockey kicked off Friday night, and by most accounts, there were not many on-ice incidents. Without a doubt, though, the biggest black eye for the league after opening weekend is the tire fire the league’s website currently is. In a scalp-irritating move, the league rolled out a beta (as in still being worked on) version of the website on the week of regular-season openers.

Need team stats? Nah.

How ’bout a game sheet? Nope.

A reasonable place to check scores from around the league? Keep dreaming.

Let’s check in on what people covering your league think about the new website:

And that’s not to mention what members of your communications staff (at the team level) have to say about it, which includes lots of words I can’t say here.

Hey ECHL, I know we’re not on the best of terms, what with your glass house, good ‘ol boys club and everything, but let me help you out here…advice coming free of charge from Matty H…ROLL OUT THE NEW WEBSITE IN JULY WHEN NOBODY’S GONNA NOTICE!  You can thank me later.

Look, I get what the ECHL is trying to do; have a platform that is more accessible for fans, easier to buy tickets, etc…, but this should have been done sooner. To do it when fans will be trafficking your site frequently wreaks of bad customer service.

And hey, if you need some help with the site, don’t hesitate to contact our Chief Technology Officer, Matt Thomas. He’s done really well building ours.

A Change at the Top

After almost a decade at the helm of the Southern Professional Hockey League, league president Jim Combs is leaving at the end of next month. Combs has been the steady hand of the most successful single-A level pro league, transforming the league from a lightly-regarded pro league into the primary gateway league into the ECHL.

Combs has been fearless in breathing fresh air into minor pro hockey. The SPHL is the league responsible for bringing 3-on-3 overtime to pro hockey in North America, and has made innovative changes such as international-style shootouts and allowing playoff teams to choose their opening-round opponents.

ECHL to SPHL Market Conversions

For the second time in three seasons, the SPHL has transitioned an ECHL market into the 10-team league in a single offseason. Like the Evansville Thunderbolts emerged from the ashes of the ECHL IceMen in 2016, the team once known as the Quad City Mallards begin SPHL play this season as the Quad City Storm.

What Can Be Gained From the SPHL Exhibition Season?

If the SPHL preseason is any indication, look for plenty of bonus hockey to be played in the league this season. On this past Saturday night, all four exhibition games on the league schedule went to overtime.

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