Bushito

Calgary Wranglers Corral of Honor

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RW - Brett Slobodzian
Birthplace: Saskatoon, Canada
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 180 lbs
Jersey Number: 18
Drafted: S1 CGY (GM Rule)
Username: slobodzian_18/Rybak_49

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While Brett Slobodzian was never the same after a devastating off season right knee injury in S3 that threatened his ability to play hockey, he still put together two very solid seasons but will be always remember for his tenure of dominance in the early days of the VHL. One of the VHL’s first true superstars and arguably the best player from the first three seasons of the league, Brett Slobodzian retired from the VHL on June 29th, 2008.

Slobodzian was not draft eligible as he was one of the league’s eight players who joined each one of the clubs at the beginning of the inaugural season. From the outset Slobodzian quickly established himself as one of the premier talents in the VHL. A natural offensive dynamo, Slobodzian possessed world class offensive skills that allowed him too quickly assert himself at the top of VHL scoring. Slobodzian marveled crowds across the league with his ability to simply dominate a game whenever he wanted to do so. While Slobodzian was never a major physical presence, he had one of the best shots the league will ever see. While his shot was good enough to light the lamp night in and night out, he also had uncanny vision which resulted in high assist totals in his career and helped make his linemates better players as well.

One of the main things people will remember about Slobodzian’s career is what could have been. Before his injury, Slobodzian was widely considered to be one of the top two players in the league alongside rival Scotty Campbell. However after it he never managed to make it back to peak form. One of the main knocks against Slobodzian will be the circumstances of his retirement. While nothing concrete has surfaced, an inner feud has been described as being the reason for what many considered a premature retirement that has left many Calgary Wrangler fans with a somewhat bitter taste in their mouth. Nonetheless, Brett Slobodzian will go down as one of the best players to ever lace up the skates in the VHL. Here is a year by year reflection of Slobodzian’s career.

Career Awards:

S1 Victory Cup (Best Regular Season Record) with the Calgary Wranglers
S1 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S1 Gretzky Trophy (Most Valuable Player)
S1 Lemieux Trophy (Most Points)
S1 Joe Malone Memorial Trophy (Most Goals)
S1 Mikita Trophy (Most Assists)
S1 North American Conference All-Star
S2 Continental Cup (VHL Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S2 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S2 Sam Pollock Memorial Trophy (Executive of the Year)
S2 Howe Trophy (Playoff Most Valuable Player)
S2 Team Canada Member
S2 Bronze Medalist with Team Canada
S3 Continental Cup (VHL Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S3 Victory Cup (Best Regular Season Record) with the Calgary Wranglers
S3 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S3 Gretzky Trophy (Most Valuable Player)
S3 Lemieux Trophy (Most Points)
S3 Joe Malone Memorial Trophy (Most Goals)
S3 Mikita Trophy (Most Assists)
S3 Francis Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike)
S3 North American Conference All-Star
S4 Team Canada Member
S4 Gold Medalist with Team Canada

Season 1 Statistics

Regular Season
S1 (Calgary)  72GP/ 79G / 92A / 171P / +103 / 38PIM / 40H / 640S / 12SB / 16GWG
Playoffs
S1 (Calgary) 10GP / 10G / 9A / 19P / +6 / 4PIM / 8H / 60S / 0SB / 1GWG

Slobodzian wasted no time in establishing himself as the premier offensive talent in the VHL in S1. The key cog in an extremely potent Calgary Wranglers team, which will likely go down as the most successful regular season team in VHL history with an absolutely incredible 69-3 record, Slobodzian led the VHL in scoring by a very impressive 36 point margin. Despite carrying over his impressive play in the playoffs, the heavily favoured Wranglers were surprisingly upset in the Continental Cup Finals by Vasteras IK. Slobodzian’s incredible season recognized him with the Triple Crown for leading the league in Goals, Assists and Points as well as the league’s first ever MVP award.

Season 2 Statistics

Regular Season
S2 (Calgary) 72GP / 64G / 61A / 125P / +54 / 71PIM / 37H / 496S / 25SB / 11GWG
Playoffs
S2 (Calgary) 11GP / 13G / 12A / 25P / +3 / 8PIM/ 5H / 94S / 3SB / 2GWG

With lofty expectations on Calgary’s young star, Slobodzian took a step back along with the entire Wrangler’s team. While they still had a very strong regular season, they were not nearly as dominant in S2 as they had been the year prior. Slobodzian finished the regular season fourth in VHL scoring and saw a dip on all of his major offensive categories. However the playoffs proved a different story, as Slobodzian was instrumental in the Wranglers Continental Cup run which eventually resulted in a revenge sweep over European rivals Vasteras IK. Slobodzian quickly proved himself to be a true playoff producer with an astronomical 25 points in only 11 games, including 13 goals. As a result, Slobodzian was deemed to be the VHL’s playoff MVP.

Season 3 Statistics

Regular Season
S3 (Calgary) 72GP / 76G / 78A / 154P / +103 / 28PIM / 20H / 677S / 17SB / 17GWG
Playoffs
S3 (Calgary) 11GP / 12G / 12A / 24P / +12 / 4PIM / 13H / 103S / 3SB / 2GWG

In S3 Slobodzian returned to form, leading the league in all the major offensive categories in the process of regaining the big trophies that had eluded him in S2. Coming off a Continental Cup Victory in S2, the Wranglers were once again overwhelming favourites in S3, but this time they were able to live up to expectations despite two tough playoff series against Conference rivals Toronto Legion and then a thrilling seven game series win against the surprising Helsinki Titans. While Slobodzian was once again a major contender for the playoff MVP, he was ousted by Helsinki’s outstanding goaltender Maxim Desny. While many thought Slobodzian was only on the cusp of greatness, the S3 off-season would change everything.

Season 4 Statistics

Regular Season
S4 (Calgary) 72GP / 40G / 43A / 83P / +17 / 43PIM / 17H / 477S / 19SB / 8GWG
Playoffs
n/a

During the S3 off-season Slobodzian incurred a devastating right knee injury while working out that required complete re-construction of both his ACL and MCL ligaments. Many consider it a miracle in itself that Slobodzian was even able to recover enough to play for Calgary in S4 at all. However the effects were very apparent as Slobodzian’s production decreased drastically to the lowest point in his career by far. It seemed to affect the entire Wrangler roster as well as they missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in a season many Wrangler fans would like to forget.

Season 5 Statistics

Regular Season
S5 (Calgary) 72GP / 46G / 57A / 103P / +58 / 52PIM / 25H / 439S / 32SB / 6GWG
Playoffs
S5 (Calgary) 6GP / 6G / 5A / 11P / -6 / 2PIM / 0H / 30S / 0SB / 0GWG

In S5 Slobodzian showed some signs of improvement, breaking the 100 point mark again for the fourth time in his illustrious career. After a season without playoffs, Calgary was able to re-tool and make the franchises fourth appearance in the playoffs where they came up just short against a very strong Seattle Bears squad. However Slobodzian showed off flashes of his old self in the playoffs where he had 11 points and 6 goals in only 6 playoff games.

Career Totals

Regular Season
360GP / 305G / 331A / 636P / +335 / 232PIM / 139H / 2729S / 105SB / 58GWG 
Playoffs
38GP / 41G / 38A / 79P / +15 / 18PIM / 26H / 287S / 6SB / 5GWG

Brett Slobodzian’s final VHL game was played on June 14th, 2008 where the Seattle Bears eliminated the Calgary Wranglers in Game 6 of the S6 North American Conference Finals by an 8-4 score, Slobodzian earned one assist in the loss. Slobodzian’s astonishing career recognized him with the most prestigious awards a VHL player can win, including a two time Continental Cup Champion. While the back half of his career was marred from an injury that eventually forced him into early retirement, Slobodzian will still go down in VHL history as one of the most talented players to ever hit a VHL ice surface, and rightfully so.

Edited by Bushito

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LW - Scott Boulet
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 215 lbs
Jersey Number: 78
Drafted: S1 CGY (1/6)
Username: djscooter


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When looking into Scott Boulet’s career numbers, people would likely think that he was a dominant scorer within the VHL (Victory Hockey League). Even though he never went below one-hundred points in a season in his career, Boulet’s pride came from his defensive efforts. He always played defense first and then if there was the possibility to get a point he would jump into the play. One of the most fascinating feats by Boulet was not the fact that he did put up at least one hundred points in all six seasons, but he was a plus rating every season. It could be argued that Boulet played on the Calgary Wranglers and it was always a winning team, but even in season four when the Wranglers did not make the playoffs, Boulet was a plus twenty-five.

When Boulet was picked sixth overall by Brett Slobodzian and the Calgary Wranglers in the Season One VHL Dispersal Draft, people were hesitant of what to think. At this moment it wasn’t known that Boulet would be a player to put up six one-hundred point seasons. It was thought that he was a role player, perhaps play third line or second line minutes, and he would be a hard player to build a team around. In the end t turned out that Boulet was one of few first round picks that had a successful career in the VHL.

Career Awards

S1 Victory Cup (Best Regular Season Record) with the Calgary Wranglers
S1 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S1 Delvecchio Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)
S1 North American Conference All-Star
S2 Continental Cup (VHL Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S2 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S2 Delvecchio Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)
S2 North American Conference All-Star
S2 Team Switzerland Member
S3 Continental Cup (VHL Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S3 Victory Cup (Best Regular Season Record) with the Calgary Wranglers
S3 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S4 North American Conference All-Star
S4 Team Central Europe Member
S4 Bronze Medalist with Team Central Europe
S5 Delvecchio Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)
S6 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S6 Gretzky Trophy (Season MVP)
S6 Delvecchio Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)
S6 North American Conference All-Star

Season 1 Statistics

 

Regular Season
S1 (Calgary) 72GP/ 53G / 79A / 132P / +107 / 184PIM / 132H / 461S / 7SB / 7GWG
Playoffs
S1 (Calgary) 10GP / 6G / 13A / 19P / +8 / 33PIM / 22H / 63S / 2SB / 3GWG

Moving into Boulet’s first season, expectations increased dramatically for this once upon a time role player. He was now expected to compliment Brett Slobodzian on Calgary’s first line and put up a decent offensive numbers. Although these expectations rose, no one expected the kind of offensive fire power that he showed that season. He finished third in league scoring just behind Scotty Campbell and teammate Brett Slobodzian. Along with these points Boulet put up one-hundred and thirty two hits and one-hundred and eighty-four penalty minutes, which led the league in both categories. Moving into the playoffs Boulet did not slow down as he, along with Slobodzian, helped his team to the Continental Cup Final where they lost in six games to Vasteras IK. It was nothing short of a spectacular start for Scott Boulet and it shaped his career to come.

Season 2 Statistics

Regular Season
S2 (Calgary) 72GP / 60G / 59A / 119P / +63 / 199PIM / 133H / 481S / 23SB / 11GWG
Playoffs
S2 (Calgary) 11GP / 8G / 9A / 17P / +9 / 18PIM / 18H / 78S / 5SB / 1GWG

Even though Boulet had such a stellar season, he was in the rear-view mirror behind teammate Brett Slobodzian who led the league in points by a drastic amount. This was not a bother to Boulet as he went out and put up another superb season. He did not have the offensive output that he had in his first season, but once again led the league in hits and penalty minutes and was really beginning to establish himself as the premier two-way forward in the VHL. Moving into the playoffs once again, Boulet continued his dominance in most categories and once again made it to the Continental Cup Final against Vasteras IK. The only difference this time was that Boulet won the Continental Cup. This just added to the impressive resume Boulet was building up in his young career.

Season 3 Statistics

Regular Season
S3 (Calgary) 72GP/ 56G / 53A / 109P / +77 / 191PIM / 113H / 454S / 21SB / 7GWG
Playoffs
S3 (Calgary) 11GP / 6G / 11A / 17P / +8 / 31PIM / 17H / 108S / 7SB / 2GWG

With the coming of season three, Boulet began to mould into the player everyone once thought he would be. He was still putting up an ideal amount of points, but nothing like he was in his first two seasons. He once again led the league in penalty minutes and was in the leagues top ten for hits. It was no longer Boulet’s job to score goals and put up points as the Wrangler’s were built into an offensive powerhouse with Brett Slobodzian and Ondrej Skokan. In season three Boulet continued his play off dominance. The Wranglers once again beat Vasteras IK in the Continental Cup Final and Boulet captured his second cup in three seasons.

Season 4 Statistics

Regular Season
S4 (Calgary)  72GP/ 58G / 50A / 108P / +25 / 215PIM / 126H / 503S / 37SB / 6GWG

The season three offseason brought a devastating blow to the Calgary Warngler organization as their star offensive player, Brett Slobodian underwent reconstruction surgery on his MCL and ACL. Although still a threat, he was never the same player. This brought us to a new era in Calgary as the star player focus went from Slobodzian to Boulet, a focus that Boulet was completely willing to accept. Boulet once again put up the numbers that were expected. Unfortunately without the offensive presence from season three the Wranglers were not the same team and failed to make the playoffs for the only time in franchise history to date.

Season 5 Statistics

Regular Season
S5 (Calgary)  72GP/ 57G / 73A / 130P / +64 / 227PIM / 134H / 582S / 36SB / 13GWG
Playoffs
S5 (Calgary) 6GP / 4G / 5A / 9P / -4 / 8PIM / 8H / 35S / 6SB / 0GWG

Moving into season five the Wranglers looked like the team that was once feared. If it wasn’t for the dominance of the Seattle Bears, it could have been possible for the Wranglers to win their third Continental Cup. Even though Slobodzian was not back to the form that he once was at, Boulet picked up his offensive game and was a large piece to the Wranglers season puzzle. Although the Wrangler’s did not make the playoffs in season four, Boulet did not miss a beat as he was once again dominant in the playoff picture. The Wranglers were defeated by the Bears in six games, who later went on two win their second Continental Cup.

Season 6 Statistics

Regular Season
S6 (Calgary)  72GP/ 65G / 74A / 139P / +65 / 313PIM / 134H / 587S / 50SB / 11GWG
Playoffs
S6 (Calgary) 12GP / 5G / 1A / 6P / -11 / 57PIM / 25H / 63S / 10SB / 0GWG

Boulet went into Calgary’s training camp like any other season, but the only difference came after day one of camp as he scheduled a post-practice press conference to tell the league and his teammates that it would be his final season playing in the VHL. Boulet had a great season on a decent Calgary team which allowed him to achieve his first Gretzky Trophy in his lengthy career and his fourth Delvecchio Trophy. Although having his best season, Boulet was next to invisible in the playoffs. He put up a total of six points in twelve games through the playoffs, while only potting two points in the five game Continental Cup Finals against the Helsinki Titans. This effort was no where near good enough as the Titans hoisted the trophy for the first time in their franchise’s history.

Career Totals

Regular Season
432 GP / 349G / 388A / 737P / +401 / 1329PIM / 772H / 3059S / 174SB / 55GWG
Playoffs
50GP / 29G / 39A / 68P / +10 / 147PIM / 117H / 347S / 30SB / 6GWG

Boulet played his last VHL game on August 25th 2008 against the Helsinki Titans in the Continental Cup Final. The Calgary Wranglers lost in five games forcing an unhappy end to the career of Scott Boulet. Although it was an unhappy end, Boulet leaves the VHL having nothing left to prove. He won two Continental Cups, won the Delvecchio Trophy four times as the VHL top defensive forward, and perhaps one of the of most prestigious awards, the Gretzky Trophy as the season MVP. Boulet was a four time all-star and it was something the Washington Capitals could not pass it up as they signed Boulet to an entry level contract marking the end to Scott Boulet’s career in the Victory Hockey League.

Edited by Bushito

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D - Joey Kendrick
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 201 lbs
Jersey Number: 55
Drafted: S1 SEA (GM Rule)
Username: @Kendrick


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Joey Kendrick was one of the most revolutionary players to ever play in the Victory Hockey League. Often considered by many to be almost like a fourth forward, and one of the greatest offensive defenseman in VHL history, Joey Kendrick retired from the VHL on June 30th, 2008.

Kendrick was not eligible to be selected in the S1 Dispersal Draft as he was set to be the General Manager of the Seattle Everblades who have since been renamed the Seattle Bears. From his first games in the league, Kendrick quickly earned the reputation of being one of the premier defenseman in the VHL. Blessed with one of the better shots in the league, Kendrick was a fixture on the first powerplay unit his entire career. He will also be remembered for his slick passing and uncanny puck handling skills, possessing the ability to make a rush out of nothing and making flawless break out passes. Kendrick continued to work on his defensive play as he matured during his duration in the league and was eventually considered to be one of the top defenders in the league.

Some of his detractors will argue that Kendrick was not a true defenseman in that he was largely a defensive liability early in his career. While they may have a point, Kendrick refined the defenseman position in the VHL showing that players could be successful if they can take over the game offensively. While he was often outspoken and had his share of enemies around the league, the consensus is that there are few people who do not appreciate the talent that Kendrick displayed night in and night out during his 6 season career in the VHL. Here is a year by year reflection of the career that was Joey Kendrick’s.

Career Awards:

S1 North American Conference All-Star
S2 European Conference All-Star
S2 Team Central Europe Member
S3 North American Conference All-Star
S3 Continental Cup (VHL Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S3 Victory Cup (Best Regular Season Record) with the Calgary Wranglers
S3 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champions) with the Calgary Wranglers
S4 North American Conference All-Star
S4 Team Northern Europe Member
S5 North American Conference All-Star
S5 Mikita Trophy (Most Assists)
S5 Orr Trophy (Top Defenseman)
S6 North American Conference All-Star
S6 Team Germany Member

Season 1 Statistics

Regular Season
S1 (Seattle) 72GP/ 13G / 62A / 75P / -14 / 32PIM / 42H / 148S / 89SB / 1GWG
Playoffs
S1 (Seattle) 4GP / 1G / 4A / 5P / -4 / 2PIM / 2H / 11S / 7SB / 0GWG

S1 saw the Seattle Everblades enter one of the tightest playoff races in VHL history with Seattle eventually being tied with Toronto for the second playoff spot in the North American Conference, and advancing on the basis of having more wins. Kendrick was instrumental in helping Seattle to the playoff appearance, finishing fourth in defenseman scoring during the regular season and second on the team in scoring. Despite his continued success into the playoffs, Seattle was unable to challenge the powerhouse Calgary Wranglers, being swept in the first round of the playoffs.

Season 2 Statistics

Regular Season
S2 (Seattle) 12GP / 2G / 16A / 18P / E / 6PIM / 8H / 17S / 16SB / 0GWG
S2 (Avangard) 28GP / 6G / 10A / 16P / -16 / 14PIM / 21H / 30S / 62SB / 1GWG
S2 (Stockholm) 28GP / 7G / 14A / 21P / +6 / 24PIM / 19H / 44S / 36SB / 0GWG
TOTALS 68GP / 15G / 40A / 55P / -10 / 44PIM / 48H / 91S / 114SB / 1GWG
Playoffs
S2 (Stockholm) 4GP / 1G / 1A / 2P / -4 / 4PIM / 5H / 7S / 12SB / 0GWG

After a tumultuous off-season in Seattle where many rumours surfaced that Kendrick might be moved, he still remained in Seattle at the start of S2. However after only 12 games the Everblades moved the star defenseman to the Avangard Havoc in a blockbuster deal for Alex Gegeny. However the stars did not align in Avangard as the Havoc struggled to play to their potential, making it a short stay in Russia for Kendrick. He was then shipped to Stockholm as the Rams looked to bolster their roster for a playoff run, one which they were able to sneak into thanks in large part to Kendrick. Bouncing around hurt Kendrick’s S2 numbers as he only put up 55 points, good for 10th in defenseman scoring. Like S1, the S2 playoffs were another short stint for Kendrick as the Rams were quickly swept by Vasteras.

Season 3 Statistics

Regular Season
S3 (Calgary) 72GP / 25G / 69A / 94P / +91 / 44PIM / 34H / 129S / 58SB / 3GWG
Playoffs
S3 (Calgary) 11GP / 2G / 14A / 16P / +14 / 12PIM / 5H / 22S / 10SB / 1GWG

After being a free agent following S2, Kendrick elected to join one of the top teams in the VHL, the Calgary Wranglers in search of some post season success. Kendrick was an immediate asset to the S2 Continental Cup champions putting up 94 points during the regular season to finish second in defenseman scoring. Kendrick carried his breakout offensive season to the playoffs where he had 16 points in only 11 games, playing a key role in helping Calgary to their second straight Continental Cup, while earning himself what would turn out to be his only championship in the VHL.

Season 4 Statistics

Regular Season
S4 (Calgary) 72GP / 28G / 65A / 93P / +25 / 58PIM / 51H / 199S / 122SB / 5GWG
Playoffs
n/a

With expectations high for the Wranglers coming off back to back championships, the Wranglers season was a considerable disappointment as the team missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Despite the shortcomings of the team, Kendrick had another strong season nearly matching his point totals from S3. Once again Kendrick was second in defenseman scoring for the third time in his career. Nonetheless, with a season well below expectations the pressure was on Kendrick and the Wranglers to turn things around and make the playoffs again in S5.

Season 5 Statistics

Regular Season
S5 (Calgary) 72GP / 22G / 112A / 134P / +67 / 46PIM / 35H / 87S / 113SB / 3GWG
Playoffs
S5 (Calgary) 6GP / 1G / 5A / 6P / -8 / 6PIM / 6H / 17S / 13SB / 0GWG

S5 would prove to be the most memorable in Joey Kendrick’s career as he set VHL defenseman records for assists and points in a season (which remained such until S20), not to mention the overall VHL record for most assists in a season. Leading the Wranglers in scoring with 134 points, Kendrick was by far the top scoring defenseman in the league outscoring his closest competition by 31 points. Kendrick would go on to win the Orr Trophy as the league’s best defenseman in S5. While the Wranglers made the playoffs again, they were unable to unseat the league’s new powerhouse the Seattle Bears, bowing out in 6 games. Kendrick was unable to carry over his regular season success, finishing a -8 in the series.

Season 6 Statistics

Regular Season
S6 (Calgary) 56GP / 25G / 63A / 88P / +40 / 101PIM / 50H / 193S / 93SB / 3GWG
S6 (Seattle) 16GP / 8G / 14A / 22P / +5 / 10PIM / 19H / 46S / 47SB / 1GWG
TOTALS 72GP / 33G / 77A / 110P / +45 / 11PIM / 69H / 239S / 140SB / 4GWG
Playoffs
S6 (Seattle) 7GP / 0G / 4A / 4P / +1 / 14PIM / 3H / 11S / 23SB / 0 GWG

With high expectations coming into S6, Kendrick turned in another exceptional season, leading all VHL defenseman in scoring once again with 110 points. While his season started in Calgary, after Kendrick made it known to the club that he was going to be retiring from the VHL at the end of the season he was moved to the Seattle Bears in a deadline trade. However the trade actually ended up working against Kendrick as his new club was beaten by his former team in a gritty seven game series in the North American Conference Finals. Kendrick had 4 assists in the series, his last in the VHL.

Career Totals

Regular Season
428GP / 136G / 425A / 561P / +204 / 335PIM / 279H / 996S / 636SB / 17GWG
Playoffs
32GP / 5G / 28A / 33P / -1 / 38PIM / 21H / 68S / 65SB / 1GWG

Joey Kendrick’s last VHL game was played on August 20th, 2008 in a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Wranglers. Kendrick was one of the most innovative players to ever grace a VHL ice surface. His supreme skill from the point revolutionized the role of a defenseman in the league and has spawned a much more open style of play. The 6 time all star earned one Orr Trophy during his career in addition to his Continental Cup in S3. Kendrick will always be remembered for his offensive style of play and rightfully so as he is now deserving of his place in VHL history.

Edited by Bushito

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D - Sterling Labatte
Birthplace: Saskatoon, Canada
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 200 lbs
Jersey Number: 7
Drafted: S2 CGY (1/7)
Username: @sterling


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From the moment he first stepped onto VHL ice until eight seasons later he stepped off of the ice after his final game, Sterling Labatte was undoubtedly one of the most dominant players in the entire league. Labatte’s incredible play as an offensive defenseman set the standard for countless future VHL stars and solidified him as one of the best players the VHL has seen, and will ever see. If his play wasn’t enough, the Sterling Labatte Trophy, which is awarded every year to the player deemed to be the best defenseman in the VHL, will immortalize Labatte in hockey history.

Labatte was picked up by the Calgary Wranglers 8th overall in the Season 1 VHL supplementary draft, then again during the Season 2 VHL entry draft. From there on, he was a Wrangler for the rest of his career. Labatte’s loyalty to his team was perhaps one of his best attributes, and the Wranglers were blessed with his presence for eight seasons. Labatte was one of the biggest pieces of the Wranglers powerhouse squad back in the early days of the VHL and lead them to three Continental Cups while establishing himself as probably the greatest defenseman ever to play in the VHL.

Career Awards

S1 Victory Cup (Best Regular Season Record) with the Calgary Wranglers
S1 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S1 Sterling Labatte (Best Defenseman)
S2 Continental Cup (VHL Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S2 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S2 Team Canada Member
S2 Bronze Medalist with Team Canada
S3 Continental Cup (VHL Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S3 Victory Cup (Best Regular Season Record) with the Calgary Wranglers
S3 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S3 North American Conference All-Star
S4 Team Canada Member
S4 Gold Medalist with Team Canada
S5 Most Sportsmen Like Member
S6 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S6 Howe Trophy (Playoff MVP)
S6 Messier Trophy (Top Leader)
S6 Team Canada Member
S6 Bronze Medalist with Team Canada
S6 North American Conference All-Star
S7 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S7 Orr Trophy (Top Defenseman)
S7 Messier Trophy (Top Leader)
S7 North American Conference All-Star
S8 Continental Cup (VHL Champion) with the Calgary Wranglers
S8 Victory Cup (Best Regular Season Record) with the Calgary Wranglers
S8 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (North American Conference Champion with the Calgary Wranglers
S8 Howe Trophy (Playoff MVP)
S8 Orr Trophy (Top Defenseman) 
S8 North American Conference All-Star 
S9 North American Conference All-Star
S9 Victory Cup (Best Regular Season Record) with the Calgary Wranglers

Season 1 Statistics
 

Regular Season
S1 (Calgary)  72GP  /  16G  /  86A  /  102P  /  +93  /  81PIM  /  77H  /  152SH  /  1GWG
Playoffs
S1 (Calgary)  10GP  /  2G  /  8A  /  10P  /  +7  /  16PIM  /  14H  /  14SH  /  0GWG

After being picked up 8th overall in the Supplementary Draft, Labatte burst into the league in his rookie season and quickly became an offensive force on the Wranglers’ blue line. By the time the season was over, it was evident that Labatte was an elite talent on both ends of the ice, finishing the season with one-hundred-two (102) points and an astonishing plus-minus rating of ninety-three (93). Thanks to him, the Wranglers finished first overall in the regular season, winning the Victory Cup. They then lead a run to the Continental Cup finals, although they lost against Vasteras. Despite this, Labatte was every bit as much of a force in the playoffs as he was during the regular season. At the end of the season, Labatte was named the league’s best defenseman.

Season 2 Statistics

Regular Season
S2 (Calgary)  72GP  /  14G  /  46A  /  60P  /  +36  /  109PIM  /  73H  /  152SH  /  2GWG
Playoffs
S2 (Calgary)  11GP  /  0G  /  6A  /  6P  /  +7  /  10SH  /  0GWG

Labatte was re-entered into the Season 2 VHL entry draft, and the Calgary Wranglers were overjoyed at the chance to have him on their roster again as they drafted him 7th overall. Great things were expected from Labatte in his second season, however he didn’t produce near the numbers he did in his rookie season. With that being said, he still had a good season and established himself on the Wranglers blueline. His Wranglers once again finished strong and powered into the Continental Cup finals. This time however, they won it all, the first of three Continental Cups that would be won with Labatte on the team.

Season 3 Statistics

Regular Season
S3  (Calgary)  72GP  /  12G  /  56A  /  68P  /  +64  /  137PIM  /  103H  /  86SH  /  3GWG
Playoffs
S3 (Calgary)  11GP  /  4G  /  9A  /  13P  /  +0  /  16PIM  /  19H  /  27SH  /  2GWG

In his third season, Labatte’s defensive game saw a major improvement, and his offensive game was also a step up from the previous season. Although his offensive still wasn’t near as good as in his first season, it was definitely better than his sophomore year. Labatte’s physical play also got better in season three, where he tallied one-hundred-three (103) hits. The Wranglers also had yet another strong season, winning their second Victory Cup. When the playoffs came round, Labatte really stepped his game up, getting his best post-season numbers yet. He was an absolute force on both ends of the ice during the Season 3 playoffs and for the third year in a row, the Wranglers made it to the finals, where they won the Continental Cup for the second year in a row.

Season 4 Statistics

Regular Season
S4 (Calgary)  72GP  /  11G  /  54A  /  65P  /  +11  /  105PIM  /  91H  /  86SH  /  3GWG

In Season 4, the performances of both Labatte and the Calgary Wranglers dropped. Most of Labatte’s totals however, didn’t drop that significantly, except for his plus-minus. His plus-minus saw a fifty-three point drop, and he finished at eleven (11), his worst total for plus-minus in his entire career. After three consecutive finals and two Continental Cups in a row, it appeared that the Wranglers had fallen from grace very abruptly. For the first time in franchise history, and the only time in Labatte’s career, the Wranglers missed the playoffs.

Season 5 Statistics

Regular Season
S5 (Calgary)  72GP  /  34G  /  43A  /  77P  /  +68  /  151PIM  /  91H  /  111SH  /  2GWG
Playoffs
S5 (Calgary)  6GP  /  3G  /  3A  /  6P  /  -8  /  19PIM  /  4H  /  14SH  /  0GWG

After an ugly Season 4, the Wranglers returned to playoff form once again in Season 5, and Sterling Labatte started to play as well as he had in his rookie season once again. Labatte’s offensive game really broke out, as he not only had his first twenty goal season, but also his first thirty goal season, finishing with thirty-four (34) goals and seventy-seven (77) points. Labatte once again claimed his spot among the best defensemen in the league, and at the end of the season won the Most Sportsmanlike Player award. The Wranglers found their way to the playoffs once again, and though they lost in the first round, Labatte was not to be blamed, as he scored six points in that six game series.

Season 6 Statistics

Regular Season
S6 (Calgary)  72GP  /  37G  /  64A  /  101P  /  +49  /  185 PIM  /  86H  /  230SH  /  4GWG
Playoffs
S6 (Calgary)  12GP  /  5G  /  14A  /  19P  /  +4  /  28PIM  /  25H  /  40SH  /  2GWG

In Season 6, Labatte finally put up numbers like in his rookie season, finishing with only one less point, but scored more than twice as many goals with a career best thirty-seven (37). Throughout the entire season, Labatte was an offensive machine, having his first hundred-point season since his rookie season, and making the Wranglers a cup contender once again. Labatte’s play continued past the season and into the playoffs, where he compiled a career best nineteen (19) points en-route to another appearance in the Continental Cup finals. Labatte brought his ‘A’ game to the playoffs like usual, as he scored thirteen (13) points in thirteen games. Although the Wranglers lost in the finals, Labatte’s excellent play throughout the year won him the Howe Trophy for best playoff performance. He also won the Messier Trophy for the VHL’s best leader, and was named to the North American All-Star team at the end of the season.

Season 7 Statistics

Regular Season
S7 (Calgary) 72GP  /  32G  /  71A  /  103P  /  +41  /  219PIM  /  101H  /  249SH  /  7G
Playoffs
S7  (Calgary)  13GP  /  3G  /  10A  /  13P  /  -4  /  16PIM  /  11H  /  34SH  /  2GWG

When it came time for Season 7, Labatte took the momentum he had from the previous season and build on it, having another spectacular season. For the third year in a row, Labatte scored at least thirty goals, and he got a career high two hundred forty-nine (249) shots on goal during the season. Labatte’s play was reflected in the Wranglers’ season as well, as they had another great season and were once again one of the top teams in the league. In the playoffs, the Wranglers made it to the finals, but were denied for their second year in a row. Labatte’s play in the season earned him some more hardware, he won the Orr Trophy as the league’s best defenseman and the Messier Trophy as the league’s best leader. On top of that, he earned his second of what would become four all-star selections in a row.

Season 8 Statistics

Regular Season
S8 (Calgary)  72GP  /  32G  /  82A  /  114P  /  +67  /  94   /  74  /  251  /  5GWG
(Playoffs)
S8 (Calgary)  12GP  /  7G    /  8A  /  15P  /  +6  /  18PIM  /  15H  /  36SH  /  2GWG

Most players start to notice a decline in their play at the tail end of their VHL careers, Labatte however, was the opposite. In his second last season in the VHL, Labatte had his career-best offensive output with one hundred fourteen (114) points. Labatte dominated for the entire season and with many thanks to his play, the Wranglers won the Victory Cup again. They then continued into the postseason, and made it all the way, winning the Continental Cup. Labatte’s play during the playoffs did not go unrecognized, he was voted the playoff MVP, winning the Howe Trophy. On top of that, he also won another Orr trophy and got selected to the North American all-star team again.

Season 9 Statistics

Regular Season
S9 (Calgary)  72GP /  22G  /  60A  /  82P  /  +54  /  100PIM  /  76H  /  194SH  /  6GWG
Playoffs
S9 (Calgary)  4GP  /  0G  /  1A  /  1P  /  -3  /  2PIM  /  4H  /  6SH  /  0GWG

It’s a rare occasion that somebody has as good of a final season as Labatte did. Though his stats weren’t as good as they had been in the past few years, he still had a great year and lead his team to another Victory Cup. However, come playoffs the Wranglers were swept in the first round, and Labatte’s play – along with the rest of the team – was less than stellar. Despite his weak playoff performance, Labatte was still an easy pick for the North American all-star team at the end of his final season.

Career Totals

Regular Season
648GP  /  210G  /  572A  /  782P  /  +483  /  1181PIM  /  776H  /  1537SH  /  37GWG
Playoffs
 79GP  /  24G  /  59A  /  83P  /  +9  /  111PIM  /  98H  /  181SH  /  8GWG

Though Labatte had a great final season, his last VHL game was a rough way to end his career. Labatte’s final game was a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Legion, as the Legion completed the sweep of Labatte’s Wranglers in the first round of the playoffs. It was a very tough loss for the team and Labatte especially, seeing as the team were cup favourites and it was Labatte’s last shot at his fourth Continental Cup before moving on.
Labatte has now moved on to play in the NHL, however he isn’t very far from what has become his beloved home in Calgary, as he is currently playing for the Calgary Flames. Labatte was truly an exceptional talent and the VHL was lucky to have a player of such talent, heart and dedication in the league.

Edited by Bushito

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RW - Devon Marlow-Marta
Birthplace: Calgary, Canada
Height: 5'11
Weight: 185 lbs
Jersey Number: 93
Drafted: S5 CGY (1/4)
Username: Devon


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At first glance, one might wonder why Devon Marlow-Marta is in the VHL Hall of Fame. He only played six seasons, he never led the league in any stat category, he only won the Continental Cup once, and only won one individual postseason award. Indeed, Marlow-Marta's statistical resume is rather lacking for someone picked to be among the game's all-time greats. Marlow-Marta's true impact, however, couldn't be found in the big numbers, but in the little ones. Devon Marlow-Marta was the prototype for a solid two-way player that, unlike most forwards with defensive talent, could stay out of the box and keep his team five strong. His one individual award was granted due to his sportsmanship, and he was consistently near the bottom of the penalty minute chart while maintaining a strong plus/minus rating and an even stronger offensive output. Devon Marlow-Marta's inclusion in the Hall of Fame is a victory for fundamental hockey, as very few players were as fundamentally strong with high offensive output as Devon Marlow-Marta.

Career Awards

S6 Francis Trophy
S6 All-Star
S7 All-Star
S8 Continental Cup
S8 All-Star
S10 All-Star

Season 5 Statistics

72 GP / 21-30-51 / +28 / 22 PIM / 7 PPG / 2 GWG

Devon didn't spend a second season in the VHLM, going instantly to the Wranglers' VHL roster. From an individual standpoint, his rookie season was rather mediocre. His 51 points were only eleventh on his own team, and among rookies he finished sixth. Unlike most of the other Wranglers' however, he did finish with a positive plus/minus rating, and he managed to avoid the penalty box for most of the season. The Wranglers made the playoffs, but that was due to the poor play of Hamilton and Toronto as much as Calgary's effectiveness. In his first playoff series, Devon recorded five assists, but Seattle dispatched them in six games with relative ease.

Season 6 Statistics

72 GP / 45-63-108 / +57 / 23 PIM / 9 PPG / 6 GWG

Season 6 was a vast improvement for Devon Marlow-Marta. He more than doubled his rookie season in goals, points, asssists, and plus/minus, and found himself up to fourteenth in the entire VHL in scoring. His efficient play was a stark contrast to the rough style of some of his teammates, notably Scott Boulet and Sterling Labatte. Perhaps it was this contrast brought him up in the eyes of the general managers for consideration for the Ron Francis Sportsmanship Award, or maybe it was his improved stats along with his very low penalty minute total; whatever it was, Devon netted his only individual award during this offseason for his sportsmanship. The Wranglers did make the playoffs this season, for the same reason as last season, and this time they were able to get over the Seattle hump in seven games. Again, however, their undoing in the playoffs was a Scotty Campbell team, as Helsinki took them out in five games. Devon actually netted three goals in this playoff year to go along with six assists, but the general ineffectiveness of Calgary's offense, along with rather weak defense in the finals, was their undoing. After the season, Devon made his first appearance on a VHL All-Star Game roster. He also made his first appearance on the international scene for Team Canada at the third VHL World Cup, notching eight points for the bronze-winning Canadians. In the Bronze Medal Game, Devon scored two goals and assisted on the game-winner, earing first-star honors for the affair.

Season 7 Statistics

72 GP / 53-62-115 / +47 / 36 PIM / 16 PPG / 11 GWG

Devon's third season saw him come into his own in a few ways, yet he slightly regressed in a few others. His goal scoring output increased in both raw totals as well as power play and game winning goals, and he scored the first three shorthanded goals of his career. However, his plus/minus dropped, ableit slightly, and he took almost as many hits this season (113) as he did over his first two seasons (127). With the retirement of Boulet, Devon took a more prominent role with the Wranglers, and subsequently saw his ice time and shot total increase. Calgary once again advanced to the Continental Cup Finals in the postseason, vanquishing their longtime foe Scotty Campbell and his Toronto Legion along the way. In the finals, however, they were unable to overcome a very strong Avangard squad, falling in six games. Devon was a big part of the playoff run, tying for the league lead with twenty points over thirteen games. Observers knew Devon and his team would eventually get over the hump, they just weren't sure when.

Season 8 Statistics

72 GP / 49-83-132 / +62 / 29 PIM / 11 PPG / 7 GWG

As it turns out, this was the year they were looking for. While Devon's goal total dropped, he recorded what would end up being his career bests by a wide margin in assists (by 20) and points (by 17), recovered his plus/minus, and dropped his already low penalty minute totals. His totals were helped by the arrivals of Josh Vestiquan and Robbie Zimmers via trade, but Devon secured the team scoring title and finished fourth in the league in scoring. In this postseason, the Wranglers exorcised the demons of their past playoff failures by dispatching Scotty Campbell for the final time before besting the Riga Reign to win Devon's only Continental Cup. In his twelve games, Devon only scored three goals, but he assisted on nine others and was a constant threat to the opposing defenses, taking attention away from his talented linemates. Unfortunately for him and his home nation, however, his success did not carry over to the fourth World Cup, where the Canadians finished dead last. Deovn didn't help the cause, recording four assists in the first four games but not scoring until his two goals in the final game.

Season 9 Statistics

72 GP / 42-55-97 / +68 / 34 PIM / 7 PPG / 4 GWG

Season Nine was the beginning of the end for the Wranglers' dynasty of the early VHL seasons. Devon and Sterling Labatte were beginning to give way to Josh Vestiquan and Matt Bentz, and the team's performance began to reflect a change of the guard. Devon only recorded 97 points, the only time besides his rookie year that he was under the century mark, although he did set his career high in plus/minus. He also established a career high in shots with 608, but his relatively low goal total caused him to establish a career worst in shooting percentage with 6.91%. The Wranglers managed to make the playoffs, but were easily swept aside by the Toronto Legion team they'd bested the two seasons before. The Wranglers as a whole only scored five goals, and Devon only accounted for one assist in the embarrasing series. Perhaps it was because of this that he decided to hang up his skates after one more season.

Season 10 Statistics

72 GP / 55-57-112 / -39 / 50 PIM / 11 PPG / 3 GWG

Devon Marlow-Marta's final season was an anomaly for him, and it confirmed his belief that it was indeed time to retire. The departures of Josh Vestiquan, Sterling Labatte, Ace Lightning, and Max Weinstein left the Wranglers a shell of what they were just a season ago, and they performed accordingly. Despite Devon's career high in goals, the team managed only thirteen wins, finishing their season before the playoffs for the only time in Devon's career. He also set his career low for plus/minus by a wide margin, and played with much more abandon than he did in his prime. The fifty penalty minutes were a career high, as were the forty-seven hits he delivered (compared to his rookie season of twenty-one hits).

Career Statistics

432 GP / 265-350-615 / +223 / 194 PIM / 61 PPG / 33 GWG

Devon Marlow-Marta's career was definitely rather interesting for a player that ended up in the VHL Hall of Fame. Perhaps it serves as a tribute to the hard workers who flew under the radar for most of their careers, occasionally having great games or great seasons but never truly dominating the league. Devon never finished in the top three in scoring and won only one title in his six seasons, a brief career for a member of the Hall. He was, however, the model of efficiency. He scored more goals than he had penalty minutes, and was always well above zero in the plus/minus column until his final season. He was effective on the power play and could come through in the clutch if need be. Interestingly, in his final game (played on May 15, 2009), Devon did what he very rarely did and dominated play for sixty minutes, recording what was one of the better final performances with a four goal night against Vasteras IK. It was an out-of-place ending, but it helped make a bad final season more bearable. Maybe he knew he needed a final push to get him into the Hall of Fame. Whatever the case, it's a deserving end to a deserving player.

Edited by Bushito

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LW - Matt Bentz
Birthplace: New York, USA
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 187 lbs
Jersey Number: 24
Drafted: S8 CGY (2/11)
Username: Matt


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The VHL is well-known for experiencing the growth of many types of players, from two-way forwards to defensive defencemen to All-Star goaltenders. However, the most common player in the VHL's history and likely for the foreseeable future is easily the scoring forward. Whether a sniper or a passer or a bit of both, so many young forwards want to “light the lamp” and score their team victory after victory. Some of these players fail to find much success and toil around the league as depth scorers, wasted talents or simply unlucky players playing at the wrong time in the wrong place. Finally, a small handful become great players and even Hall of Famers, excelling in one or more offensive statistic and becoming the idols more young hockey players look up to. Matt Bentz was one such player. Drafted in the 2nd round of a fairly deep S8 draft, Bentz became the face of the Calgary Wranglers on and off the ice during their darkest days, and headlined a weak team with consistent scoring and made a name around the league as one of the better offensive forwards of the time.

Career Awards:

S8 – Hull Trophy (VHLM)
S8 – Yzerman Trophy (VHLM)
S9 – Victory Cup (Calgary Wranglers)
S9 – Bossy Trophy
S11 – North American All-Star 
S12 – Joe Malone Memorial Trophy
S12 – North American All-Star
S13 – Continental Cup (HC Davos Dynamo)
S13 – Vladimir Kostka Trophy (HC Davos Dynamo)
S13 – Joe Malone Memorial Trophy
S13 – European All-Star

Season 8 Statistics: (VHLM)

Regular Season:
S8 (MIN) - 72GP / 76G / 37A / 113P / +24 / 53PIM / 26H / 560SH / 9GWG
Playoffs:
n/a

As mentioned earlier, Matt Bentz was drafted in the 2nd round, 11th overall, by the Calgary Wranglers in the S8 VHL Entry Draft. Some players drafted before Bentz were flops, such as Calgary's 1st round selection David Knight or New York's Longfellow Deeds, others, such as 2nd overall Zacky Vengeance or the man drafted just before Bentz – Vladimir Kliment, became stars in the same time as Bentz himself. The Wranglers were in the midst of one of their greatest contending eras, having made savvy trades and signings leading up to S8 and becoming the league's top team. The price to pay was an overall lack of youth in the organisation, something that Bentz could help. Matt spent his 1st professional season in the VHLM and put up very promising offensive and even defensive stats on a fairly lackluster Minot Gladiators squad. An obvious sniper, Bentz showed what he was capable of in his only professional VHLM season with a Hull Trophy as top goal-scorer and even an Yzerman Trophy as the league's best two-way forward. Minot, however, missed the playoffs despite Bentz's best efforts to keep them alive, and he couldn't get the call up to Calgary for the playoffs due to cap restrictions and missed out on a Continental Cup.

Season 9 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S9 (CGY) - 72GP / 29G / 56A / 85P / +28 / 37PIM / 20H / 524SH / 5GWG
Playoffs:
S9 (CGY) - 4GP / 2G / 0A / 2P / +1 / 2PIM / 0H / 29SH / 0GWG

By his 2nd season, Bentz managed to cut the Wranglers roster and make his debut in S9. Having missed out on helping to Calgary to their 3rd championship, Bentz was hungry to help the team to repeat, although the Wranglers had begun losing pieces to retirement and most of the team was past its peak. This didn't stop Matt from filling in for the departed Ace Lightning (signed in Riga) on Calgary's 2nd line and he took off offensively right where he left off in the VHLM. Bentz's closest competition for the Bossy Trophy as the league's top rookie was Riga Reign goaltender Marek Van Urho, who had also spent in S9 with the Gothenburg Eagles for development, and had an amazing year in net backstopping the Eagles to a VHLM championship. However, Bentz was playing a less important role on a slightly better team, as Calgary edged out Toronto and Riga for the Victory Cup and this helped Matt rack up a notable 85 points to win the Bossy Trophy. However, Bentz's inexperience showed in the playoffs as he and the Wranglers were shut down and swept by the Legion in a stunning 4 games. The rookie would now become the core of the team though, as his work ethic and position as VHLM commissioner would help him achieve later success.

Season 10 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S10 (CGY) - 72GP / 27G / 54A / 81P / -55 / 21PIM / 17H / 397SH / 1GWG 
Playoffs:
n/a

A massive roster overhaul saw very few active pieces remain in Calgary from their glory years. Alongside veterans Devon Marlow-Marta and Miroslav Ladic, who were both set to retire at the conslusion of the season, Bentz made up almost the whole offense of the now rebuilding Wranglers. A very weak back end saw the team finish last in the league, although they were almost caught up in the race for last place by Vasteras' late slump. There were few positives to take from the season as the future seemed quite bleak, especially with legendary GM Scott Boulet's failure to trade Marlow-Marta and Ladic. There was some good scoring though, as Marlow-Marta hit the 100-point mark once again and helped the likes of Bentz achieve some good numbers as well. Due to this Matt fell to only 4 points back of his rookie season total but had a considerably worse season on the defensive side of things, highlighted by a horrible -55. However, this did nothing to help Calgary's future and at the conclusion of the season it was up to Bentz himself to save the team as he was named Boulet's replacement as GM.

Season 11 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S11 (CGY) - 72GP / 48G / 39A / 87P / -7 / 56PIM / 19H / 410SH / 3GWG
Playoffs:
S11 (CGY) - 4GP / 2G / 2A / 4P / -1 / 0PIM / 2H / 25SH / 0GWG

Bentz's new managerial position did little to change the overall direction of the franchise, as apart from bringing a number of inactive fill-ins, the only notable additions to the team were S10 1st rounder Jonas Markstrom in goal and Leander Kaelin as the highly-touted S11 2nd overall pick. However, having the most developed goaltending prospect in the league at the time and an efficient offensive duo with Bentz and Kaelin (along with some quality inactive depth) was enough for Calgary to squeeze into the playoffs over the even worse rosters in New York and Toronto. Bentz had a season similar points-wise to his first two, but finally went back to his VHLM goal-scoring ways as he was finally the key sniper for the Wranglers, with Kaelin acting as his set-up man. This helped his shot totals and improved his plus/minus to just a -7, but of course, Calgary was no match to the powerhouse Seattle Bears and for the 2nd time in Bentz's career, he was easily swept in the 1st round of the playoffs.

Season 12 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S12 (CGY) - 72GP / 61G / 60A / 121P / +2 / 56PIM / 78H / 366SH / 5GWG 
Playoffs:
n/a

The Wranglers were still stuck in a bit of a limbo in terms of their ongoing rebuild and Bentz drafted Greg Eagleowski in the S12 draft, a new linemate for himself and Leander Kaelin. Although the team was getting worse overall, losing some depth forwards and key defenceman (albeit inactive) Giddy McFly, Bentz and Kaelin were only getting better, with Matt hitting his prime. In his 4th season in the VHL and 5th overall, Bentz took off as a goal-scorer and a passer with an amazing 61 goals and no less solid 60 assists, helping himself to a Joe Malone Memorial Trophy victory as the league's top goal-scorer (proving his VHLM worth) and helping sophomore Kaelin to 100 points. Elsewhere, however, the defending champions in Davos were poised to miss the playoffs in their re-tool period, and a lack of depth helped Bentz's good friend Zach Arce break out as well. Both Arce and Bentz had a positive plus/minus on non-playoff teams and very similar stats in terms of offense with Arce beating out Bentz by just 4 points. Both talented forwards went head-to-head in MVP voting (for both the Scotty Campbell and Brett Slobodzian Trophies) but Bentz got edged out ever so slightly by his Dynamo counterpart. Keeping close with Arce was a feat of its own as Zach would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, paving the way for runner-up Bentz to someday follow suit.

Season 13 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S13 (DAV) - 72GP / 58G / 65A / 123P / +71 / 78PIM / 66H / 442SH / 9GWG 
Playoffs:
S13 (DAV) - 14GP / 5G / 9A / 14P / -1 / 5PIM / 2H / 70SH / 0GWG

However, Bentz did not have a chance to extend his career much past his break-out year in S12. With Calgary's rebuild stalled completely, it would have to be restarted for the S14 draft and the best choice for Bentz as GM would be to retire and sign a new S14 prospect to help a new youth movement. This is what Matt did and by announcing his upcoming retirement at the S13 pre-season, he made him eligible to be traded and was swiftly picked up by Davos, although for few assets that would help the Wranglers. Going to Dynamo meant being able to suit up with best friend off the ice and yet biggest foe on the ice in Zach Arce, and Davos' coaching staff didn't hesitate to put the two talented wingers on one line. Both forwards improved on their S12 totals and yet again Bentz won the Joe Malone Memorial Trophy, this time with 58 goals, but assisted on a few more to improve his point totals by 2. Despite another improvement in terms of points, Bentz was once again behind Arce in scoring overall, as his presence Arce improve to 133 points, an even bigger improvement than that of Bentz. Matt Bentz was again a candidate for VHL MVP, but this time he couldn't keep it as close as he and Arce were on the same team and it was easy to see who was the better forward. However, Bentz managed to showcase himself better in the playoffs as he was a point-per-game player again with 14 points in as many games, finishing his career with a Game 7 Continental Cup victory.

Career Totals:

Regular Season:
360GP / 223G / 274A / 497P / +39 / 248PIM / 200H / 2139SH / 23GWG

Playoffs:
22GP / 9G / 11A / 20P / -1 / 7PIM / 4H / 124SH / 0GWG

Matt Bentz played his last game in Game 7 of the S13 Continental Cup finals, a 4-3 win for the HC Davos Dynamo, finally getting him a championship after not being able to join the powerhouse Wranglers back in S8. Bentz wasn't the most useful player in Game 7 with just 1 assist, but a career-best season and a solid playoff run by him helped a lot for Davos to secure the Victory and Continental Cups and key home ice advantage which eventually they used to the max. It took some time for Bentz to finally be inducted into the Hall of Fame, as he was overshadowed by Zach Arce in his prime and stuck on a losing Wranglers team for most of his career, but in his time, Matt Bentz was one of the most talented goal-scorers.

Edited by Bushito

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C - Mikka Virkkunen
Birthplace: Turku, Finland
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 193 lbs
Jersey Number: 17
Drafted: S14 CGY (GM Rule)
Username: Matt


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Mikka Virkkunen’s entrance into the Victory Hockey League may have been overshadowed by the draft, which he was not a part of. Generally, the draftees will get more attention during the preparatory season in the minors, and when that list of draftees includes Malcolm Kelly and Emerson Hrynyk, it is only more difficult to get noticed. The Season 14 draft was loaded with high-end talent. In a career marked by stability of greatness, Virkkunen was able to shine brighter in his career than his competition. His commitment to the league, playing a full eight-season career, allowed him to climb all the way to fifth in career goals, assists, and points at the time of his retirement. A regular in the All-Star Game and the recipient of a variety of trophies, Mikka Virkkunen was an easy selection for the committee.

Career Awards:

S15 - North American Conference All-Star
S16 - Francis Trophy 
S16 - North American Conference All-Star
S17 - Francis Trophy 
S17 - North American Conference All-Star
S18 - Continental Cup (with Calgary) 
S18 - Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (with Calgary)
S18 - Scotty Campbell Trophy
S18 - Brett Slobodzian Trophy
S18 - Lemieux Trophy
S18 - Joe Malone Memorial Trophy
S18 - North American Conference All-Star
S19 - Continental Cup (with Calgary) 
S19 - Victory Cup (with Calgary) 
S19 - Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (with Calgary)
S19 - Francis Trophy
S19 - North American Conference All-Star
S20 - European Conference All-Star
S21 - European Conference All-Star

Season 14 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S14 (CGY) - 72GP / 30G / 48A / 78P / +8 / 41PIM / 49H / 330SH / 3GWG
Playoffs:
n/a

Virkkunen joined a Calgary team that had made the playoffs in the previous season, though that was more due to playing in a weak conference. As a whole, North America improved in Season 14, and the Wranglers found themselves outside of the postseason. Virkkunen's impact on the team, even in his first season, was a positive one, as he was just one of two players to finish with a positive rating for the Wranglers. His 30 goals was second on his team and second among rookies. Playing on Calgary's top line, he shared the rookie scoring title with Malcolm Kelly. Virkkunen did receive two votes in the Top Rookie ballot, but it was Emerson Hrynyk who took home the award. Regardless, it was a good start to a great career for Virkkunen.

Season 15 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S15 (CGY) - 72GP / 45G / 48A / 93P / -20 / 28PIM / 42H / 406SH / 1GWG
Playoffs:
n/a

Virkkunen put up better numbers in his sophomore season, but the supporting cast in Calgary did not offer enough help. The Wranglers fell to last in the conference, finishing with just 53 points. With Tuvia Bielski gone, Virkkunen was going to be expected to provide the bulk of the scoring, and he responded by netting 45 goals, which was good for sixth in the league. The trade of Alexander Sauve at the deadline only put more of the scoring pressure on him going forward. The Wranglers were essentially down to just Virkkunen and J.D. Stormwall, a Season 14 draftee, as reliable players in their system. It was going to take a few seasons to get some more pieces, but it was looking like these players would bring Calgary out of its rebuilding phase.

Season 16 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S16 (CGY) - 72GP / 45G / 55A / 100P / -5 / 37PIM / 73H / 395SH / 2GWG
Playoffs:
n/a

Virkkunen and Stormwall worked well together in Season 16, as they both scored over 40 goals for the Wranglers. Virkkunen continued to take plenty of shots, matching his goals total from the prior season. One of just seven players to reach the century mark in points that season, Virkkunen achieved the feat for the first time in his career. The Wranglers were getting ready to become a competitive club as they added the first overall selection Demetrjusz Dudek at goalie. On top of playing in his second All-Star Game, Virkkunen's respectability showed as he was awarded the Francis Trophy. He continued to show an improvement in skill and knowledge of the game that had Wrangler fans excited for the future.

Season 17 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S17 (CGY) - 72GP / 54G / 69A / 123P / +38 / 19PIM / 13H / 486SH / 7GWG
Playoffs:
n/a

Calgary added two very promising rookies, Lars Berger and Matthew Gunnarsson, to their squad in Season 17, and Virkkunen helped them transition into the VHL with ease. He once again led the Wranglers in goals, 54, and assists, 69, finishing fourth in the league with 124 points. As a team, Calgary scored 50 more goals than the prior season, and Virkkunen's offensive prowess was starting to come to life. The Wranglers were unable to compete with Toronto and Seattle and finished well outside of a playoff spot, but Virkkunen finished the season with a +38 rating. He won his second consecutive Francis Trophy, making him the first to win it in back-to-back seasons. Still, the end of the season marked the halfway point in his career, and he had not yet made an appearance in the playoffs. This was something that he was eager to change.

Season 18 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S18 (CGY) - 72GP / 65G / 82A / 147P / +65 / 56PIM / 53H / 527SH / 15GWG
Playoffs:
S18 (CGY) - 13GP / 7G / 9A / 16P / -2 / 2PIM / 10H / 69SH / 2GWG

When Season 18 started, everybody knew that the Wranglers would be making the playoffs along with the Americans. Virkkunen was poised to have the best season of his career, and that is arguably what he did. He was the league’s leading goal scorer, with long-time teammate J.D. Stormwall. With 82 assists, Virkkunen was also one of the three Wranglers to finish the season in the top four of that category. In all, Virkkunen had 147 points, a total which would be the peak of his career. His trophy cabinet would grow not only in quantity, but also in quality, as he took home both of the MVP awards, helping the Wranglers finish above New York in the regular season. He was relatively shaky in the first round of the playoffs, as he had games where he demonstrated incredible skill, as well as others where he looked like a rookie once again. Calgary did win the series in seven games, and Virkkunen improved his play in the Continental Cup Finals. He was in on a goal at least once in every game, finishing with three goals and six assists against the favored Madrid Thunder. It was Virkkunen, and rightfully so, who ended the series in game six with an overtime winner.

Season 19 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S19 (CGY) - 72GP / 48G / 54A / 102P / +52 / 28PIM / 33H / 428SH / 5GWG
Playoffs:
S19 (CGY) - 9GP / 3G / 5A / 8P / -1 / 0PIM / 4H / 41SH / 0GWG

An aging body prevented Virkkunen from repeating the success he had a season ago, but he was still a very valuable asset for the Wranglers, who finished the season with the Victory Cup. The team was very talented on both offense and defense, scoring the most goals and allowing the least. With several stars on the team, it was difficult for any single one, Virkkunen included, to shine much brighter than the rest. Tallying just 102 points, this marked the first season since his rookie year that he didn't lead the Wranglers in scoring. He would, however, bring home his third and final Francis Trophy, making him the first player to win it three times. The playoffs did not bring much of a challenge, as Calgary needed just nine games to win their second championship in as many seasons. Although he was not a major player in the postseason, the Wranglers were Virkkunen’s team, and he did a fantastic job leading them from the moment he joined them in Season 14.

Season 20 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S20 (RIG) - 72GP / 43G / 91A / 134P / +70 / 78PIM / 145H / 510SH / 7GWG
Playoffs:
S20 (RIG) - 7GP / 0G / 3A / 3P / -2 / 8PIM / 12H / 37SH / 0GWG

The retirements of several Wrangler stars steered management towards another rebuild. With just two seasons left in his career, Virkkunen was shipped out to Riga along with Stormwall. Season 20 produced a lot of high scoring, including two 70-goal scorers for the Reign. For most of his career, Virkkunen had been his team's primary scoring threat, yet his 43 goals this season was fourth on his team, but he provided help in the form of 91 assists. This would be a career-high for him, and it was the most in the league among forwards. The Reign went into the playoffs as the lower seed against the Dynamo, finishing three points behind them in the standings. Virkkunen's postseason struggles continued as he managed just three assists and was a -2 in the seven-game series. He did provide an assist on the only Reign goal in the deciding game as well as throwing three hits, but Riga fell to Davos.

Season 21 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S21 (RIG) - 72GP / 52G / 52A / 104P / +39 / 67PIM / 189H / 493SH / 9GWG
Playoffs:
S21 (RIG) - 6GP / 5G / 4A / 9P / +2 / 8PIM / 18H / 25SH / 0GWG

Riga lost a couple of their prominent scorers, but the team was still looking at a playoff spot in Season 21. Virkkunen upped his goal production to get back above 50 for the third time in his career. He also continued to develop as a physical player, delivering 189 hits, which was easily the highest of his career. He went from being nearly tied for last on his team in plus-minus a season ago to being tied for first. Although he wasn't the most vocal player on the team, Virkkunen provided a veteran presence for the Reign that was otherwise led by players still in the first half of their career. They did manage to repeat as Europe's regular season winners, once again facing Davos in the first round. The series ended in a six-game loss for Riga. He finished the playoffs with a positive rating for the first time in his career, and he scored nearly a goal per game. Unfortunately, the defeat would mean that he had just one game left to play in the VHL. In his seventh and final All-Star Game, Virkkunen scored a hat trick in a losing effort for the European team.

Career Totals:

Regular Season:
576GP / 382G / 499A / 881P / +247 / 354PIM / 597H / 3575SH / 49GWG

Playoffs:
35GP / 15G / 21A / 36P / -3 / 18PIM / 44H / 172SH / 2GWG

Mikka Virkkunen enters the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest scoring threats the VHL has ever seen, as shown by his place on the career stats lists. He fought through a rebuild in Calgary and played a prime role in helping the team capture back-to-back Continental Cups, a feat which was last achieved by the Season 4 and 5 Seattle Bears. When Virkkunen entered the league, he was already one of the best players on his team. Going back to his rookie season, he has also always been a great leader for the Wranglers. Whether he was on a winning team or not, you could always count on him to be on the leader boards. 

Edited by Bushito

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LW - J.D. Stormwall
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 210 lbs
Jersey Number: 13
Drafted: S14 CGY (1/5)
Username: Zero


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J.D. Stormwall was never the flashiest guy on the ice. He was very much a grinder for most of his career in the VHL. However, when he got a chance to make things happen with his stick, he never disappointed. For a stretch of three or four seasons, Stormwall played both ends of the ice as good as anybody who's ever played the game at any level. He could score a goal a game and dish out five times as many hits. He was never afraid to take a penalty to send a message, as he usually made up for any miscues on the penalty kill by scoring himself. For most of his career he played in Calgary, where he helped the team win two consecutive Continental Cups. He finished his time off with a memorable season in Riga, followed by another one in Toronto. He wasn't the catalyst for the success at the end, but he fell in as a role player and made sure his teams got where they needed to be. That ability to transform his game is what signifies that J.D. Stormwall belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Career Awards

S18 Continental Cup
S18 Howe Trophy
S18 Boulet Trophy
S18 All Star
S19 Continental Cup
S19 Boulet Trophy (with Marek Schultz)
S19 All Star
S20 Boulet Trophy
S20 All Star
S21 Continental Cup

S14 Statistics (VHL)

29 GP / 5-7-12 / -11 / 28 PIM / 42 Hits / 3 PPG / 0 GWG

S14 Statistics (VHLM)

43 GP / 23-38-61 / +19 / 48 PIM / 82 Hits / 8 PPG / 3 GWG

Stormwall began the season with the Wranglers, who had drafted him fifth overall in the past draft. However, Stormwall was not ready for the rigors of the big leagues, and he struggled mightily with the team. They were a rather mediocre squad overall, and the decision was made to remove Stormwall from the failing environment so as not to disrupt his future development, which was already taking quite a bit of damage from his struggles. He returned to Minot, where he showed a great deal of improvement from the season before. He still finished near the bottom of his team's scoring list, but he put up only nine fewer points in 29 fewer games. He continued to develop the physical side of his game while adding the scoring touch, averaging more hits per game than everybody on the team aside from the top hitter/scorer, VHLM stalwart Frank Ricard. The Gladiators failed to make the playoffs, but Stormwall had taken enough of a step forward to be able to leave the VHLM in his rear view for the remainder of his career.

S15 Statistics

72 GP / 25-24-49 / -29 / 142 PIM / 190 Hits / 8 PPG / 3 GWG

Now in his first full season with the Wranglers, Stormwall didn't set the league on fire. However, he did show that the hitting he developed in the minors would translate to the VHL rather well. He finished eighth in the league in hits, although he was well behind the leader, Davos' Leander Kaelin. He did finish fifth on his team in scoring, but that was a product of being on the offensively-challenged Wranglers, who struggled along to the tune of 22-43-7. Stormwall was an average player on a bad team, and at this point nobody considered him a future Hall of Famer. He did turn that around, although even that wasn't immediate.

S16 Statistics

72 GP / 41-34-75 / -2 / 189 PIM / 252 Hits / 7 PPG / 1 GWG

Stormwall's third season was a transitional one. The Wranglers had just drafted goaltender Demetrjusz Dudek first overall, and Mikka Virkkunen had become a bonafide star, but the team didn't have enough talent to take the next step into the playoffs and beyond. For his part, Stormwall began to come into his own as an offensive talent, topping forty goals for the first of five consecutive seasons. He also upped his already prolific hitting totals, finishing fifth in the VHL in hits (only two away from third place), while maintaining his rate of .75 penalty minutes per hit. The Wranglers did finish outside of the playoff picture again, but it wouldn't be long before Stormwall and his Calgary teammates were players in the title chase.

S17 Statistics

72 GP / 53-55-108 / +22 / 226 PIM / 221 Hits / 18 PPG / 3 GWG

Season Seventeen was Stormwall's breakout season in all aspects of the game. The career firsts for him this season included fifty goals and a hundred points, a positive plus/minus rating, and two hundred penalty minutes. He did see his hit total drop, but it was a small price to pay for finally adding the second dimension to his game. He did receive consideration for the Scott Boulet Trophy as the top two-way forward in the VHL, but he was not yet ready to take that award home. Calgary as a whole was greatly improved this season, but they had to wait one more season behind the juggernaut in Seattle and the highly efficient Toronto Legion before they could get their first taste of postseason action. It was something Stormwall would never again go without.

S18 Statistics

72 GP / 61-63-124 / +57 / 260 PIM / 314 Hits / 20 PPG / 8 GWG

Season Eighteen was, if not Stormwall's best season, certainly his most prolific. He set career highs in goals, power play goals, points, and penalty minutes while eclipsing the three hundred hit total for the first time in his career. Not surprisingly, this coincided with his first trip to the playoffs. The Wranglers, led by Virkkunen, Dudek, Alex Sauve, and rookie sensation Jardy Bunclewirth, took the postseason by storm. Their first series, against the heavily favored New York Americans, went the maximum seven games. In his first taste of playoff glory, Stormwall took home first star honors in the deciding game by scoring his team's first two goals in their 4-2 victory. In the finals, against the even more heavily favored Madrid Thunder, Stormwall's Wranglers shocked most of the VHL world by winning the series in six games. Stormwall wasn't a major factor at the end of the series, but for the playoffs he tallied sixteen points, including a league-high nine goals. For that, along with his influence in getting the team into the finals in the first place, Stormwall was awarded the Gordie Howe Trophy as Playoff MVP. He also, unsurprisingly, won his first of three consecutive Boulet Trophies, and earned his first All Star nod. It was definitely a sign of things to come for the winger as he entered his prime.

S19 Statistics

72 GP / 48-53-101 / +48 / 197 PIM / 283 Hits / 9 PPG / 7 GWG

Stormwall's sixth season saw him regress slightly, but saw his team maintain their greatness from the past season. Stormwall actually saw every single one of his statistics from the previous season drop, but nonetheless still managed to record a hundred point season while nearly eclipsing the fifty goal mark and maintaining a high number of hits, if not as high as the previous season. He actually finished third in the league in hits, only five behind goal scoring leader Marek Schultz. His offensive regression may have been in part due to the emergence of Jardy Bunclewirth as a legitimate star and the addition of defenders Matt Bailey and Ryley Dawson, thereby spreading the scoring around, but be as it may the Wranglers ended up in the playoffs as the overwhelming favorite to win the Continental Cup. Many Continental Cup favorites have a hangover from the regular season and struggle through the playoffs, but that was not the case with Calgary. Toronto managed a win against the team, but aside from that one hiccup Stormwall and the boys stormed through the playoffs in nine games en route to their second consecutive Cup. Stormwall excelled again in the playoffs, scoring three goals and ten points while, as usual, leading his team in hits with thirty. He even blocked seven shots, a high number for a forward. After the season, Stormwall didn't earn another Howe Trophy, but he did take home a second consecutive Boulet Trophy, this time shared with Marek Schultz. The season was an excellent swan song for Stormwall's tenure in Calgary, but he still had a couple seasons left in his legs.

S20 Statistics

72 GP / 53-65-118 / +107 / 174 PIM / 336 Hits / 11 PPG / 9 GWG

Before the beginning of the VHL's landmark Season Twenty, Stormwall said goodbye to his longtime home of Calgary, as he and his teammate Mikka Virkkunen were shipped off to the Riga Reign in the offseason. Big things were expected out of the Reign even before this trade, but after it happened they became instant favorites for the Continental Cup. The season saw a league-wide explosion in offense, as two of Stormwall's teammates, Tarik Saeijs and Max Kronenburg, joined his former teammate Lars Berger as seventy goal scorers. Stormwall found himself above fifty goals again, and he set career highs in assists and hits, but where he really excelled was in the plus/minus category, where he and several teammates became the first players in years to rise above the +100 barrier. Stormwall's +107 led the league and stands as a Reign team record. Unfortunately for him, that success didn't carry over into the playoffs. The Reign struggled throughout the series, but they did manage to take perennial rival Davos to seven games before falling. Like the rest of the team, Stormwall lacked the punch of previous playoff excursions, only managing two goals and two assists in the seven games. He did, however, see his regular season excellence rewarded with his third and final Boulet Trophy, this time without someone sharing in the award.

S21 Statistics

72 GP / 30-23-53 / +46 / 120 PIM / 227 Hits / 2 PPG / 4 GWG

After the season, Stormwall found himself as a free agent for the first time in his career. It was speculated that he would return to the Reign for his final season, but he decided to surprise many by heading over to Toronto to join the Legion for his final go-round. Personally, he showed his age by putting up his lowest numbers since his rookie season, although he did stay above the thirty goal mark. He did use this season to hit important career milestones, such as 300 goals and 600 points. He managed to keep his physical play up at this late stage of his career, keeping above 200 hits. He continued to struggle through the playoffs, recording only two points in twelve games while seeing his plus/minus rating fall to -6, while the rest of the team stayed at least at zero. However, he was a major factor in his final game. With his team trailing 3-2 with under five minutes remaining in the game, Stormwall netted a power play goal to even the score and send the game to overtime, where Calgary teammate Lars Berger won the Cup for the Legion. Stormwall closed out his career without winning any individual awards in his final season, but with his name ending up on the Continental Cup for the third of his final four campaigns.

VHL Career Totals

533 GP / 316-324-640 / +238 / 1,336 PIM / 1,865 Hits / 78 PPG / 35 GWG

J.D. Stormwall was the consummate champion in the VHL. While he struggled in the early part of his career, both with his play and his being overshadowed by higher-profile teammates, Stormwall stuck to his guns and eventually became a star in his own right. He overcame a slow start to top some of the VHL's most important career milestones while keeping up a very physical game that saw him win three Boulet Trophies. Most importantly, however, is the fact that his name can be found in three different places on the Continental Cup, all in a four-year stretch. He is an important figure in both the history of the Calgary Wranglers, for his leadership and skill, and in the VHL, where his intensity and offensive prowess formed a combination rarely seen in today's game. 

Edited by Bushito

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LW - Jardy Bunclewirth
Birthplace: Saskatoon, Canada
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 193 lbs
Jersey Number: 10
Drafted: S16 CGY (3/18)
Username: JardyB10


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As a first-generation player, nobody had high expectations for this special left winger from Canada. Yet, he never let that hold him back. He went all the way from being an uninspiring minor leaguer to winning multiple championships and being considered one of the best players ever to grace the ice of a VHL rink. During his career, Bunclewirth won seven individual awards, as well as seven team awards, proving that whenever he had success, so did his team. He made the players around him better throughout his six-year career in the VHL, which is the mark of a truly historic player. The fact that he was able to achieve this after being a first-generation player is inspiring to rookies everywhere, which is likely what he will be most remembered for.

Career Awards:

S18 - Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy
S18 - Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (with Calgary)
S18 - Continental Cup (with Calgary)
S19 - Scotty Campbell Trophy
S19 - Brett Slobodzian Trophy
S19 - Lemieux Trophy
S19 - Victory Cup (with Calgary)
S19 - Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (with Calgary)
S19 - Continental Cup (with Calgary)
S21 - Lemieux Trophy
S23 - Sam Pollock Memorial Trophy
S23 - Messier Trophy
S23 - Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (with Calgary)
S23 - Continental Cup (with Calgary)

Season 16 Statistics: (VHLM)

Regular season:
S16 (MIN) - 72GP / 14G / 30A / 44P / +14 / 23PIM / 38H / 18SB

Playoffs:
S16 (MIN) - 12GP / 3G / 3A / 6P / -2 / 5PIM / 5H / 3SB

Bunclewirth was selected with the 18th overall pick in the Season 16 VHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Wranglers. This would be an ominous selection for every other team in the league as out of every player selected in that draft, he was the only one who would have a truly successful career in the VHL. After signing his entry-level contract with Calgary, he was assigned to the Minot Gladiators of the VHLM for further seasoning. In his first full season with Minot, he tallied 44 points in 72 games, a +14 +/- rating, and 23 penalty minutes. Certainly, these numbers are disappointing for any player, but it did mark significant improvement from the season before and was a huge step in the right direction as Bunclewirth continued to improve. On top of playing in his first full season in the VHLM, he made the playoffs for the first time and for a young player, he was solid. In 12 playoff games, he scored six points, helping the Gladiators win the Prime Minister's Cup, awarded to the team in the VHLM with the best regular season record. That season, the Gladiators were able to take the Founder's Cup finals all the way to game season, before succumbing to the Gothenburg Eagles, 4-3.

Season 17 Statistics: (VHLM)

Regular season:
S17 (MIN) - 72GP / 69G / 81A / 150P / +45 / 70 PIM / 96H / 20SB

Playoffs:
S17 (MIN) - 7GP / 8G / 5A / 13P / -3 / 4PIM / 11H / 2SB

After two disappointing seasons to begin his career in the VHLM, Bunclewirth exploded in season 17. In 72 games, he tallied 150 points, a +45 rating, 70 penalty minutes, 96 hits, and 20 blocked shots. If anybody had any doubts that he would become a serious player before this season, he proved them wrong and showed that he had the potential to become a superstar. As just a second-year player, he also managed to tie for the team lead in points with Frank Ricard, a career minor leaguer. Bunclewirth also teamed up with Pekka Jarmuth and Rhett Gouldhawke to form one of the scariest top lines in the VHLM that season. That season, Minot finished with a record of 54-15-3, which was the best record of any team in the league. Heading into the playoffs, the Gladiators were leaning on Bunclewirth to be their star and he delivered, recording 13 points, a -3, and 11 hits in the seven games the team played. Despite his impressive output, Minot lost in seven games to the Ottawa Ice Dogs, the eventual Founder's Cup champions that season.

Season 18 Statistics:

Regular season:
S18 (CGY) - 72GP / 54G / 78A / 132P / +60 / 34 PIM / 46H / 21SB

Playoffs:
S18 (CGY) - 13GP / 3G / 11A / 14P / +7 / 2PIM / 9H / 3SB

Bunclewirth entered the history books officially in season 18, managing to put together the most impressive rookie season of all-time. In 72 games with the Calgary Wranglers, he scored 132 points and finished with a +60 +/- rating, 34 penalty minutes, 46 hits, and 21 blocked shots. While he continued to be mediocre on offense, he also managed to become one of the most prolific scorers in the league right out of the gates. Playing on line with fellow Hall of Famer JD Stormwall, as well Juha Ikonen, Bunclewirth helped form what quickly became one of the scariest lines in the league. Out of the three of them, only Ikonen failed to score 120 points. Bunclewirth also managed to be second on the team in scoring behind Mikka Virkkunnen and third in the league in scoring, behind Virkkunen and David Henman, both of whom are Hall of Famers. Much like with Minot, Bunclewirth was able to help propel the Wranglers into the playoffs with the team finishing with a 55-13-4 record, second-best in the league. In 13 playoff games, he tallied 14 points, a +7, and nine hits, continuing his successful rookie season. Pitted against the Madrid Thunder in the Continental Cup finals, the Wranglers were able to win in six games, giving Bunclewirth his first ever Continental Cup championship. He would also later be named the recipient of the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy, awarded to the top rookie.

Season 19 Statistics:

Regular season:
S19 (CGY) - 72GP / 45G / 75A / 120P / +44 / 88PIM / 152H / 35SB

Playoffs:
S19 (CGY) - 9GP / 5G / 5A / 10P / +5 / 38PIM / 23H / 2SB

Season 19 was an important season for Bunclewirth as this was the year he changed from being a purely offensive player to being able to be a very strong two-way player. In 72 games, he scored 120 points, a +44 +/- rating, 88 penalty minutes, 152 hits, and 35 blocked shots. With the 152 hits, he was finally able to show that he was not just a one-way player and that he could be a star on either end. On top of this, he was able to lead the team and the league in point scored as a second line player. He finished three points above his teammate Matt Bailey, which earned him the Lemieux Trophy, awarded to the player with the most points in the regular season. He would follow up his sophomore season by leading the Wranglers to the playoffs once again. In nine games, he finished with 10 points, 38 penalty minutes, and 23 hits, proving to the doubters that he was indeed a forced to be reckoned with on both offense and defense. Under the leadership of himself, Lars Berger, Matt Bailey, J.D. Stormwall, Mikka Virkkunen, and Zach Voss, the Wranglers were able to win their second straight Continental Cup. However, after this season, the Wranglers entered a re-build and out of all of those players, only Bunclewirth returned to the team for season 20. Following the season, he was awarded both the Scotty Campbell Trophy, given to the Most Valuable Player as voted by the General Manager's and the Brett Slobodzian Trophy, given to the Most Valuable Player as voted by the players.

Season 20 Statistics:

Regular season:
S20 (CGY) - 72GP / 61G / 69A / 130P / -16 / 176PIM / 278H / 137SB

Playoffs:
n/a

Despite missing the playoffs for the first time in his VHL career, Bunclewirth managed to have an MVP-worthy type season. In 72 games, he tallied 130 points, a -16 +/-, 176 penalty minutes, 278 hits, and 137 blocked shots. Much like his hit total the season before, he improved his shot blocking totals by over a 100. While he managed to prove that he was indeed a two-way player in season 19, he was able to continue his ascent into one of the best two-way players of all-time in season 20. Around him, the team was struggling to compete with just him, Matthew Gunnarsson, and a bunch of rookies, as the Wranglers would finish with a record of 17-52-3, the second worst record in the league. While the team was terrible, he was still able to be a veteran presence on a squad needing them, as he mentored Roman Andreev and Mathias Chouinard as they looked to create a name for themselves just as he had two seasons prior. While the success was not immediate for this trio, it would come in just a few seasons.

Season 21 Statistics:

Regular season:
S21 (CGY) - 72GP / 59G / 77A / 136P / +9 / 108PIM / 243H / 52SB

Playoffs:
n/a

Once again, Bunclewirth turned in another MVP-worthy season in season 21. He managed to tally 136 points, a +9 (the only positive +/- on the team), 108 penalty minutes, 243 hits, and 52 blocked shots. While he regressed in terms of how many shots he blocked, it is hard to knock his output. He dominated on offense and on defense for the third season in a row. While his shots blocked went down, he was still dominate on defense, laying down numerous hits per game and he was also able to prevent the opposing team from scoring when he was on the ice, as evidenced by his positive +/-. By managing a positive rating, he cemented his status as a superstar two-way forward in the league. Bunclewirth's 136 points in season 21 were also good enough for the league lead, giving him his second Lemieux Trophy. The Wranglers finished the season in third place in the North American division with a record of 25-44-3.

Season 22 Statistics:

Regular season:
S22 (CGY) - 72GP / 35G / 51A / 86P / +21 / 83PIM / 221H / 22SB

Playoffs:
S22 (CGY) - 7GP / 0G / 5A / 5P / 0 / 14PIM / 16H / 1SB

Even though season 22 will be remembered as Bunclewirth's fall from dominance, he still managed to tally 86 points, along with a +21, 83 penalty minutes, 221 hits, and 22 blocked shots. So, while he did not have his normal offensive output, he was still the same old Jardy defensively. This season, however, was the season in which he allowed two of his successors, Mathias Chouinard and Evgeni Fyodorov, to take over. Both of those players learned from Bunclewirth in the season's previous and it was made clear that they soaked in everything he taught them as they both out-scored their mentor. While this is not an area that can be recorded by a number, Bunclewirth's outreach to his young members could very well be his defining characteristic as a player. Despite his step back in season 22, the Wranglers managed to finish 44-20-8, earning them second place in the conference and a spot in the playoffs. However, they would wind up losing to the Toronto Legion in seven games. Bunclewirth managed to record five points, 14 penalty minutes, and 16 hits, in those seven games.

Season 23 Statistics:

Regular season:
S23 (CGY) - 72GP / 37G / 48A / 85P / +26 / 121PIM / 290H / 12SB

Playoffs:
S23 (CGY) - 12GP / 1G / 1A / 2P / 0 / 24PIM / 47H / 9SB

Like many players before him, Bunclewirth became more and more defensive as his career went on and his numbers in season 23 show this. He recorded 85 points, a +26, 290 hits, and 12 blocked shots. Yet, despite not breaking the 100 point barrier for the second straight season, he was still able to remain a force on defense, setting his career-high for hits in a season. Much like the season before, his true worth was once again off-the-ice, as he continued to mentor Evgeni Fyodorov and Mathias Chouinard as the duo headed into free agency together the following season. While his final regular season in the VHL was a downer for him personally, the playoffs were anything but. Sure, he struggled to get going offensively, recording just two points in the 12 games played by Calgary, but he still managed to be a defensive force, tallying 47 hits. He also was the true leader on the ice for the Wranglers, helping to guide them all the way to the Continental Cup against the Helsinki Titans. After falling down 3-2 to the Titans, the Wranglers won game six, bringing the series to three-all. In game seven, fittingly enough, Bunclewirth was able to score the game-winning goal in the first period, giving him his third Continental Cup. Following the season, he was given the Messier Trophy for top leader, as well as the Sam Pollock Memorial Trophy for top executive.

Career Totals:

Regular season:
432GP / 291G / 398A / 689P / +144 / 610PIM / 1230H / 279SB

Playoffs:
41GP / 12G / 22A / 34P / +12 / 78PIM / 95H / 15SB

From Season 18 to Season 21, Bunclewirth was dominant. If there were any players in the league better than him, there were not many of them. He was named the Most Valuable Player once, won the Lemieux Trophy twice, and the Continental Cup three times. During this run, he was also the General Manager of the Calgary Wranglers and on both the playing and management front, he was superb. Yes, he fell off a bit at the end, but every player regresses when their career winds down and their outputs will suffer as a result, but what separated him from many others is the indelible mark he left on this franchise and its players. Numbers are forgotten, but inspiration, and ability to lead is never forgotten. He will forever be remembered as a superstar on and off the ice. If anybody deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, it is Bunclewirth.

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G - CAL G

Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 205 lbs.

Jersey Number: 69

Drafted: S25 CGY (via GM Rule)

Username: JardyB10

 

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CAL G came into the league as one of the more anticipated goaltenders of the post-Aidan Shaw era. Created by then-Calgary General Manager Jardy Bunclewirth as a Season 25 player, the player’s name was a bit of a joke about what he would be to the organization for the long term. Ironically, CAL G ended up playing no games in Calgary. Instead, he played out his first year of VHL eligibility in the VHLM and then saw his rights shipped to Seattle for a package of picks (one of which ended up being Hall-of-Famer Phil Rafter). CAL G now sits sixth in career wins despite less games played than everyone above him and many below him, and has the fourth best save percentage along with the best Goals Against Average in league history. One of the best goaltenders in the VHL’s storied history, CAL G gets his dues today with a Hall-of-Fame induction.
 
Career Awards:

S24 Founder's Cup (Saskatoon)
S24 Sawchuk Trophy (Top VHLM Goaltender)
S25 Founder's Cup (Saskatoon)
S25 Sawchuk Trophy (Top VHLM Goaltender)
S26 Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy (Top Rookie)
S27 Victory Cup (Seattle)
S28 Continental Cup (Seattle)
S28 Victory Cup (Seattle)
S28 Daisuke Kanou Trophy (Playoff MVP; shared with Felix Peters)
S29 Scotty Campbell Trophy (VHL MVP)
S29 Aidan Shaw Trophy (Top VHL Goaltender)

Season 25 Statistics (VHLM):

Regular Season: Saskatoon Wild [VHLM] 72 GP / 59-8-4 / 0.920 SV / 2.20 GAA / 2 SO
Postseason: Saskatoon Wild [VHLM] 10 GP / 8-2-0 / 0.907 SV / 2.65 GAA / 1 SO

CAL G was drafted third overall in the Season 24 VHLM Dispersal Draft by the Saskatoon Wild. On a roster that was bolstered by Gunnar Axelson’s ridiculous 185-goal season with strong contributions, CAL G won the Sawchuk that year as the VHLM’s top goalie and the team easily won the Founder's Cup, but he surprised many by choosing to stay down in the VHLM for his first year of VHL eligibility rather than ascend to the Calgary Wranglers’ top netminder position. With CAL G and Vladimir Boomchenko returning, the Wild looked like strong favorites to repeat. Also adding the services of future Hall-of-Famer Jarvis Baldwin, Saskatoon was able to finish with the VHLM’s best record for the second consecutive season. CAL G once again won the Sawchuk Trophy as he established himself as the only elite young netminder in the minors. In the postseason, the Wild had little trouble, winning both of their series’ 4-1 despite a less resolute postseason effort from the hyped goaltender. Going into the VHL as only the third multi-Sawchuk winning goaltender in VHLM history, expectations were high for CAL G.
 
Season 26 Statistics:

Regular Season: Seattle Bears 64 GP / 47-12-5 / 0.912 SV / 2.15 GAA / 11 SO
Postseason: Seattle Bears 6 GP / 2-4-0 / 0.903 SV / 2.64 GAA / 1 SO

Following a franchise-shaping offseason deal between Seattle and Calgary to send CAL G to the Bears, there were a lot of expectations for the Saskatoon product in net with a massively talented roster in front of him. G responded with a league-leading 11 shutouts, while finishing fourth in the league in save percentage and third in Goals Against Average. The Bears, who had gone 25-38-9 in the previous season, finished with 109 points in the standings as six different players accounted for at least 100 points. In the postseason Seattle faltered on the back of a poor effort from CAL G, but his great regular season was enough to net him the Stolzschweiger Trophy as the league’s top rookie. It was becoming increasingly clear that a star was rising in the VHL.
 
Season 27 Statistics:

Regular Season: Seattle Bears 65 GP / 53-8-4 / 0.928 SV / 1.60 GAA / 19 SO
Postseason: Seattle Bears 7 GP / 3-3-1 / 0.918 SV / 2.32 GAA / 1 SO

CAL G had easily the greatest season for a VHL goaltender that wasn’t named the league’s top goaltender. His 19 shutouts remain a league record today, as does his 1.60 GAA. It seems pretty ridiculous nowadays to see that Andreas Bjorkman’s save percentage being .003% higher could trump these records en route to an Aidan Shaw Trophy win. CAL G led Seattle to a Victory Cup in Season 27 as the league’s winningest team, but the team was shocked by the New York Americans in the North American Conference Championship 4-3. G played well in the series, but many were beginning to doubt his ability to lead a team after a second consecutive first round loss.
 
Season 28 Statistics:

Regular Season: Seattle Bears 62 GP / 49-11-1 / 0.921 SV / 1.75 GAA / 8 SO
Postseason: Seattle Bears 13 GP / 8-5-0 / 0.917 SV / 2.03 GAA / 1 SO

After a record-setting season, CAL G took a bit of a step back but still produced a fantastic season. For a second straight year, Seattle managed a Victory Cup win, solidifying them as one of the premier teams of the late-Season-20’s. Of course, this era is known for the advent of cross-over, a system that allowed three teams from one conference to make the playoffs (back when there were still only four in each conference) if the other conference only had one deserving team. It’s a system that was short-lived, as VHL expansion took away the need for it, but it created interesting match-ups, including CAL G’s first ever postseason showdown against his former Calgary Wranglers. Led by rookie Marius Henchoz, Calgary nearly stole the series, but CAL G instead picked up his first VHL postseason series victory 4-3 to set up a rematch against the New York Americans, who had eliminated the Bears in the playoffs a season ago. This time, Seattle prevailed 4-2 to win the league’s Continental Cup, while CAL G shared the Daisuke Kanou Trophy as the league’s postseason MVP with teammate Felix Peters for his efforts.
 
Season 29 Statistics:

Regular Season: Seattle Bears 64 GP / 43-15-6 / 0.932 SV / 1.70 GAA / 10 SO
Postseason: Seattle Bears 7 GP / 3-3-1 / 0.881 SV / 2.98 GAA / 0 SO

CAL G bred a lot of expectations following his leading Seattle to a Cup in Season 28, and boy did he deliver. After a major snub for the Aidan Shaw Trophy two seasons back, CAL G was able to claim the trophy as the top VHL goaltender for the first time in his career with a fantastic year, taking his game to such a new level that he was ultimately crowned regular season MVP. Still, Seattle took a bit of a step back, following behind the upstart Toronto Legion in the chase for the top record in the North American Conference. Against Davos in the first round of the postseason, CAL G played uncharacteristically poor, and Seattle found themselves bounced in the first round for the third time in four years.
 
Season 30 Statistics:

Regular Season: Seattle Bears 64 GP / 40-16-8 / 0.922 SV / 1.97 GAA / 3 SO
Postseason: Seattle Bears 12 GP / 7-5-0 / 0.927 SV / 1.94 GAA / 1 SO

Seattle was able to ascend once more to the top of the North American Conference in an era that was extremely low on scoring. CAL G didn’t perform as great in Season 30 as he did the year before but was still an instrumental piece in Seattle’s success. Still holding a grudge over the Season 27 playoff defeat, the Bears dominated New York in the first round of the postseason 4-1, setting up an epic finale between two North American teams, as CAL G went in to face Calgary once again. A match-up with a ton of great narratives (although CAL G1 would unfortunately never see the net for the Wranglers), it was an extremely hard fought and close match-up that proved one of the greatest finals series’ in VHL history. Calgary asserted themselves with a 3-1 lead before the Bears won a huge game five in triple overtime. Following a CAL G shutout to even the series at three, Marius Henchoz put up a shutout of his own in game seven to secure another Bears disappointment. G had his best postseason performance in his career, but it wasn’t quite enough to hold off the upstart Wranglers.
 
Season 31 Statistics:

Regular Season: Seattle Bears/Vasteras Iron Eagles 56 GP / 27-25-4 / 0.930 SV / 2.28 GAA / 8 SO 

It became abundantly clear that Seattle no longer had the roster to compete with the new-guard in the North American Conference. In 36 games in Seattle, CAL G had a 16-17-3 record despite a fantastic 0.934 save percentage. Seattle then chose to blow up the whole thing, sending G, Jarvis Baldwin and Genghis Khan to Vasteras for four players and four picks. In Vasteras, CAL G played only 20 of the last 36 games, as the team was looking to give playing time to young goaltender Vincent Vega as well, but in his 20 starts G helped Vasteras to 11 of their 24 wins on the year. After years of being regarded as a franchise goaltender, CAL G had fallen back to playing a gatekeeper role, despite his immense talents clearly still being intac
 
Season 32 Statistics:

Regular Season: Vasteras Iron Eagles 64 GP / 44-13-6 / 0.934 SV / 1.79 GAA / 9 SO
Postseason: Vasteras Iron Eagles 7 GP / 3-4-0 / 0.911 SV / 2.72 GAA / 0 SO

It was clear that Vasteras made the move to add CAL G and Jarvis Baldwin with an eye towards Season 32 rather than Season 31. Vincent Vega had fallen out of favor with the organization, allowing CAL G to reclaim his rightful place as a full-time netminder, and he played exceptionally. One of five goaltenders to finish with a save percentage over 0.925 and one of three to go over 0.930, Season 32 was defined by franchise goaltenders, as a performance on the level of CAL G’s in Season 32 could bring in an Aidan Shaw Trophy in almost any other season. Vasteras finished the year with 104 points, although that was only good for third in the European Conference, and the team lost in seven in the first round against the upstart Helsinki Titans in CAL G’s final VHL game.
 
Career Stats:

Regular Season: 439 GP / 303-100-34 / 0.926 SV / 1.88 GAA / 68 SO
Postseason: 52 GP / 26-24-2 / 0.913 SV / 2.33 GAA / 4 SO

CAL G may have only won one Continental Cup, but even at his worst he was still easily in the discussion as one of the top four goaltenders in the VHL. Stick him in nearly any other era, and his Aidan Shaw trophy collection would likely include three wins rather than one. He still holds the single season shutout and GAA records, and held the career shutout record until Alexander Labatte passed him by one. Overall, CAL G is one of the league’s truly elite goalies, putting him up there with the likes of Aidan Shaw, Daisuke Kanou, Labatte, and Benjamin Glover, and perhaps very few others.

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D - Alexander Sauve
Birthplace: Bern, Switzerland
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 225 lbs
Jersey Number: 89
Drafted: S13 CGY (1/1)
Username: Sauvé89/WHEELsavePARTY

 

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It took Alexander Sauve an exceedingly long time to be inducted into the VHL Hall of Fame. In fact, as of the Season 35 Hall of Fame induction, the fifteen seasons between retirement and induction that Sauve spent in limbo is the longest by any Hall of Fame inductee. Partially to blame is the various ballot organisers' failure to originally put Sauve, one of the best defencemen of his time, on the Hall of Fame ballot in the first place. By the time Sauve was recognised in this fashion, the era he played on was long forgotten and the Swiss blue-liner went on to be overlooked for years. In fact, the second decade of the VHL, especially its start, is generally what seems to be the “lost” generation of the league, a time when the VHL experienced its worst seasons in terms of activity and individual stand-outs. It wasn't yet the modern, more sophisticated age of talent and understanding of how things worked, nor was it the vintage, record-making, so distant and thus intriguing first decade. Some, however, prospered even then, and Alexander Sauve was definitely one of those.

Drafted first overall as the consensus top pick in an extremely shallow draft, Sauve was virtually the only prospect who made VHLers stop at the S13 draft and not move on quickly with the hype of the incoming S14 draft. For good reason this, as the double-award winner from the VHLM would go on to live up to his top billing and was the lottery ticket the Calgary Wranglers needed in a very bleak time of their franchise history.

Career Awards:

S13 North American All-Star
S14 North American All-Star
S15 Sterling Labatte Trophy
S15 North American All-Star
S16 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (with Toronto)
S16 North American All-Star
S17 Victory Cup (with Toronto)
S18 Continental Cup (with Calgary)
S18 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (with Calgary)
S18 North American All-Star
S19 Continental Cup (with Calgary)
S19 Victory Cup (with Calgary)
S19 Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy (with Calgary)

Season 13 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S13 (CGY) - 72GP / 20G / 44A / 64P / -23 / 176PIM / 183H / 181SB / 174SH / 3GWG
Playoffs:
S13 (CGY) - 4GP / 1G / 3A / 4P / -3 / 8PIM / 15H / 16SB / 9SH / 0GWG

It was never going to be easy, instantly becoming the Wranglers' franchise player, but Sauve acclimatised well to the VHL conditions in his first season. The old go-to player, Matt Bentz, also the team's GM, was retiring and was traded to the ultimately cup-winning HC Davos Dynamo, leaving a gaping hole where the Season 12 VHL top goal-scorer and future Hall of Famer used to reside. Fellow top pick (in S11) and yet another future Hall of Fame inductee Leander Kaelin struggled to adapt to life without his linemate and ended up in Davos too close to the trade deadline, netting the enigmatic Pekka Hart in return. Hart, alongside the other bright lights in Calgary, Sauve and goaltender Jonas Markstrom, spurred on the Wranglers to an unexpected second playoff appearance in three seasons, just four points ahead of the equally sputtering Toronto Legion. As in Season 11, it was ultimately futile for Calgary as they were swept aside by the considerably stronger New York Americans. Hart put up a strong fight, as did the impressive rookie Sauve, but it wasn't enough. A strong first impression was made, but it wasn't enough for the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy either, as Sauve fell to the higher points production of Seattle's rookie defenceman Cameron Stephens.

Season 14 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S14 (CGY) - 72GP / 27G / 44A / 71P / -16 / 187PIM / 191H / 195SB / 264SH / 6GWG
Playoffs:
n/a

Youth was further injected into the lineup when Bentz's new prospect Mikka Virkkunen and fifth overall pick J.D. Stormwall joined Calgary in Sauve's sophomore season. This improvement, however, was minimal and the Legion leapt over the Wranglers into the second playoff spot, amidst an increasing fall in activity in Alberta, including by their previously enthusiastic GM. Sauve did everything he could, now as a team veteran, improving in every statistical facet of note and even joining the management staff, but it was all for naught from a team perspective. Sauve's first major role on the GM front came in an unwanted fashion, as he and Bentz were forced to trade away pending free agent Pekka Hart to the rival Legion for essentially nothing. Sauve was well and truly thrust into the leading role on Calgary and though he delivered all he could individually, the supporting cast was less than satisfactory.

Season 15 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S15 (CGY) - 61GP / 30G / 55A / 85P / -13 / 138PIM / 171H / 153SB / 322SH / 5GWG
S15 (TOR) - 13GP / 5G / 11A / 16P / +3 / 28PIM / 25H / 22SB / 47SH / 0GWG
S15 (TOT) - 74GP / 35G / 66A / 101P / -10 / 166PIM / 196H / 175SB / 369SH / 5GWG
Playoffs:
n/a

With franchise netminder Jonas Markstrom departing through free agency, the Wranglers continued their downward spiral. Strangely enough, however, this did not affect the individual performances as Sauve, along fellow future Hall of Famers Virkkunen and Stormwall, continued the offensive production and improvement worthy of a better cause. Sauve seemed to think so too, as by the end of his career season, he started considering the free agent route like his predecessor stars. The slick defender's excellent offensive play did interest several potential suitors, including conference rivals New York and Toronto. In a bidding role which ultimately benefited Calgary more than anyone else, Sauve somewhat controversially went on to the Legion, a team built from the back. Reduced from the role of main creator and producer, Sauve's stats took a dip in his brief cameo with Toronto, but he still was one of just five players to finish the season with more than 100 points. His two-way play didn't deteriorate either and Sauve took his first, though ultimately only, individual award in the VHL by winning the Sterling Labatte Trophy as the league's best defenceman. However, he remained in search of his first playoff win as the Legion couldn't make a late push for the playoffs and missed out in a stacked North American Conference.

Season 16 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S16 (TOR) - 72GP / 24G / 48A / 72P / +36 / 86PIM / 149H / 112SB / 296SH / 3GWG
Playoffs:
S16 (TOR) - 14GP / 1G / 7A / 8P / +2 / 25PIM / 25H / 25SB / 35SH / 0GWG

The concerning fall of production after the trade proved to be more than a failure to quickly adapt to new surroundings, as Sauve regressed in his first full season in Toronto. However, he was now part of a cup contender, with the Legion becoming involved in a battle for conference supremacy with the Seattle Bears following the firesale in New York. With a defence featuring some of the league's best in David Henman and Noah Lefevre, alongside rookie Ondrej Skokan Jr., and an offensive core solidified with a productive off-season, Toronto had all the pieces to finally make their mark on the league after a prolonged rebuild. In the regular season this didn't come though, with some underwhelming individual performances and a step behind leading point-getters in Riga and Seattle. Nonetheless, with a roster filled with, like Sauve, players hungry for playoff success, the Legion overcame the Bears in a exhilarating seven-game duel, setting up yet another against the Reign. The finals were a close affair with each player giving all they could, but there would only be one winner, and Toronto came on the wrong side of a pivotal Game 7.

Season 17 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S17 (TOR) - 72GP / 22G / 65A / 87P / +28 / 77PIM / 103H / 102SB / 263SH / 6GWG
Playoffs:
S17 (TOR) - 7GP / 2G / 3A / 5P / +1 / 8PIM / 9H / 19SB / 23SH / 1GWG

The playoff success and especially defeat spurred the Legion on, as in an off-season of change they fully caught up with the Bears on paper. The defence suffered the tough loss of captain Noah Lefevre to retirement but this just spurred on Henman and Sauve to improve on their previous seasons. Both delivered, though Sauve still didn't seem to be meeting his full potential, but with the additions of star forwards Brandon Rush and Carl Jacobs up front, Toronto grew into a powerhouse. They narrowly defeated Seattle during the season, gaining four extra points to take home the Victory Cup. The North American Conference finals were bound to produce the champion against a weakened European Conference, and they delivered finals-like performance over seven unmissable games. The Legion, however, ultimately let themselves down as they wasted a 2-1 series lead and lost three of the last four games, all in overtime, including a devastating Game 7 loss. Age caught up to both teams and they would be forced to rebuild, but while the Bears easily swept the Reign, Toronto's S16 conquerors, in the finals, the Legion were left with nothing to show for their efforts.

Season 18 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S18 (CGY) - 72GP / 38G / 92A / 130P / +62 / 108PIM / 134H / 110SB / 350SH / 6GWG
Playoffs:
S18 (CGY) - 13GP / 4G / 16A / 20P / +1 / 40PIM / 29H / 38SB / 46SH / 1GWG

Firesales by both Seattle and Toronto meant a changing of the guard in all senses around the league. The Madrid Thunder and New York Americans were seen as the new favourites, making the most trades to stock up their rosters. Sauve's old team, the Wranglers, were quiet, hit by the announcement that their franchise goaltender Demetrjusz Dudek would retire at the end of just his third season, and failed to improve their defence. Their lone transaction was the trade for Sauve, but they were relative outsiders in the cup chase. Sauve had other plans though. Returning to the team where he was always at his best rejuvenated the now veteran defenceman and alongside old teammates, now bonafide VHL stars, Virkkunen and Stormwall, he proceeded to tear the league up offensively. Going by the mantra that the offence is the best defence, Calgary had four of the top five league scorers, Sauve on of them with a career year. He was just five assists and three points back of old teammate David Henman (now on Madrid) at the end of the season, but it was ultimately decided that small margin would rob Sauve of a second Labatte Trophy. Sauve would have his revenge in the playoffs, as he led the whole postseason in scoring with 20 points, more than good enough for playoff MVP in most other pre-expansion seasons. Sauve led the scoring force of the Wranglers in a defeat of the Americans in seven games before setting up the finals against the heavily-favoured Thunder. A surprise 2-0 lead was cancelled out by Madrid before Calgary shockingly won two more to pull off a great upset, giving every single member of the team their first Continental Cup. Sauve added a much desired trophy to his list, though his 5-goal deficit to captain Stormwall ultimately cost him the Howe Trophy. This was an insignificance though after such a tremendous season.

Season 19 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S19 (CGY) - 72GP / 24G / 58A / 82P / +47 / 86PIM / 124H / 116SB / 236SH / 2GWG
Playoffs:
S19 (CGY) - 9GP / 3G / 3A / 6P / -3 / 14PIM / 20H / 21SB / 23SH / 1GWG

The Wranglers went from underdogs to clear-cut favourites over the off-season, as Madrid and New York rebuilt, while Calgary replaced Dudek with reigning top goaltender Zach Voss (who would win another Tretiak in S19) and added defensive help in free agency with the signing of veterans Matt Bailey and Ryley Dawson. As was the case in Toronto, Sauve didn't fare as well on a more star-studded blue line and was eventually overshadowed by his two new teammates, with his age also now playing a factor. This still didn't mean he produced a terrible season by any standards, continue to play an important role in a not-as-easy-as-perceived but still well-deserved regular season triumph. The Wranglers' crowning moment came in the playoffs though, when they walked over the Toronto Legion and HC Davos Dynamo, soon-to-be dynasties, in a mere nine games in total, a still-standing VHL record. In scoring, Sauve was once again behind Dawson and leading playoff scorer and top defenceman Bailey, but it's key not to underestimate the power of this three-man veteran defence. Sauve ended his career on a historic back-to-back champion team, on which he showed both his career qualities; individual brilliance and strong teamwork.

Career Totals:

Regular Season:

506GP / 190G / 417A / 607P / +124 / 886PIM / 1080H / 991SB / 1952SH / 31GWG

Playoffs:

47GP / 11G / 32A / 43P / -2 / 95PIM / 98H / 119SB / 136SH / 2GWG

When Sauve, Bailey, Dawson, and Voss all retired after Season 19, it was too much for the Wranglers to cope and they went into a rebuild, before winning it all again in Season 23. That would be a season where Sauve could have been inducted into the Hall of Fame if he had been on the ballot, but he wasn't, and he took longer to be recognised. His Seasons 15 and 18 showed he was not a mere flash in the pan, and he was a regular on the North American All-Star team. The other five seasons of his career were consistently strong and he never had less than 70 points, 100 hits or 100 blocked shots, as good an example of two-way play as any. Sauve ended his career just nine blocked shots away from the prestigious 1000 hits/1000 blocked shots club, but it was of course close enough to be considered an equal to some of the greats who inhabit it. It took long enough, but the wait was worth it, and it is great to see Alexander Sauve's name forever enshrined in the VHL Hall of Fame.

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C - Alexander Chershenko
Birthplace: Donetsk, Ukraine
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 200 lbs
Jersey Number: 11
Drafted: S27 CGY (1/2)
Username: 
alfie forever/Victor

 

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Going into the Season 27 draft, many were anticipating it to be the next super draft, similar to Season 18. While this draft did not pan out as many may have expected, and there were certainly players like Kraphf Dringus who didn’t meet the high expectations, there were also players who will be remembered well in the VHL’s history. Alexander Chershenko is one of these players. Chershenko, who played his entire career with the Calgary Wranglers and New York Americans (along with a short pit stop in Davos), was one of the league’s hardest-working players as well as one of its most well-known during his career.

Career Awards:

S27 Named to VHL All-Star Game
S28 Named to VHL All-Star Game
S29 Joe Malone Memorial Trophy
S29 Named to VHL All-Star Game
S30 Howe Trophy
S30 Contintental Cup (with Calgary)
S30 Named to VHL All-Star Game
S31 Brett Slobodzian Trophy
S31 Joe Malone Memorial Trophy
S31 Named to VHL All-Star Game
S32 Continental Cup (with New York)
S32 Named to VHL All-Star Game
S33 Grimm Jonsson Trophy
S33 Named to VHL All-Star Game
S34 Scotty Campbell Trophy
S34 Brett Slobodzian Trophy
S34 Daisuke Kanou Trophy
S34 Mike Szatkowski Trophy
S34 Kevin Brooks Trophy
S34 Named to VHL All-Star Game

Season 27:

 

Regular Season (CGY) – 72 GP | 34 G | 50 A | 84 P | -43

After scoring 121 points with the powerhouse Vasteras IK J-20 in the VHLM, Chershenko’s ability resulted in him being considered one of the top prospects in what appeared to be a very strong draft. Following the GM change in Davos, Swedish goaltender Satan was selected first overall, leaving Chershenko, who was considered by many a future superstar, to fall to the Calgary Wranglers at second overall. The Ukrainian center was able to fit in well as the team’s top player, finishing third out of all rookies in scoring with 84 points, good enough to also be the fifth-highest scoring center in the league. With a lack of talent surrounding Chershenko, the rebuilding Wranglers were only able to win 11 games in Season 27, good enough to finish third in the North American Conference and just barely above the weak Toronto Legion.

Season 28:

Regular Season (CGY) – 72 GP | 47 G | 54 A | 101 P | +19
Playoffs (CGY) – 7 GP | 4 G | 8 A | 12 P | -5

In Season 28, the VHL began to see a glimpse of the Calgary Wranglers team that would become consistent contenders. With the signing of defenseman Vladimir Boomchenko in free agency and the drafting of future superstars Volodymyr Rybak and Ryan Sullivan, and the first of young goaltender Marius Henchoz (who had been received in a trade from Davos before Season 27), Calgary now had all the future pieces in place for a dynasty. Chershenko, now in his sophomore season in the VHL, continued his rise to stardom with his first 100+ point season. The young forward was able to notch 47 goals, good enough for seventh-best in the league, and with the new crossover rule that allowed teams that finished third in their conference to still qualify for the playoffs, a young Calgary team had their first taste of the postseason. However, this foray into the playoffs was short-lived, as Chershenko and the Wranglers were defeated by the eventual champions, the Seattle Bears, in seven games.

Season 29:

Regular Season (CGY) – 72 GP | 49 G | 57 A | 106 P | +31

Season 29 was the next step in Calgary’s (and Chershenko’s) path to success. Chershenko and blue-liner Boomchenko both showed that they were the team’s leaders, scoring 106 and 103 points respectively, and the rookie seasons of Ryan Sullivan and Clark Marcellin were the VHL’s first sight of two future stars. However, Calgary’s playoff dreams were stopped short by the meteoric rise of the Toronto Legion, led by the VHL’s leading scorer in Jason White. The Wranglers ended up finishing last in the North American conference with a record of 36-30-6. However, Chershenko came into his own as a superstar, with 49 goals, which was good enough to lead the league in goals and win Chershenko his first individual award – the Joe Malone Memorial Trophy for leading goalscorer. Were it not for the incredible season of White and the historic season of Seattle Bears goaltender CAL G, Chershenko would have been able to win the MVP.

Season 30:

Regular Season (CGY) – 72 GP | 43 G | 44 A | 87 P | +34
Playoffs (CGY) – 11 GP | 9 G | 8 A | 17 P | +4

After the team’s failure during Season 29, Calgary was determined to change their fate for Season 30. After drafting Yuri Grigorenko second overall in the draft, a mostly unchanged Wranglers team went into the new season motivated to reach glory. Chershenko, now part of a very potent forward duo with fellow Ukrainian Volodymyr Rybak, surprisingly experienced a drop in production in S30, from 106 points to 87, and much closer to Rybak’s totals of 44 goals, 44 assists, and 88 points. However, Calgary’s 96 point third place finish in the North American Conference was able to put the team ahead of the Vasteras Iron Eagles and get them into playoff contention with the crossover rule. Chershenko’s second season in the VHL playoffs proved to be much more successful for both himself and the Wranglers, as a sweep of the European Conference champion HC Davos Dynamo placed Calgary in the finals against the Seattle Bears. Entering a tough matchup, the Chershenko and Rybak duo proved to be too potent for the Bears, as the Wranglers were able to win in seven games and bring the cup back to Alberta. Chershenko was also able to add a third trophy to his resumé, as his league-leadin 17 points in 11 games earned him the Howe Trophy for playoff MVP.

Season 31:

Regular Season (CGY) – 72 GP | 66 G | 77 A | 143 P | +80
Playoffs (CGY) – 5 GP | 2 G | 3 A | 5 P | +4

Things were different in Calgary now. After seasons of rebuilding and growing as a team, the Wranglers had become a powerhouse. Chershenko and Rybak were reaching their respective primes, Ryan Sullivan was becoming one of the league’s top defensemen, and after an Aidan Shaw Trophy-winning year in S30, Marius Henchoz was proving himself to be the top goaltender that Calgary fans had always desired. Despite trading away Vladimir Boomchenko and really only gaining Roger Fenzing in the offseason, the Wranglers had improved from last season and were now a clear favorite to win it all again. The regular season lived up to these expectations, as Calgary finished first in the North American Conference with 123 points, good enough to stand atop the entire league. Rybak and Chershenko again led the team, as the two had the most points in the league (143 for Chershenko, 147 for Rybak) and tied for the most goals (66), becoming co-winners of the Joe Malone Memorial Trophy. However, the playoffs proved to be much less successful for Chershenko and the Wranglers. With the new playoff system due to expansion, the crossover system was eliminated, and conference leaders like Calgary received a first round bye. While Calgary was able to forgo the first round of the playoffs, the Wranglers eventually matched up with the New York Americans in the conference finals, and were defeated in five games.

Season 32:

Regular Season (NYA) – 72 GP | 55 G | 78 A | 133 P | +64
Playoffs (NYA) – 17 GP | 12 G | 14 A | 26 P | +4

Season 32 was an interesting one for Alexander Chershenko. With Calgary seemingly selling in the offseason, both Chershenkos (Alexander and his brother Nikolai) were traded to the New York Americans in exchange for Zack Curry, Shane Lynch, Chris Bourque, and two first rounders. The Americans, now with a duo of Chershenko and Tukka Reikkinen, seemed to be in a duel with Calgary for top of the conference, and ended up finishing second in what ended up being a weak North American Conference. The Americans easily defeated the Quebec City Meute in five games, moving on to a highly anticipated matchup with the Calgary Wranglers to go to the finals. However, New York again seemed to make things look easy, winning 4 games to 1 a second time to move on to play the Riga Reign in the finals. After finishing first in the difficult European Conference, the Reign proved to be much more of a challenge, but were still unable to bring home the cup, as the Americans won in a close, seven-game series, securing their first (and second ever) championship since Season 14. Chershenko proved to be a good fit with the Americans, being named to his sixth consecutive all-star game and winning his second Continental Cup.

Season 33:

Regular Season (NYA) – 72 GP | 38 G | 59 A | 97 P | +29
Playoffs (NYA) – 13 GP | 8 G | 11 A | 19 P | -1

Season 33 came, and while Chershenko was beginning to reach the twilight of his career, the Americans were still favorites to win it all for a second time. In exchange for young goaltender Skylar Rift, New York was able to acquire Chershenko’s former teammate, defenseman Ryan Sullivan – at this point, one of the league’s best players. The Americans, now with a new general manager, quickly replaced Rift with Alexander Labatte, who had already won the Aidan Shaw Trophy two years in a row in Seasons 31 and 32. Chershenko experienced a drop in production, now finishing with 97 points – however, New York was still able to finish first in the North American Conference and earn a first round bye in the playoffs. After an early matchup between Toronto and Calgary, New York once again faced the Calgary Wranglers for an appearance in the finals, and Calgary came back with more firepower. The Wranglers, now bolstered by offseason acquisitions Jarvis Baldwin, Radislav Mjers, and Skylar Rift, forced the series to seven games, but ended up once again falling to Chershenko and the Americans. Season 33’s Continental Cup finals proved to be a rematch from the season before, though it went to just 6 games. Also, this time the Reign proved to be the better team, winning the championship for the first time in the franchise’s history since Season 16. But, Chershenko was able to gain some individual success from Season 33, as he was named co-winner of the Grimm Jonsson Trophy for best leader along with Ethan Osborne.

Season 34:

Regular Season (CAL) – 72 GP | 55 G | 70 A | 125 P | +69
Playoffs (CAL) – 21 GP | 18 G | 18 A | 36 P | +2

Season 34 was arguably Alexander Chershenko’s most turbulent season. With HC Davos Dynamo in need of a GM, Chershenko was traded to Davos along with Henrik Larsson and two draft picks in exchange for David Smalling and Phil Rafter, and Chershenko’s agent, Victor Alfredsson, was named general manager of the Dynamo. With Season 34 being Chershenko’s last, and Davos going into a rebuild, Chershenko was traded back to the team he started his career with, the Calgary Wranglers. The Wranglers, now a team that everyone seemed to have counted out, was making another push. Chershenko was once again leading a championship push in Calgary, and, seemingly revitalized by a move back to his original team, led the league in both points and goals. The Wranglers finished second in the North American Conference behind a new powerhouse in the Quebec City Meute, and Chershenko moved to his sixth and final playoff appearance in his career. The first series of the playoffs was bound to be tough, as Calgary once again met the New York Americans, and this time the Chershenko-led Wranglers were able to defeat the Americans in a close seven-game series. Now, Calgary faced their biggest test yet in Quebec City, a challenge cup favorite fueled by the acquisitions of Yuri Grigorenko, Skylar Rift, and Wesley Kellinger during the offseason. However, the Wranglers continued to push forward and were able to defeat the Meute in seven games. The finals, however, were not as fortunate for the Wranglers, as they ended up perishing to Ethan Osborne and the Helsinki Titans in seven games. Season 34, however, along with being Chershenko’s final season, ended up being his best individual season. Despite not winning the ultimate prize with Calgary, Chershenko’s 36-point playoff performance earned him playoff MVP, and his league-leading statistics in the regular season earned him both the Scotty Campbell Trophy and the Brett Slobodzian Trophy – at the time, the MVP as voted by the GMs and Most Outstanding Player as voted by the players, respectively.

Career Statistics:

Regular Season – 576 GP | 387 G | 489 A | 876 P | +283
Playoffs – 74 GP | 53 G | 62 A | 115 P | +8

A simple look at Chershenko’s statistics is reason enough for him to be a Hall of Famer. His career totals in points are in the top 10 all-time, which easily makes him one of the VHL’s best. As two playoff MVP awards would suggest, his playoff stats show even more. A total of 115 points means that he has the second most points all-time in the playoffs, second only to the great Scotty Campbell. Alexander Chershenko’s incredible career was rewarded by a very full trophy case, most notably including two Continental Cups and three Joe Malone Memorial/Kevin Brooks Trophies. Aside from a very successful individual career, Chershenko will also be remembered well for his off-ice performance. He was a very good leader and always respected by his teammates, which is shown in the fact that he was captain of a team for five seasons (four in Calgary, one in New York), and was considered by his peers to be one of the league’s hardest-working and most dedicated players. While Alexander Chershenko was not the greatest player in the VHL’s history, he is a clear-cut Hall of Fame inductee and will have a lasting legacy in the Victory Hockey League.

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D - Ryan Sullivan

Birthplace: Dallas, Texas

Height: 6'8"

Weight: 250 lbs

Jersey Number: 4

Drafted: S28 CAL (1/3)

Username: Advantage

 

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It is not very often that one comes across a defenseman who is very prolific at both ends of the ice. We often hear the terms "offensive defenseman" and "defensive defenseman" but what if a player comes along who can score just as easily as he can be a play-maker, and in turn, just as easily as he can be a shut-down defenseman? This is what makes Ryan Sullivan such a unique player. He paints a perfect picture of the fine balance between offense and defense from the point of view of a defenseman.
 
Sullivan was drafted to the Calgary Wranglers in Season 28 in a draft that featured a very strong first round. He was drafted third overall, which was no real surprise, given that the two drafted ahead of him (Rybak and Labatte) were products of two VHL Hall of Fame Builders (Slobodzian and Sterling, respectively). Despite this, Sullivan proved throughout the course of his career that he could keep up with the future Hall of Famers and was actually inducted the same year as Labatte in one of the easiest decisions the Board of Governors ever have had to make.
 
Career Awards:

Season 28 - Bourque Trophy
Season 29 - Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy
Season 30 - Continental Cup (Calgary)
Season 31 - Victory Cup (Calgary)
Season 31 - Sterling Labatte Trophy
Season 31 - Mikita Trophy
Season 31 - Dustin Funk Trophy
Season 33 - Devon Marlow-Marta Trophy (New York)
Season 33 - Sterling Labatte Trophy
Season 34 - Sterling Labatte Trophy
Season 34 - Alexander Beketov Trophy
Season 35 - Terence Fong Trophy (Helsinki)

Season 29 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S29 (CAL) - 72GP / 19G / 55A / 74P /+27 /111PIM / 198HIT / 199S / 88SB / 1GWG

After spending a year developing in the VHLM, earning himself a Bourque Trophy for top VHLM Defenseman, Sullivan entered the VHL in style, collecting more than a point per game and just under 200 hits. He topped the scoring charts for rookies and when combined with the fact that he out-scored fellow teammate and draftee Rybak by a large margin (28 points) and finished third on his team in points and third in hits, it is no surprise that he was awarded the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy for Rookie of the Year.
 
Calgary, who were a young team, finished bottom of the conference with 36 wins and 78 points, although they had a better record than all but Davos in the European Conference. Sullivan's instant production was a sign of greater things to come and the GM was very pleased with the decision to have allowed him to play an extra season in the minors. 
 
Season 30 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S30 (CAL) - 72GP / 10G / 51A / 61P / +34 / 150PIM / 239HIT / 141S / 105SB / 3GWG
Playoffs:
S30 (CAL) - 11GP / 2G / 8A / 10P / +5 / 36PIM / 35HIT / 24S / 16SB / 0GWG

Some would say that Sullivan suffered a bit of a sophomore slump this season but others would not be so quick to judge. Despite dropping off quite a bit in his points production, being 7th on the team in scoring, Sullivan played smarter. He knew, with the dynamic duo of Chershenko and Rybak along with Jenkins and Boomchenko, that he would not have to be relied on to put up points. So he upped his defensive game, laying out more hits, having a better plus/minus rating, and blocking more shots.
 
Calgary's record improved by 18 points and although they finished third in their Conference, they made it into the playoffs to play Davos due to the cross-over rule the VHL had implemented for that season. They swept Davos out of the way and went on to play the Bears in the finals. The series went all the way to Game 7 and early in the game, Sullivan assisted on the opening goal. Calgary added an insurance marker in the second period and went on to capture Sullivan's first Continental Cup!
 
Season 31 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S31 (CAL) - 72GP / 20G / 101A / 121P / +74 / 132PIM / 194HIT / 261S / 127SB / 2GWG
Playoffs:
S31 (CAL) - 5GP / 3G /4A / 7P / +5 / 16PIM / 16HIT / 26S / 11SB / 1GWG

Sullivan capitalized on the 132 goals scored between Chershenko and Rybak, collecting a monstrous 105 assists, earning him the Mikita Trophy. To go along with his 121 points, he had a +74 rating, just under 200 hits and 127 shots blocked, which also earned him a Sterling Labatte Trophy for Top Defenseman for the first time in his career. His astonishing season also earned him the Dust'n Funk Trophy, awarded to the most improved player. The Wranglers not only topped their Conference but also won the Victory Cup with 123 points and just 8 regulation losses. They scored the most goals (307) and let in the fewest (135) in a dominating performance. After waiting one round to play in the Conference Finals, Calgary came out rusty and ended up losing to New York in just 5 games. Sullivan still managed to earn the most points on Calgary, with the highest plus/minus, most shots blocked, and scored their only game winning goal.
 
Season 32 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S32 (CAL) - 72GP / 32G / 61A / 93P / +11 / 167PIM / 323HIT / 292S / 149SB / 6GWG
Playoffs:
S32 (CAL) - 5GP / 2G / 3A / 5P / -3 / 36PIM / 34HIT / 15S / 5SB / 1GWG

Calgary went through some very interesting changes in the off-season. They shipped off Alexander Chershenko to New York and managed to acquire Shane Lynch as a piece from a trade with Davos and also managed to convince Damon Wolfe to sign with Calgary from Free Agency. GM Jason Glasser was trying to give Sullivan some more support on the defensive end. The pairing of Wolfe and Sullivan gelled instantly and Sullivan put up some career-high numbers to this point. He managed 323 hits along with 32 goals and 149 shots blocked - all his personal best. He earned 93 points while Wolfe kept pace with 91. This was a formidable pairing. Sullivan also led the league in powerplay points that year with an incredible 46, showing how devastating he can be with some space. Calgary had the "advantage" they needed going into the playoffs, topping the Conference with 106 points (4 more than New York) and earning a bye for the second consecutive season. It was written in the stars that they would have a re-match with New York. The Americans took the series in 5 once again and it was another disheartening end to an otherwise great season for Sullivan and the Wranglers..
 
Season 33 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S33 (NYA) - 72GP / 26G / 81A / 107P / +48 / 210PIM / 308HIT / 320S / 119SB / 6GWG
Playoffs:
S33 (NYA) - 13GP / 1G / 10A / 11P / -2 / 63PIM / 56HIT / 42S / 21SB / 1GWG

In the off-season, Sullivan was traded to New York in a straight-up swap for netminder Skylar Rift. The reason for this deal was mainly because Sullivan's player agent, Chris Miller, was to be appointed the GM of New York, and with Sullivan still active in the VHL, it would be a conflict of interest to keep him in Calgary. So Sullivan found himself reunited with Chershenko and playing for the rival team throughout his VHL career. Clearly Sullivan took a shine to the Big Apple. He posted 107 points, producing higher numbers than Chershenko and had another +300 hit season with +100 shots blocked, helping New York to the top of the NA Conference with 113 points. For his efforts, he was awarded his second Sterling Labatte Trophy. After waiting for the third straight year for the Conference Finals to start, Sullivan saw the series from the other side. This time, the series when to Game 7 and OT, where half-way through the period, Sullivan took matters into his own hands, creating space and shipping the puck off to Schwarz Esq, who found N. Chershenko to put New York into the finals. Unfortunately for them, they were bested by Riga in 6 but that was just Sullivan's second appearance in the finals and an experience he will not likely forget.
 
Season 34 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S34 (NYA) - 72GP / 20G / 86A / 106P / +28 / 177PIM / 265HIT / 326S / 160SB / 1GWG
Playoffs:
S34 (NYA) - 7GP / 3G / 5A / 8P / 0 / 44PIM / 57HIT / 24S / 12SB / 0GWG

In the off-season, the Americans acquired two huge stars in Phil Rafter and David Smalling to help give them the edge in order for them to win the Cup. Sullivan's offensive production was, once again, torrid. He managed for the third time to usurp the century point total, scoring 106 points and finishing first among defensive and also earning the  newly named Beketov Trophy with 86 assists. Even more impressively, he managed 160 shots blocked, an incredible amount for an individual on a competing team to tally. The new signings Rafter and Smalling were in their final season and were showing their age, putting up relatively disappointing offensive numbers and because of this, New York only just managed to sneak into the playoffs with 94 points - 2 behind the Legion. There, they met Sullivan's old friend, Calgary, once more. The series went to 7 games but New York's Cup hopes met a brick wall when, despite out-shooting the Wranglers, they couldn't put the puck past Satan and lost 2-0. Sullivan had just one more shot at earning another Continental Cup. On a positive note, however, he did take home his third Sterling Labatte Trophy.
 
Season 35 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S35 (HEL) - 72GP / 21G / 65A / 86P / +32 / 113PIM / 241HIT / 288S / 100SB / 7GWG
Playoffs:
S35 (HEL) - 12GP / 6G / 10A / 16P / -2 / 26PIM / 56HIT / 43S / 26SB / 0GWG

Since Sullivan announced his retirement, GM Miller was able to trade him off to Helsinki in order to retool his team and have a quick turnover back to a Championship side. Helsinki had finished on top of the European Conference in back-to-back years, had won the Cup last season, and where hungry looking for the repeat. With a top line of Osborne, Tordahl, and Zhumbayev, backed with the goaltending skills of Tukio and a defensive pairing of Sullivan and Weber, Helsinki were a force to be reckoned with. For the third straight year they topped the EU with 110 points, only just missing out on the Victory Cup to Quebec, who accumulated 113 points. Sullivan finished third in team scoring and among defensemen with 86 points, he had 241 hits to lead his team and managed 100 blocked shots. He also recorded a career-high 7 game-winning goals and the Titans were looking very serious about repeating. In the Conference Finals, Helsinki met with Cologne. It was a close series that featured all the games being decided by one or two goals. Helsinki won out in 6 games and went on to face Quebec for Sullivan final shot at another Continental Cup. The Titans quickly went down 0-2 but battled back to even the series at 2, with Sullivan being awarded second star for his 3-point performance. They lost Game 5 in OT but could not fight back and ended losing in 6.
 
Career Totals:
 
Regular Season:

504GP /  148G /  500A / 648P / +254 / 1060PIM / 1768HIT / 1827S / 848SB / 26GWG

Playoffs:

53GP / 17G / 40A / 57P / +3 / 221PIM / 254HIT / 174S / 91SB / 3GWG

Sullivan, in that final playoff run, finished tied for first in points on his team, led his team in hits and had one of the highest plus/minus ratings and shots blocked totals. Despite him being in his final year, he was a leader to the very end. He was the type of player who just had a big presence on the ice. His teammates would play better when he was out there, just for the simple fact that he was on the ice. It was like he was his team's security blanket. Finishing his career with 3 Sterling Labatte awards, 2 Beketov/Mikita Trophies, a Stolzschweiger Trophy and a Funk Trophy, his collection of personal accolades is a testament to the impact he had on the ice. Sullivan's fantastic offensive abilities combined with his rock-solid defense was a key reason behind what made him such a great player and is a reason his name has been placed in the hallowed halls of the VHL Hall of Fame (and in more ways than one). In Season 42, to further honour Sullivan, the VHLM renamed the Bourque Trophy to the Ryan Sullivan Trophy, to be awarded to the Top Defenseman in the league, ensuring that his name will never be forgotten, nor his exceptional talent.

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LW - Volodymyr Rybak

Birthplace: Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine

Height:  6'4"

Weight: 219 lbs

Jersey Number: 49

Drafted: S28 CAL (1/1)

Username: Rybak_49

 

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Merely looking at his collection of accolades is not enough to give one a sense of just how prolific Volodymyr Rybak was. Spending his entire career in Calgary, he only ever managed to achieve 4 individual accolades, which makes his awards section look at little bare. What people need to remember is that he played at a time where we've seen some of the greatest VHL forwards and goaltenders alike pass through the league. The fact remains that there are still only a select few individuals who managed to out-produce him, and even fewer on a basis as consistent as Rybak. His place in the VHL Hall of Fame should not be overlooked. 
 
Career Awards:

Season 30 - Continental Cup (Calgary)
Season 31 - Victory Cup (Calgary)
Season 31 - Scotty Campbell Trophy
Season 31 - Mike Szatkowski Trophy 
Season 31 - Kevin Brooks Trophy
Season 34 - Devon Marlow Marta Trophy (Calgary)
Season 35 - Scott Boulet Trophy 

Season 28 Statistics

Regular Season:
S28 (CAL) - 72GP / 44G / 43A / 87P / +20 / 28PIM / 63H / 424S / 11SB / 3GWG
Playoffs:
S28 (CAL) - 7GP / 5G / 5A / 10P / +2 / 0PIM / 8HIT / 34S / 0SB / 1GWG

To say this was a solid start to his career would be a whelming understatement. Finishing the season with 87 points, one would think it is ridiculous he did not get the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy. Netting well over 40 goals in one's rookie season is a dream all players only ever get one shot at. Rybak showed what he could bring to the team, firing a tumultuous 424 shots throughout the season (roughly 6 shots per game). However, despite his success, he still finished 3rd in the race for top scoring rookies, as Ying Qin and Shane Lynch on the rebuilding Davos team connected to collect 96 and 105 points, respectively. As inflated as the offensive stats were that season due to 4 teams being in the early stages of a rebuild,  Shane Lynch had to share his Top Rookie trophy with Toronto Legion goaltender Alexander Labatte, who posted a .921SV% with 2.60 GA. This was a very dynamic year in the VHL and Rybak helped Calgary solidify their place in the playoffs as the third team from the North American Conference. They had a hard-fought, seven-game series against Seattle Bears but lost heart-breakingly to the Victory Cup winners 2-1 in the final game. It should be noted that Rybak, who had the second most points for Calgary in that series, was also the only player on the team to finish with a +/- ratings in the positives. 
 
Season 29 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S29 (CAL) - 72GP / 27G / 21A / 48P / -9 / 10PIM / 21HIT / 336S / 15SB / 5GWG

After the success of his previous season, one can conclusively conclude that this was a clear-cut case of the sophomore slump. To be fair, it was largely due to the change in circumstances than anything else. The Wranglers were in full rebuild mode and finished dead last in North America, although with a highly respectable 78 points.  Rybak, after showing his coaches that he could be a leader on the team, was paired with two rookies, Clark Marcellin and enforcer Dave Mustaine, and a defensive pairing with 3 VHL years between them. The young line was exposed for most of the season as the coaches relied on Chershenko and Boomchenko to provide most of the offense on the top line, with rookie Ryan Sullivan cashing in from the two. Still, Rybak led the way for his linemates, having the most points and best +/- rating, barring Klaus Muller.
 
Season 30 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S30 (CAL) - 72GP / 44G / 44A / 88P / +35 / 55PIM / 162HIT / 428S / 17SB / 6GWG
Playoffs:
S30 (CAL) - 11GP / 6G / 11A / 17P / +10 / 4PIM / 24H / 57S / 4SB / 2GWG

This was a real bounce-back year for Rybak. Still playing on the second line, he managed to out-score everyone on his team. The acquisition of Leeroy Jenkins from Helsinki half-way through the season didn't hurt his cause, but he was consistent through much of the season regardless. This was the season he stamped his foot on the Wrangler organization and showed them that they had a franchise player on their hands. With his help, they managed to get into the playoffs with 96 points, despite finishing 3rd in North America again (In fact, the Legion, who finished fourth in NA, had 91 points, compared with Vasteras, who finished second in Europe with 48). 
The Wranglers faced-off against the best team in Europe, Davos, who were on the verge of a dynasty. Die nasty, they did. Calgary dismantled them in four games and moved on to the finals to meet up with Seattle once again. The series went all the way to seven games and despite Seattle's heavy offensive line-up, Calgary shut them down, beating them 2-0. Rybak added an apple on the insurance goal in the second period. It was an unexpected name placed upon the Continental Cup that year but no one on Calgary would have seen it cast differently. 
 
Season 31 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S31 (CAL) -  72GP / 66G / 81A / 147P /  +74 / 111PIM / 225H / 570S / 31SB / 10GWG
Playoffs:
S31 (CAL) - 5GP / 4G / 1A / 5P / -2 / 11PIM / 17HIT / 30S / 3SB / 0GWG

Calgary was the undisputed team of the year this season and it was for many of the players, their favourite season in memory. Calgary finished the season with just 8 regulation losses and 123 points. They collected a whopping 307 goals throughout the season, which, put into perspective, is an average of 4.3 goals per game.  Rybak was phenomenal, not only collecting the Brooks Trophy for the most points, but also shared the Mike Szatkowski Trophy for most goals with 66 and was awarded the Scotty Campbell Trophy as the VHL's most outstanding player. He also started to show his physical side, laying out 225 hits over the course of the season. His versatility became a big factor and he would continue to hone his skills as a two-way forward. 
It looked like Calgary were headed for consecutive cups. Since it was the first year of expansion, Calgary were awarded a bye into the second round where they met New York.  Ultimately, New York played Calgary's offense very well by shutting them down in 5 games. Benjamin Glover, Daniel Braxton, Shane Lynch and Damon Wolfe were remarkably effective and other than game three where Calgary netted 7 in their only win of the series, they held them to just 5 goals. Rybak was completely negated in the series, finishing with only 5 points and the only player on Calgary with a minus rating. After the success of their brilliant regular season, this was a humbling defeat. 
 
Season 32 Statistics

Regular Season:
S32 (CAL) - 72GP / 51G / 77A / 128P / +64 / 26PIM / 58HIT / 523S / 28SB / 10GWG
Playoffs:
S32 (CAL) - 5GP / 5G / 3A / 8P / +3 / 6PIM / 3HIT / 34S / 4SB / 0GWG

Some highly amusing changes took place in the off-season. Calgary shipped off Alex Chershenko, their superstar, and acquired Shane Lynch as a piece from the trade and signed Damon Wolfe from free agency. They had taken two of the three reasons they lost to New York last season in hopes of solidifying their defense. This was a bold movement of confidence from GM Glasser, a move that showed he believed Rybak could lead this team to continued success. Rybak didn't disappoint, having another +100 point season, toping his team scoring by 28 points and finishing with the best plus/minus rating. Calgary ended atop the Conference again, finishing with 106 points, 4 points ahead of rivals New York and interestingly with the exact same goal difference of 101. Rybak did not win any individual awards, as he was stuck behind three of his fellow Hall of Famers in scoring (Rafter, Chershenko, and Smalling). However, his hard work was good enough to provide Calgary with another bye into the Conference Finals.  It was written in the stars that they would have a re-match with New York. During game 5, with Calgary in a 3-1 series deficit, Rybak scored early and added another in the 3rd, giving Calgary a two-goal lead. Somehow, the Americans came back with three unanswered goals to win and took the series in 5 once again. Another disheartening end to an otherwise great season for Rybak and the Wranglers.
 
Season 33 Statistics

Regular Season: 
S33 (CAL) - 72GP / 50G / 78A / 128P / +55 / 36PIM / 113HIT / 547S / 68SB / 6GWG
Playoffs:
S33 (CAL) - 13GP / 4G / 8A / 12P/ +6 / 37PIM / 25HIT / 84S / 7SB / 0GWG

In attempts to remain competitive for the Cup, the management brought in two veteran players in Felix Zamora and Jarvis Baldwin, the eventual Brooks and Szatkowski winner. Rybak, Marcellin, and Baldwin made one of the most dominant lines in the VHL and earned  128, 126, 138 points each, respectively. For the third consecutive season, Rybak managed to reach the 50-goal mark. They cruised into the playoffs behind New York with 103 points and disposed of the Toronto Legion in six games to meet New York for the third straight year in the Conference Finals. Calgary pushed it to a seventh game and it went all the way to OT where, much to the chagrin of Calgary fans, former Wrangler Nikolai Chershenko slapped a beauty past Rift to move on to the finals. Once again, a great personal and team regular season  for Rybak that ends up crashing to a halt in New York.
 
Season 34 Statistics:

Regular Season: 
S34 (CAL) - 72GP / 52G / 69A / 121P / +68 / 87PIM / 173HIT / 484S / 57SB / 7GWG
Playoffs:
S34 (CAL) - 21GP / 10G / 21A / 31P / +1 / 42PIM / 54HIT / 129S / 31SB / 2GWG

With Baldwin retired, the GM needed to replace the lost offensive production and he did this by re-acquiring Alexander Chershenko, much to the delight of the Calgary faithful. This would mean yet another 50-goal season for Rybak, who finished second in the league in points, only behind linemate Chershenko. They would finish behind Quebec City with 106 points and have to face their kryptonite, the Americans in the first round of the playoffs. As anticipated, it was a gruelling, hard-hitting series that went 7 games once more. After blowing a 2-goal lead again, sending the game to OT, Larsson scored on the powerplay to finally get past New York and move on to Quebec. This was another series that went all the way to game seven, with Calgary getting the edge over the Meute. They were finally back in the finals, where they had to face Victory Cup winners Helsinki. Calgary quickly jumped out to a 2-0 series lead but let it slip and Helsinki forced a game seven. Trailing 1-0 heading into the third, Chershenko tied it up on the powerplay, forcing overtime. 12 seconds before the end of the first OT period, Helsinki struck a dagger into the hearts of the Wranglers by scoring and winning the Cup. One can't come closer to winning than that and despite being highly praised for this continued success, this loss hurt more than any, for no team can stay competitive forever.
 
Season 35 Statistics:

Regular Season:
S35 (CAL) - 72GP / 64G / 73A / 137P / +62 / 94PIM / 260HIT / 509S / 65SB / 9GWG
Playoffs:
S35 (CAL) - 14GP / 6G / 5A / 11P / -6 / 33PIM / 49HIT / 80S / 15SB / 0GWG

With Chershenko retired and Rift leaving for Quebec, if they wanted to stay competitive, Calgary needed to replace the scorer and goaltender. Glasser went to New York to negotiate a deal that would bring in franchise goaltender Alexander Labatte for his first and second pick in the Season 37 draft. He then signed Mike Wozniak from free agency to replace Chershenko. The team was divisively thinner but the hope was that Labatte could make up for the defensive liabilities. The top line was the most productive in the league and had little competition now they the Season 27 forwards were all retired. Calgary dominated the leaderboards, having 3 players in the top 4 in scoring and 5 in the top 6 for assists. Rybak still stood in the shadow of another as Wozniak had a blazing 72 goals and 154 points, which topped Rybak's highly impressive 64-goal, 137-point season.  The Wranglers met the Legion in the playoffs and won in seven games. They when on to meet Quebec City and took the series to their sixth consecutive seven-game series but fell 3-1 in the ultimate game. 
 

For his physical play and scoring prowess, Rybak was awarded the Scott Boulet trophy. This was Rybak's 5th straight season where he accumulated over 100 points and was already considered by most to be one of Calgary's all-time greats. He headed into the off-season with his head held high but knew his days in Calgary were finished. He announced his retirement the next week. 
 
Career Totals:
 
Regular Season:

576GP / 398G / 443A / 841P / +369 / 447PIM / 1075HIT / 3821S / 292SB / 53GWG

Playoffs:

76GP / 40G / 60A / 100P / +14 / 133PIM / 180H / 448S / 64SB / 5GWG

Not many players have spent their entire careers in one city, especially when they have  the exceptional talent that Rybak had. He was the center of the team for 6 of his 8-year career and without his talent, Calgary would never have been able to compete for as long as they did. Despite him only winning one Cup, Rybak will forever be remembered as a Calgary legend and one of the most consistently productive forwards in the VHL. Rybak can now step out from the shadows of other forwards and let the sun shine down solely on his place in the VHL Hall of Fame.

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