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VHL Weekly Review - S73 Week 4


Laine
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Welcome to the fourth edition of VSN’s S73 Weekly recap (Games 355-475).  We’ll cover a host of things in this recap each week including highlights of important VSN happenings, three stars of the week, power rankings, rookie profiles, and anything else of importance.

 

Speaking of other VSN content, make sure to check out the other great work from the greater VSN family! Here are a few handy links to check out, from our weekly podcasts to in-depth history articles, scouting reports, and more!

 

Talents Behind the Trophies | Under 250 | Ringless: S49 Quebec City Meute | VSN Australia | S73 Future Watch: EU

 

Recap

Week 4 was a story with 2 sides. Goalies were absolutely shutting the door to all shooters at the beginning of the week, recording a total of 14 shutouts across the entire week. The last 3 days of the week, it was all about the shooters. Mostly within the last 3 days, 16 hat tricks were recorded across the league including one game where a player scored 5 goals. As the playoffs grow closer, the amount of fighting and physicality has gone up. Hits are at a high for this season and we saw 16 fights across the week. It will be interesting to see how the play of teams will change heading into the playoffs.

 

3-Stars

 

First Star

Odin Omdahl (SEA) - 6 G, 21 A, 39 Shots Blocked
Second Star

Benny Graves (DCD) - 11 G, 14 A, 63 Hits

Third Star

Greg Eagles (RIG) - 2.53 GAA, .910 SV%, 4 Shutouts

 

Power Rankings

Featured on this week’s graphic are Berocka Sundqvist on the Seattle Bears, Mikko Lahtinen from the Calgary Wranglers, and Guy Lesieur playing for the D.C. Dragons.

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Shoutout to @Pengu for the banner 

 

This week, the Seattle Bears regain the top spot on the Power Rankings, and rightfully so. The Bears have been terrific all season long, and if not for the insane winning streak that the Helsinki Titans went on, they may have topped the rankings for 3 weeks in a row. This week they were led by this week’s 1st Star, Odin Omdahl, who played a string of great games and anchored Seattle on that blue line. The #2 spot goes to the Calgary Wranglers who have had a resurgence as of late, and have climbed up our rankings all the way from the bottom spot last week after riding a 10 game win streak. They had some stellar goaltending this week from Jacques Lafontaine, who won 12 of his 14 starts which is an incredible stat. 

 

The final spot in our top 3 goes to the D.C. Dragons, who after struggling to start the season, have put all doubts aside and are now firmly cemented in the North American Conference playoff race. Star centre Benny Graves has been the key to the Dragons’ success, and he led the way this week with some terrific performances that earned him our 2nd Star of the week. Coming up next, at #4, we have the Moscow Menace. Moscow has been ever-present in the power rankings this season, only missing out in Week 1, and they have done that on the back of some excellent goaltending by Raymond Bernard. He currently leads the league in save percentage and his solid play has been critical to Moscow’s success.

 

Filling in our back half of the rankings, coming in at 5th spot are the Helsinki Titans who fell off after an amazing week last week. They rode an incredible win streak straight to the top of the rankings and after some average play from the team, they have slipped down the ranks. Erik Summers continues to have a fine season and is currently leading the team in points. Our #6 spot goes to the Vancouver Wolves who have been ever-present in our Power Rankings this season. Their top players are doing all the work for them, most notably, Brock Louth and Jeff Downey who both had great weeks and continue to help push Vancouver towards a playoff spot.

 

Making their first appearance this season in our power rankings, the Toronto Legion will claim spot #7. They’ve been unfortunate to miss the rankings all season, having just missed out in previous weeks, but they finally put together a solid week and it is enough to get a spot in our Top 8. This week was all about the team game for Toronto, with nobody on the roster exploding with fantastic individual performances, but fans of the Legion will be happy to see the team starting to gel. Our 8th and final spot is held by the Prague Phantoms. The Phantoms have been right in that playoff hunt all season long, and are currently just 1 point shy of a postseason berth. With their starting goaltender Virgil Ligriv announcing his retirement earlier this week, they have handed the reins over to Woody McPine who stood tall in his 13 starts and managed to win 8 games.

 

 

Notable Games

 

Game 361 - Prague Phantoms vs Calgary Wranglers

 

This week’s surprise tilt saw the Phantoms take on the Wranglers. The scoring got started early, as just 1:01 into the game, rookie defenseman Kosmo Kramerev would fire a bomb past Woody McPine to put the Wranglers up by 1 early. This would be the only goal of the period, but Calgary dominated the rest of the way. They outshot Prague 15-4 in the opening frame and didn’t slow down in the second. They would get a pair of goals from Willie Dredge at the 46-second mark and the 4-minute mark of the second period to make it 3-0. Midway through the frame, Prague would battle back and score 2 power-play goals within a span of 2:54 to cut the deficit to 3-2. Prague would keep battling all the way to the buzzer that ended the second period but didn’t find a way to tie the game up. All seemed lost for Prague when Kris Rice would bury a wicked wrist shot to make it 4-2, but they didn’t give in. Just 43 seconds later, Gary Tarantino would drill a slapper that had eyes for the net, making it 4-3. Prague would outplay Calgary throughout the third period and it would pay off and just 2:09 after cutting the lead to one, Dagmar Havlova would score on a breakaway to tie it up 4-4. Throughout the rest of the third period, no goals would be scored and it would take extra time to settle this game. Overtime would be back and forth, but with just 36 seconds left in the extra frame, Alex Pearson would put home the game-winning goal, stunning the Calgary crowd as Prague rallied to win against the Calgary Wranglers.

 

Game 373 - Los Angeles Stars vs Warsaw Predators

 

An interesting matchup surfaced this week in Europe, as Los Angeles and Warsaw would clash in a game for the ages. It wouldn’t take long for LA to get on the scoreboard as just 2:40 into the game, Tyler Barabash Jr would drill a one-timer home on the power play to make it 1-0 LA. Later in the frame, Sigard Gunnar would score his 40th goal of the season to double the LA lead to 2-0. Warsaw would respond quickly, with Zeno Miniti putting Warsaw on the board just 6 seconds later. The first period would end with the score staying 2-1 for LA. LA would jump out to a strong second-period start, scoring 2 goals in the first 6 minutes to go up 4-1. Warsaw needed a miracle, and they got one. In the next 3:20 after Sigard Gunnar’s goal that made it 4-1. Warsaw would come back and tie the game, receiving 1 goal from Damien Wolfe and receiving 2 goals from Zeno Miniti, including his hat trick goal that made it 4-4. LA would fight back and with around 5 minutes left in the second, Markus Nygren would put LA back on top 5-4. In the third, Warsaw would continue to battle back and just 1:35 in, Hunter Hearst Helmsley would tie it again, making the score 5-5. The third would be a very competitive period from both teams, but we would need extra time for this game. Overtime wouldn’t solve anything, so we headed for a shootout. In the shootout, Sigard Gunnar would be the only one who would find the back of the net as LA’s emergency backup goalie would stop all 3 shooters in the shootout to help LA win a wild game by a score of 6-5.

 

Game 410 - Warsaw Predators vs Calgary Wranglers

 

One of the best individual performances of the season would come during a game between Warsaw and Calgary. Calgary would jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first 15 minutes of the first, receiving goals from Mikko Lahtinen and Willie Dredge. Despite this early barrage, Warsaw would get to within 1 before the end of the period, getting a goal from Damien Wolfe. The second was very uneventful and only one goal would be scored as Dalton Wilcox would tie the game up 2-2 with 5 minutes to go in the period. In the 3rd period, Mikko Lahtinen would explode, scoring 4 goals in around 7 minutes to put Calgary up by a score of 6-2. Calgary would ride this 3rd-period performance to a 6-2 win over Warsaw. Lahtinen with the performance of the season so far, scoring 5 goals and tacking on an assist for 6 points on the night. This is sure to be a confidence booster for him.

 

Events of the Week

 

Fights

 

  • Game 368 - Milos Slavik vs Nate Wright
    • In a tilt between two expansion rivals, Milos Slavik and Nate Wright would drop the mitts. Wright fought admirably, but Slavik was the more skilled combatant here and Slavik ended up winning the fight. It was a fun fight to watch though, lots of punches and blocks.

 

  • Game 371 - Remy Moreau vs Mikko Aaltonen
    • Trying to set a tone for his team after giving up an early goal, Mikko Aaltonen would challenge Remy Moreau to drop them. The two of them went at it. Aaltonen got the jump on him and gave Moreau a few nice shots to the jaw, but Moreau came back and got Aaltonen right in the nose. The fight ended in a draw, but Aaltonen had to go off for some repairs. 

 

  • Game 382 - Griff Manzer vs Bob Helminen
    • After tying the game and losing the tie only moments later, Griff Manzer challenged Bob Helminen right off the next faceoff. Helminen accepted and the two got right down to business. Both combatants were able to land some good blows, but Manzer ended up getting the final hit on Helminen, knocking him to the mat.

 

  • Game 387 - Jet Jaguar vs Squirrely Dan
    • During a highly contested match between the Chicago Phoenix and HC Davos where Chicago just extended their lead to 2-1. Jet Jaguar thought it would be a good idea to set the tone for the rest of the game and fight Squirrely Dan. The two of them went at it pretty good. Both of them were leaking a bit of blood after this fight. However, before one of them could land a deciding blow, the linesmen broke it up.

 

  • Game 399 - Andrej Petrovic vs Tony Bolonee
    • With Vancouver down late in the game, Andrej Petrovic and Tony Bolonee decided to drop the mitts. The two wouldn’t bother blocking and beat at each other’s faces. Both of them hung in there through the whole fight. The linesmen ended up separating the two, with the fight ending up in a draw. Bolonee would end up being ejected for instigating the fight.

 

  • Game 400 - Dalton Wilcox vs Dagmar Havlova
    • Trying to set the tone early for their teams, Wilcox and Havlova would fight just 6 minutes into this game. Havlova would get some solid punches in on Wilcox but in the end, Wilcox was just too much for Havlova to handle and he would end up winning this bout.

 

  • Game 406 - JaredN vs Ola Vikingstad
    • Late in a 5-1 win for Seattle Bears, JaredN would fight Ola Vikingstad. Both players got off a lot of punches that didn’t really materialize into any sort of advantage. As a result, the linesmen would eventually break it up and the fight would end with the result being a draw.

 

  • Game 411 - SS Hornet vs Frans Eller
    • In the most unlikely matchup, SS Hornet and Frans Eller would drop the mitts. Hornet would get some solid right-hand punches in and get Eller on the brink. As Hornet got the finishing blow on Eller, Eller got him right in the nose. Hornet wins but pays the price. He would have to go off for some repairs but would be right back out there 5 minutes later.

 

  • Game 412 - Randy Marsh vs Brock Louth
    • Two tough customers in Marsh and Louth would drop the mitts here. They would start hammering each other right away, wearing both combatants down as the fight went on. The two would begin to struggle and the linesmen would break them up.

 

  • Game 434 - Brock Louth vs Remy Moreau
    • Two players who already have fought players this week decided to drop them here. Louth got some solid right-hand punches in, but Remy would give him a nice shot right in the jaw. This fight was going somewhere, but the linesmen broke it up too early. I really would’ve liked to see the two keep scrapping.

 

  • Game 438 - Damien Wolfe vs DeFenz Mann
    • After a huge hit by Wolfe on one of Mann’s teammates, Mann decided to stand up for his teammate and fight Wolfe. Man came out firing, but the rookie was eventually put to bed by Wolfe, who managed to get him square in the jaw with a right hand. Mann eventually returned to the game after getting 20 stitches in his jaw.

 

  • Game 439 - Jim Bob vs Scott Greene
    • In a highly contested game between the two best teams in the VHL, Seattle got one early and in response, Bob challenged Greene to try and get Helsinki going. The two traded punches, again and again, getting weaker with every blow. Just when it looked like the next punch would be the winner, the linesmen separated the two. We missed out on a great ending to this fight.

 

  • Game 440 - Remy Moreau vs Gert B Frobe
    • This is Remy’s 3rd fight this week, this time taking on a tough customer in Frobe. Frobe would surprise Remy early, getting in some solid right hands and an uppercut to the jaw. In response, Remy would give Frobe one of his signature right-handers to the Jaw. The linesmen would separate the two and both would go off for repairs.

 

  • Game 450 - Gary Tarantino vs Kyl Oferson
    • Tarantino and Oferson would drop the mitts during a highly contested game between Riga and Prague. Tarantino would come out firing with his punches, but Oferson held firm. Once Tarantino was tired out, Oferson landed a few solid blows. At this point, both combatants were exhausted so the linesmen broke them up. Tarantino was ejected for instigating the fight.

 

  • Game 453 - Codrick Past vs Chris Hylands
    • With Malmo losing 2-1 in the second, Hylands took it upon himself to put some spark on the bench and fought Codrick Past. Codrick came out with the punches, but Hylands held firm and even pushed back with punches of his own. The linesmen broke them up eventually.

 

  • Game 466 - Gary Tarantino vs Luciano Valentino
    • In a highly contested game between D.C. and Prague, tensions began to run high and Tarantino would end up challenging Valentino near the end of the first period. The pair didn’t bother blocking and instead just began punching each other right away. To the surprise of many, they both were still standing after they had tired out and the linesmen had to break up the bout. Valentino had to go off for repairs and Tarantino was ejected for instigating the fight.

 

  • Game 471 - Owen Nolan vs Kris Rice
    • Our final fight of the week takes us to a clash between Calgary and New York. After a late Calgary goal would put the game out of reach, Nolan would decide to take his anger out by fighting Rice. The two went back and forth for about 20 seconds. Trading punches and going blow for blow throughout. The linesmen, unfortunately, broke them up as the fight was ending.  It would have been a great finish and I was disappointed that they broke it up so soon.

 

Hat-Tricks

 

  • Game 373 - Zeno Miniti
    • Zeno Miniti would record a hat trick during a crazy game between the Los Angeles Stars and the Warsaw Predators. Despite the hat trick, Warsaw would end up losing 6-5 in a shootout.

 

  • Game 392 - Gary Tarantino
    • In a pivotal matchup against the New York Americans, Gary Tarantino would score 3 goals, including 2 in the third to help the Phantoms steal a 5-4 win from New York.

 

  • Game 393 - Willie Dredge
    • Willie Dredge would record a goal in every period of the game on his way to scoring a hat trick against Moscow. Unfortunately for Dredge, Moscow would end up winning the game 4-3.

 

  • Game 401 - Valtteri Vaakanainen
    • In a marquee matchup between the surging Titans and falling Americans, Valtteri Vaakanainen would score 1 goal in the first period and 2 in the second to record a hat trick in a 5-2 win for the Titans over the Americans.

 

  • Game 410 - Mikko Lahtinen
    • In perhaps the performance of the season by a skater, Mikko Lahtinen would score 5 goals in a 6-2 win for Calgary over Warsaw. 4 of those goals from Lahtinen would come in the third period to break a 2-2 tie. This game has to be a confidence booster for him.

 

  • Game 413 - Benny Graves
    • Benny Graves would record a hat trick during a game between the Dragons and the Legion. He would score 2 in the second and the game-tying goal in the third in a 4-3 OT win for the Dragons.

 

  • Game 419 - Brock Louth
    • Brock Louth would record a hat trick against the Chicago Phoenix, potting 1 goal in the first and 2 in the second for the hat trick.

 

  • Game 424 - Berocka Sundqvist
    • Berocka Sundqvist would record a hat trick, scoring 1 in the first and 2 in the third to help lift Seattle over Warsaw by a score of 5-3.

 

  • Game 425 - The Terrible Trivium
    • The Terrible Trivium would record a hat trick in a key game for London against the rival HC Davos Dynamo. He would score 2 goals in the third and the OT winner to propel London to a 5-4 OT Win.

 

  • Game 429 - Sigard Gunnar
    • Sigard Gunnar would record his first hat trick of the week, scoring 3 goals including 1 in each period to lead the Stars to a 4-1 win.

 

  • Game 437 - Owen Nolan
    • Owen Nolan would record a hat trick, netting one in each of the three periods played during a 5-2 win for the Americans.

 

  • Game 442 - RJ Jubis
    • RJ Jubis would record his first hat trick this week, scoring 3 in regulation and a 4th goal in overtime to lift the Wranglers over the United by a score of 5-4.

 

  • Game 445 - Uhtred
    • Uhtred would record his first hat trick of the week, netting 3 goals on 6 shots during a wild 6-4 win for the Seattle Bears.

 

  • Game 446 - Teemu Lehtinen Jr
    • Teemu Lehtinen Jr would record his first hat trick of the week, scoring 3 goals and tacking on an assist in a 6-3 win over London.

 

  • Game 447 - Gregg Stallion
    • Gregg Stallion would record his first hat trick of the week. He would net 3 goals, including the game-winner in a 5-4 win over Davos.

 

  • Game 453 - Chris Hylands
    • Chris Hylands would record his first hat trick of the week, scoring 3 goals on 9 shots. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be enough as Riga would defeat Malmo by a score of 4-3.

 

  • Game 470 - Gary Tarantino
    • Gary Tarantino would record his second hat trick of the week, netting 3 in a win for the Phantoms as they defeated Riga in the game by a score of 5-2.

 

Shutouts

 

  • Game 359 - Riga Reign vs Moscow Menace
    • Greg Eagles would record the league’s first shutout of week 4, making 26 saves in a 4-0 win against Moscow. 11 of those 24 shots came in the 3rd so he did a tremendous job protecting the Riga lead.

 

  • Game 367 - Toronto Legion vs Seattle Bears
    • Rayz Funk would shut down the high powered Legion offence, making 29 saves in a 3-0 Seattle victory. All 3 Seattle goals came in the first period and Funk did a good job keeping the door shut the rest of the way.

 

  • Game 370 - London United vs Riga Reign
    • Greg Eagles would chalk up his second shutout of the week in a dominating 5-0 Seattle win over the London United. Riga dominated from the drop of the puck and Eagles only had to make 18 saves. Nevertheless, it is still a shutout and 10 of those stops came in the 3rd period.

  

  • Game 390 - Riga Reign vs Los Angeles Stars
    • Greg Eagles would get another shutout, this time against the Los Angeles Stars. Riga dominated this game start to finish to win 7-0. Eagles made 18 saves to clinch the shutout.

  

  • Game 395 - London United vs Calgary Wranglers
    • Jacques Lafontaine would record his first shutout of the week against London. Lafontaine would stop all 12 London shots to take the game by a score of 3-0.

 

  • Game 397 - Chicago Phoenix vs Seattle Bears
    • Rayz Funk would record his second shutout of the week, backstopping Seattle to a 3-0 win over the Chicago Phoenix and recording 14 saves in the process.

 

  • Game 415 - New York Americans vs Los Angeles Stars
    •  β-LAS G, the emergency backup goalie for the Los Angeles Stars would record a shutout. He went in at the beginning of the game and stopped all 35 New York shots in a 1-0 Win.

 

  • Game 419 - Chicago Phoenix vs Vancouver Wolves
    • Jimmy Spyro would record his first shutout of the week, making 37 saves in a 6-0 win over the Chicago Phoenix.

  

  • Game 420 - Calgary Wranglers vs D.C. Dragons
    • Jacques Lafontaine would record his second shutout of the week, stopping 25 shots in a 3-0 win over the D.C. Dragons.

 

  • Game 423 - Los Angeles Stars vs Riga Reign
    • Greg Eagles would continue his stretch of great performances this week, recording his 4th shutout of the week in a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Stars in which he stopped 29 shots.

 

  • Game 426 - Moscow Menace vs Toronto Legion
    • Raymond Bernard would stand tall for the Menace, stopping 31 shots in regulation, 4 in OT and both shooters in the shootout to help Moscow beat Toronto 1-0.

 

  • Game 448  - New York Americans vs Los Angeles Stars
    •  β-LAS G would record his second shutout of the week against the Americans, making 35 stops in a 1-0 OT win.

 

  • Game 464 - New York Americans vs Helsinki Titans
    • A Red Guy played great for New York in this game, stopping all 23 Helsinki shots to steal a 1-0 win for the Americans.

 

  • Game 467 - Moscow Menace vs Los Angeles Stars
    • β-LAS G would continue a string of terrific games as the emergency goalie for the Stars, making 24 saves in a 3-0 win over Moscow for his 3rd shutout of the week.

 

  • Game 469 - London United vs HC Davos Dynamo
    • β-LDN G would record the final shutout of the week, making 31 saves in a 1-0 win for London over the HC Davos Dynamo.

 

Rookie Spotlight

Jacob Tonn

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Shoutout to @Zetterberg for the rookie spotlight banner!

 

This week we shine the spotlight on our first rookie goalie this season, and we have chosen to go with none other than Jacob Tonn of the Seattle Bears. Tonn originally joined the league as a waiver signing, opting to play in San Diego with the Marlins where he had somewhat of a tough time. Having said that, in Season 71 when he joined, the Marlins were in the middle of a rebuild and were one of the worst teams in the league, so his early stats are not great indicators of his all-around performance. He was drafted 18th overall in the dispersal draft by the Mississauga Hounds where he helped them to a playoff spot with a solid 2.84 GAA and .893 save percentage. Unfortunately for Tonn and the Hounds, they ran into a red hot Philadelphia Reapers squad and were eliminated in 5 games. 

 

Following the playoffs, the Seattle Bears drafted Jacob Tonn at 4th overall in the VHL draft. The Bears were looking for their goalie of the future and they definitely got that in Tonn. What the netminder lacks in height, he’s only 5’5”, he makes up for in raw talent. He has had a pretty successful rookie campaign for Seattle, with an 8-3-1 record after 13 games. His raw stats are good for a rookie, with a 3.28 GAA and .878 save percentage and we can expect to see those improve soon as he continues to work on his game. What impresses me most about Tonn is his ability to win games for his team despite what his stats say. He won 45 games in his full season in the minors and already has 8 wins under his belt for the Bears. I am excited to see how he improves in the coming seasons.

 

With the retirement of Rayz Funk coming up on the horizon, Tonn will need to absorb all he can from the franchise goaltender in their two seasons together. It will be interesting to see if Tonn will follow in the footsteps of Funk and play out his entire career with the Bears, and with no other goalie currently in the system, it seems that Seattle is banking on just that. So far, Jacob has come up clutch when his team has needed it. For example, this week he made 3 starts and won every one of them which helped cement Seattle’s spot at the top of the standings. Seattle will be hoping they will see more and more of that as Tonn gains experience at the highest level. 

 

Having impressed so far in his rookie season, it is likely that Seattle will look to Tonn more often as Funk ages and creeps up on retirement. It will be crucial for Jacob to string together some solid performances next season as the proverbial torch is passed. I expect that Tonn will live up to all expectations as his stats are solid for a rookie, and we will be looking at a goaltender that will be one of the best in the league someday. It’s very rare to see a goalie under 6 foot these days, and Tonn is a full 7 inches under that mark, but his pure talent can’t be ignored. Seattle has chosen to ignore that and have put their full faith in the Canadian netminder.

 

- VSN Writer Patrik Laine

 

 

Edited by PatrikLaine
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