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VHL Weekly Review - S73 Week 5


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Welcome to the fifth edition of VSN’s S73 Weekly recap (Games 476-576).  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!

Under 250: VHLM Review | Ringless: S51 Calgary Wranglers | Deep Rewind: Century Men | The Next Generation: S74 | VSN Australia



Before this week's review I would like to thank the wonderful @FrostBeard taking a chance and hiring me on to be apart of the VSN family. He has done wonders with the crew and his presence will surely be missed. However, having said that I would like to congratulate @Doomsday on his promotion to editor-in-chief. We have decided this week to go away with the power rankings, and instead include a playoff preview! Special thanks goes to @PatrikLaine of course, who I could not do these articles without.


The final week of the regular season has come to a close, and we are underway with this season’s playoffs. Teams around the league left everything on the line as they made their final push for a spot in the postseason. We had a close race for the playoffs in the European Conference, in which the Prague Phantoms sadly missed out by just a single point. We also had the first ever Wildcard round, where in the North American Conference, the D.C. Dragons triumphed over the Vancouver Wolves. Over in the European Conference, the Malmo Nighthawks took down HC Davos. Both series were closely fought and went down to the wire, needing all 5 games. 


That means semifinal match-ups are set, and we are ready to determine a Continental Cup winner. D.C. is taking on the top seeded Seattle Bears in the North American Conference and our other matchup is a rematch of last year’s Conference Finals. In the European Conference, the Helsinki Titans are taking on the Wildcard winners, the Malmo Nighthawks, and last year’s champs, the Riga Reign, are facing off against the Moscow Menace.




First Star

Sigard Gunnar (LAS) - 9 G, 9 A, 18 PTS, +7
Second Star

Greg Eagles (RIG) - 8-2 in 10 GP, 0.930 SV%, 2.30 GAA

Third Star

Erik Killinger (TOR) - 4 G, 13 A, 17 PTS, +7


Playoff Preview


(NA1) Seattle Bears vs (NA WC) D.C. Dragons

SEA Leads 3-1


Perhaps a surprise appearance for the D.C. Dragons in this year’s playoffs, they qualified from 5th place after taking out the Vancouver Wolves in the Wildcard round. However, they have run into a red-hot Seattle Bears squad who are being led by the amazing goaltending of Rayz Funk. An incredible .954 save percentage along with a formidable 1.26 goals against average has been the key to Seattle’s success so far. That’s not to say the offence hasn’t been clicking either, as the Bears blew out the Dragons in Game Four by a score of 6-1. The Dragons have found almost all of their scoring through Benny Graves and Guy Lesieur who were also a massive part of their success in the Wildcard round. If they want to bring this series back from the brink they will need their secondary scorers to find their touch, and fast. They are facing elimination in Game 5 and if they can manage a win, the series is set for an interesting conclusion.


(NA2) Calgary Wranglers vs (NA3) New York Americans

Series Tied 2-2


In the other North American Conference series, we have a rematch of last season’s Conference Finals. These games have absolutely lived up to the hype, and the two rivals have been going at it cutthroat. We have somewhat of a goaltenders battle going on with this series, with all 4 games being relatively low scoring. Jacques Lafontaine has been stellar so far for the Wranglers, with a .929 save percentage and 2.07 goals against average. While for the Americans, A Red Guy has similar stats, boasting a .933 save percentage, but a slightly higher 2.52 goals against. Offensively, Jerry Wang has been the top dog for New York, leading the way with 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points in 4 games. RJ Jubis is the top point scorer for Calgary, but they have been getting contributions from all over the lineup, with 5 separate players on 4 points. With the biggest win only being by 2 goals, we can expect to see more close games, and I also expect the series to go the full 7 games. 


(EU1) Helsinki Titans vs (EU WC) Malmo Nighthawks

Series Tied 2-2


This series has been an absolute joy to watch. Extremely heavy hitting games every night between these two rivals. Despite the series starting in Helsinki, Malmo would grab the early lead in this series as they won Game One by a score of 4-3 during a great night for Chris Hylands and Ray Sheilds. Sheilds had a pair of goals and Hylands had three assists in the win. Helsinki would strike back and take the series lead back, taking Game Two by a score of 5-2 and then ruining Malmo’s homecoming by on a late goal to tie the game and an early overtime goal. Malmo would play great in game 4 and tie the series up at 2 games a piece. It will be interesting to see how Game Five in Helsinki happens as Malmo has been great on the road.


(EU2) Riga Reign vs (EU3) Moscow Menace

RIG Leads 3-1


This clash between these two European Conference rivals has not disappointed. Riga’s offense took control of the series early in a 7-4 win for the Reign in Game One. In Game Two, it was a much different story. Moscow would dominate from the get-go. They would end up chasing Greg Eagles out of the game during a 5-1 win in Game Two. Eagles didn’t let this bother him, as he absolutely robbed the Menace in Game Three and Game Four. Eagles would save 47 out of 49 shots in those two games as Riga took control of the series with decisive 3-1 and 8-1 victories, respectively. Riga now has the opportunity to close the series out on home ice. It will be interesting to see how the defending champs perform throughout the rest of the series. Moscow is no pushover though, they have been great on the road all year, but the playoffs is a different animal. Moscow will need Raymond Bernard to be at his best as they have to win three in a row to save their season.



Notable Games


Game 478 - Toronto Legion vs Vancouver Wolves


This week we start off with an amazing game between two teams hunting for a playoff spot. Both teams came out firing in this one, and it was Vancouver who opened the scoring through Griff Manzer on an early power play. Shortly after that they extended their lead to 2 goals through a nice passing play that was finished off by Brock Louth. The Toronto Legion were then awarded a power play of their own which they capitalized on courtesy of Kristopher McDagg. The Legion looked to be heading for the intermission down a goal, but defenceman Leon Gutzilwer rocketed a blast past the Vancouver netminder to tie the game at 2. Toronto then used that momentum to grab a lead of their own, this time Chad Magnum managed to put away a scramble in front of the net. The back and forth action continued, and only 34 seconds after going behind, Andrew Su stepped over the blue line and ripped a shot over the shoulder of Jaxx Hextall to tie the game up once again. Toronto again grabbed a lead shortly before the end of the 2nd with a nice power play goal from Thorny Underyew and they held that lead going into the 3rd period. Picking up where they left off, just 1:37 into the 3rd period Magnum scored his 2nd of the game and extended Toronto’s lead to 2 goals. The Wolves didn’t let the deficit get their spirits down, and they continued to play their game and chip away at the Toronto lead. First, Mat Tocco brought them within one, then it was Brock Louth with his 2nd of the game to tie the game back up and keep the fans at the edges of their seats. Things seemed to be headed for an overtime period, but the Legion took a late penalty and rookie Gregg Stallion scored the game winning goal with just 22 seconds left to play in regulation. This game ended up having huge implications in the playoff picture as Toronto missed by the 2 points that they lost at the end of this game.


Game 487 - Calgary Wranglers vs New York Americans


Another North American matchup, this time between two teams that are all too familiar with each other. The Wranglers jumped out to an early lead after a power play goal from Willie Dredge, but the Americans actually ended the 1st period ahead on the scoreboard after goals from Jerry Wang and Julius Freeman. Calgary came back with another quick goal in the 2nd period, this time from Mikko Lahtinen, also on the power play. Most of the 2nd frame was uneventful, but when Micheal Gary Scott scored for the Americans he started a landslide of offensive moves from both teams. Joe Proto answered back with a goal only 22 seconds after Scott had scored, and then Scott decided to one up Calgary even further by scoring his 2nd of the game only 14 seconds after that! 3 goals in the span of just 36 seconds really opened up the game and it was all offensive from then on. Acyd Burn got a goal of his own shortly after that flurry of activity, and Willie Dredge scored his 2nd of the game to keep Calgary within striking distance. Calgary came out in the 3rd period with a chip on their shoulder and scored another quick one, this time from Kris Rice. He went on a rampage in the 3rd period, scoring himself a hat trick and putting the game to bed for Calgary who scored 4 unanswered goals, with one from RJ Jubis as well. The Wranglers can thank Rice for the immense 3rd period performance because this helped them gain home ice advantage in the playoffs over the team that they just beat. 


Game 535 - Prague Phantoms vs Malmo Nighthawks


This European Conference matchup follows the same tune as the others, being an offensive game with some great back and forth action. Malmo enjoyed most of the play in the 1st period, and it was Marshall James Frostbeard who opened the scoring just under 5 minutes into the game. The rest of the period was largely uneventful, up until Tyler Walker stepped into a shot that found its way into the back of net with 55 seconds to play. The Nighthawks continued their good play in the 2nd period, extending their lead to 3 goals through Ray Sheilds. Prague would finally find a goal of their own through Dagmar Havlova but a goal at the end of the period from Condor Adrienne once again extended the lead. Prague then found their feet in the 3rd and exploded for 3 goals to tie the game and force overtime. It was Cinnamon Block with the goal to start the rally, then Thomas Landry II really put some doubt into Malmo with a wonderful goal to bring the game back to 1 goal. Midway through the 3rd period Ben McGirr scored the game tying goal and that would be all the scoring for regulation. Overtime would be needed to solve this one, and Prague fans will be cursing the hockey gods after being forced to watch their team make a remarkable comeback only to fall short in the extra frame. Ray Sheilds scored the winner with only 53 seconds to play and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Another phenomenal game to round off the week that had a very big impact on the playoff race. A win for Prague here would have ensured their spot in the wildcard round, but it just wasn’t meant to be.



Events of the Week



  • Game 487 - Kris Rice
    • The first hat trick of the week comes from Calgary forward Kris Rice. In this game where defence was an afterthought, the Wranglers lit up the Americans for 8 goals in a high scoring affair. It was Rice who came up clutch for Calgary, as they actually entered the 3rd period trailing by a score of 5-4. However a 3rd period hat trick from Rice completed a very nice comeback for Calgary.


  • Game 491 - Guy Lesieur
    • Lesieur continued his phenomenal season in this game against Prague. He did all the scoring for D.C. in this one, and they have to be happy with their decision to acquire him at the trade deadline. They will be hoping that he continues this play in the playoffs.


  • Game 506 - Jerry Wang
    • Another high-scoring game between the Americans and Wranglers in this one, and this time it was Jerry Wang who came out with a hat trick. He had a goal in each period, and even got the game winner in the 3rd as Calgary attempted another remarkable comeback.


  • Game 511 - Sigard Gunnar
    • An amazing natural hat trick was scored by Sigard Gunnar in this match-up between the Los Angeles Stars and Toronto Legion. The Stars took a narrow lead into the 3rd period before Gunnar absolutely lit up the Legion for 3 goals in just under 8 minutes. This game brought his tally up to 56 goals for the season.


  • Game 512 - Hunter Hearst Helmsley
    • Another natural hat trick, this time from Warsaw’s free agent signing, Hunter Hearst Helmsley. You could be picky and say his hatty was broken up by an intermission, but he still scored 3 in a row. HHH led the way for Warsaw in this game, they ran out of this one as 5-2 winners.


  • Game 516 - Ola Vikingstad
    • Nearly everybody on the Bears roster had a point in this 9-0 drubbing of the London United. However, Ola Vikingstad stood out above his teammates by scoring a great hat trick. He had two goals in the 3rd period, and one with just 6 seconds left which confirmed his hat trick.


  • Game 520 - Kristopher McDagg
    • In this back and forth game which had multiple lead changes, Kristopher McDagg scored a clutch hat trick to help secure a comeback win for Toronto. With his team trailing by a goal midway through the 3rd, he came up with a couple of goals which helped ensure a victory and a hat trick.


  • Game 528 - Jared Spaz
    • The Titans had a few hat tricks this week, and Jared Spaz had two of his own. His first came against the Prague Phantoms, where he added on some insurance at the end of the game to really drill home the victory. This hat trick was also Spaz’s 30th goal of the season, which is something he can be very happy with.


  • Game 538 - Ben Hafkey
    • Another one from the Helsinki Titans, this time it was Ben Hafkey. He had a pair of goals in the first period, and one of them came on the penalty kill. In the 2nd period, shortly after Calgary had tied the game, he scored his hat trick goal to give the Titans a 3-2 lead which they eventually turned into a 5-4 victory.


  • Game 543 - Marshall James Frostbeard
    • Players this week are just loving their game winning hat tricks. This time it was Marshall James Frostbeard of the Malmo Nighthawks coming up with a hat trick game winner against the New York Americans. He had a couple of goals in the middle frame and then popped up midway through the 3rd with the hat trick and eventual game winner.


  • Game 544 - Benny Graves
    • An amazing season for Graves continued in this game where he scored a hat trick against a tough Calgary Wranglers team. The Dragons dominated in this one and Benny Graves scored 3 wonderful goals in a 6-2 victory.


  • Game 550 - Roque Davis
    • Another clutch performance and this time it’s from the young defenceman, Roque Davis. He helped Davos out of a 2-0 hole in the first period by scoring twice and erasing that deficit. He then popped up again when it mattered most, and buried the game winning goal in the 3rd period.


  • Game 554 - Chris Hylands
    • In this 4-1 victory for Malmo, they almost had Hylands to thank exclusively. He scored a nice hat trick, with goals in each period, and helped Malmo to a relatively easy win.


  • Game 556 - Micheal Gary Scott
    • A very rare hat trick from a defenceman and it goes to Micheal Gary Scott. The veteran defenceman scored 2 very quick goals in the 1st period, and then finished the job later on in the 3rd period, scoring his 3rd goal. The Americans would take this one by a score of 5-1.


  • Game 557 -Lucas Brandt
    • We almost had another natural hat trick on our hands from Lucas Brandt, but it wasn’t meant to be. He did score all of his goals in the 1st period, but his hat trick goal was split by a goal from Chicago just 8 seconds before he managed to score his 3rd. He won’t be too upset, however, as Moscow won the game 4-3, thanks to the scoring ability of Lucas Brandt.


  • Game 563 - Jared Spaz
    • Spaz’s 2nd hat trick of the week came in a 7-3 drubbing of the Chicago Phoenix. A goal in each period by the Titans sharpshooter ensured a great day at the office for himself and his team.


  • Game 576 - Balentine Kidd
    • The final hat trick of the season came in the final game. Balentine Kidd played a wonderful game for the United, scoring a goal in all 3 periods and the game winner for his hat trick. A great way to end the season for Kidd and the London United.



  • Game 484 - Jean Pierre Camus
    • Recording his 3rd shutout of the season and putting a dent in Davos’ playoff hopes, Jean Pierre Camus played a solid game for the Chicago Phoenix. He stopped 26 shots, and even managed to get on the scoresheet, by grabbing an assist on Chicago’s 2nd goal. What a game from the rookie netminder.


  • Game 493 - Samuel Ross
    • The Helsinki Titans have Samuel Ross to thank for this win. He made 26 saves in this one, and it’s a good thing he was there when his team needed it, because Helsinki only won by a score of 1-0. Only his 2nd shutout of the season, but I doubt Ross will be too displeased considering Helsinki’s #1 spot in the standings.


  • Game 496 - A Red Guy
    • The first of 4 shutouts this week for the retiring goaltender A Red Guy. He made 30 saves in this 1-0 win over Riga. This included stopping a late flurry of shots after being forced to go on the penalty kill with only a minute left in the game.


  • Game 499 - A Red Guy
    • ARG proves once again just why he is thought of as one of the best goaltenders in the league, stopping 37 shots en route to another 1-0 victory, our 3rd in a row and ARG’s 2nd in as many games. Another solid outing from New York’s star man.


  • Game 505 - Nicolas Fomba & Joakim Bruden
    • Taking a glance at this one, it looks like a 4th shutout by a score of 1-0, but this was actually a double shutout from these amazing goaltenders, as the game ended in a shootout, so both goalies are credited with a shutout. We have Nicolas Fomba from Warsaw, who made 29 saves, including all 3 in the shootout and also collecting the win. However, Joakim Bruden must be disappointed as he actually picks up a loss with this shutout, a very rare sight indeed. The 41 saves just weren’t quite enough.


  • Game 508 - Jimmy Spyro
    • For the 3rd time this week, Davos finds themselves on the wrong end of a shutout. This time it’s Jimmy Spyro who picks up a 2-0 win, after making 33 saves for a clutch win that helped Vancouver in the playoff race. This is Spyro’s 4th shutout of the season, and he has had a solid year indeed.


  • Game 516 - Rayz Funk
    • A shutout was almost a foregone conclusion in this game. An amazing 9-0 win for the Seattle Bears and a shutout for Rayz Funk to go along with it. He only needed to make 17 saves, but he stood tall for all of them and certainly earned the goose egg.


  • Game 519 - β-LAS G
    • This has been an amazing storyline to follow all season long. Los Angeles could not find a goalie to play for them so they were forced to use their backup for the whole year. He managed to pick up two shutouts this week, this one being his first. A fine 25 save performance was enough to help his team to a 3-0 win.


  • Game 521 - A Red Guy
    • His 3rd shutout of the week, and he isn’t even done yet! This time he picks one up against the Riga Reign, after making 35 saves. Another solid performance from A Red Guy that ensured the New York Americans secured a playoff spot in the tight North American conference.


  • Game 522 - β-LAS G
    • This would be the backup’s final shutout of the season, and he would end with an incredible 5 of them. I’m honestly not sure what they were feeding this guy down in LA but whatever it was, it worked. In this game against the D.C. Dragons, he stopped 39 shots, and stole the game for the Stars in a 1-0 win. What a season from the Stars netminder.


  • Game 562 - Stone Wolski
    • The Dragons managed to steal one from Helsinki here, managing to win 3-0 after registering just 17 shots. It was the great play of Stone Wolski who helped secure that victory though, as he stopped all 28 shots that Helsinki managed to throw at him. This victory was crucial for the D.C. Dragons and their quest for a playoff spot.


  • Game 564 - Nicolas Fomba
    • Fomba only picked up 2 shutouts this season, and both of them were in the final week of play. This is a great sign for the Predators and they will be more than happy to see that Fomba has been improving in his play as the year went on. He made 22 saves in this shutout victory over London.


  • Game 566 - Thorvald Gunnarson
    • Moscow’s young backup Thorvald Gunnarson picked up his 2nd shutout of the season with a solid performance against the Chicago Phoenix. He didn’t face a high amount of shots, but he stopped all 16 and that’s all that matters.


  • Game 570 - Jaxx Hextall
    • Toronto would grab a 1-0 victory against the D.C. Dragons in this one, speaking of which, there have been way too many 1-0 shutouts this week! This time it was Jaxx Hextall who made 25 saves and earned 1st star of the game. This ended up being his 5th and final shutout of the season, which is something Jaxx can be proud of.


  • Game 573 - A Red Guy
    • In the final regular season game of A Red Guy’s career, things went perfectly. He picked up a 17 save shutout, and ended the season on the highest of highs. Incredibly, this was his 4th shutout of the week, which capped off a fine season in which he earned 8 total shutouts on the season. He will be looking forward to the playoffs in hopes of winning the elusive Continental Cup.



Rookie Spotlight

James Rose


Special thanks to @dlamb for coming through on short notice.


Few rookies have had a path of the VHL that is as unique as the path that James Rose took. James was a stable two-way defender during his time in the VHLM. He spent 2 seasons in the M, playing for Mexico City and Houston during those seasons. He was set to begin his first VHL season with Helsinki until he got picked by London in the VHL Expansion Draft.


 “It feels like you are a part of something that’s going to be great, a bit like you’re on the ground floor of a new business. You just have to put your head down, stay with it and trust the process” Rose was amazing in his rookie year, recording 63 points in 72 games which tied him for 5th for points among rookies in the entire VHL. When asked about his breakout season, Rose tells us a part of it was due to him staying down in Houston last season.


“It gave me time to improve. It feels like I can keep up and have more of an impact in the VHL game today. At the start of the season, I did have some doubts, but McWolf and Sonnet reassured me that I was doing well. I want to be first in line to be team captain, but that's not up to me and it isn't the time yet to be thinking about stuff like that.”  Rose had a great season on a London United team that went 18-51-3 through 72 games this season, last in the league and trailing the next best team by 9 points. Rose said even though the team struggled this season, he had an absolute blast.


“I think I interact with my teammates well. As far as prospects and new rookies coming, I can help out now. There are A LOT of firsts this season for myself AND the franchise, so we're all going through the experience together, and that's priceless and super exciting. Next season, expect a vastly improved team and it's going to improve even more.” Even though every seemed good for Rose as he was picked in the expansion draft, he explained that there was much more going on during that time than meets the eye.


“Oh man.. it was a whirlwind of everything. Was planning on staying in Houston, Helsinki releases me to expansion, I have opportunity in London...chats with Jubo, McWolf and rjfryman, support from my Bulls, it was a crazy few days. The dust settled a few days later when I chose to move up and be a part of something new.” Rose says he hopes he can lead this team to success a few seasons down the road. The potential is there, with some solid pieces to build around and a top draft pick. Rose left us with one last answer for how things will go:


“We're going to be competitive, play spoiler, train HARD and stay UNITED. As for how things will actually play out...you'll just have to wait and see.”



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