CHL Weekly: The climb begins as we enter the second half of the season

Allen Americans (23-10-4, 50 points) Tied 1st place

Allen is continuing to find and pull in the points, getting another five point weekend last week against Arizona, pulling them even with Rapid City at 50 points overall. Allen has been getting a lot of production out of the ‘French Connection’ line of Alex Lavoie, Jonathan Lessard and Jamie Schaafsma who’ve earned a combined 20 points in the last five outings (9g, 11a), with Lavoie leading all rookies with 49 points overall.

Allen seems to have righted the ship and gotten back on course and are now finding ways to win. Is this just a streak, or will they become consistent as the season heads towards the playoffs? A pair of games this weekend against the last place St. Charles Chill should allow Allen to potentially step ahead of Rapid City in the standings, if they don’t take the Chill lightly.

Arizona Sundogs (15-18-3, 33 points) 9th place

The Sundogs entered their three-game set with the Allen Americans riding a four game winning streak. Following three extra-frame games, Arizona picked up four of a possible six points, picking up a shootout win, losing in a shootout then losing in overtime.

Bryan Cameron netted the game winner in the shootout as Andrew Engelage stopped all five Allen shooters in a 4-3 home win on Friday. Allen returned the favor the following night, beating Arizona 2-1 in the shootout to hand the Sundogs a 4-3 loss. The Sundogs were nine-seconds from claiming victory on Monday afternoon, before the Americans scored with an extra attacker and Greger Hanson added an overtime marker to secure a 3-2 road loss for Arizona.

The Sundogs will head to Vail, Colorado this week where they will take on the Denver Cutthroats in a two-game set this weekend. They will then return home to open a three-game series against the Rapid City Rush next Wednesday.

Brampton Beast (20-16-3, 43 points) 5th place

Brampton picked up 4 of a possible 6 points this week as they defeated the St. Charles Chill 2 out of 3 games in St. Charles.  They started the series off with a loss to the Chill 3-4 after a penalty riddled 1st and 2nd period. Later in the week the Beast came back strong and defeated the Chill on Saturday and Monday.

Brampton forward Rob Collins continues to sit atop the Brampton leaderboard with 42 points consisting of 13 goals and 29 assists. Trailing in second place is forward Jason Pitton with 33 points consisting of 18 goals and 15 assists.

Brampton will take on the Quad City Mallards in Brampton this next week where they will look to pick up an additional 4 points.

Denver Cutthroats (19-11-7, 45 points) 4th place

Denver had a tough week, facing a Rapid City team who has been struggling a bit lately and were looking to get back on track and they did so taking two out of three games on their home ice, leaving the Fish with only two of six points for this weeks efforts. Garrett Bembridge continues his point production with three goals and an assist last weekend to keep him at the top of the scoring list with 60 points (30g, 30a).

Denver sits in 4th place only one point behind Missouri, but the Mavericks have two games in hand over the Cutthroats. Denver now faces a surging Arizona Sundogs team next week that have started to turn things around with some recent acquisitions and are looking to make a move up in the standings.

Missouri Mavericks (22-11-2, 46 points) 3rd place

The Missouri Mavericks dropped two out of three games this week, starting the week out strong they defeated the Tulsa OIlers 5-3, however later in the weekend they dropped two games against the Wichita Thunder. In both games against the Thunder the Mavericks were subdued by a seemingly endless array of penalties that ultimately prevented the Mavericks offensive unit from capitalizing.

Independence, MO - 01/18/2014 The Missouri Mavericks score against the Wichita Thunder as team Captain Sebastien Thinel directs the puck in the net behind the Wichita netminder.

Independence, MO – 01/18/2014 The Missouri Mavericks score against the Wichita Thunder as team Captain Sebastien Thinel directs the puck in the net behind the Wichita netminder.

Sebastien Thinel continues to lead the Mavericks leaderboard with 45 points comprised of 11 goals and 34 assists, while Eric Castonguay trails with 37 points comprised of 15 goals and 22 assists.

The Mavericks will take on the Tulsa OIlers twice in the coming week as they travel to the BOK Center and then return home to the IEC to wrap the weekend up.

Quad City Mallards (16-9-7, 39 points) 7th place

The Quad City Mallards had a light schedule last week, dropping a lopsided 7-1 decision on the road at Wichita on Friday. Gergo Nagy provided the only offense for the Mallards, scoring Quad City’s lone goal mid-way through the second period. The Mallards were 0-for-seven on the powerplay as they dropped their fourth game in a row.

Nagy currently leads the team in scoring with 28 points, with Mike Stinziani (24), Thomas Frazee (23), Matt Boyd (23) and Mike Hellyer (22) rounding out the top five. Stinziani, Jeff Lee and Gabriel Levesque are tied for the team goal lead with 11 each.

The Mallards will head North of the border this week to take on the Brampton Beast in a three-game series beginning on Thursday. Quad City is 5-0-2 against Brampton this season.

Rapid City Rush (25-10-0, 50 points) Tied 1st place

Rapid City had hit a slump recently but with the stellar season they’ve been having, a few game slump was to be expected. Frustrated with those losses, they took Denver in a three game series last weekend and emerged with four of six points and now find themselves in a tie with Allen for first place in the Central Hockey League.

The good news for the Rush is that they have two games in hand over Allen and face the struggling Wichita Thunder twice this weekend. They also still have the league’s best goaltender in Tim Boron and two scorers in the top five in Jesse Schultz and Konrad Reeder.

St. Charles Chill (9-25-5, 23 points) 10th place

The St. Charles Chill took on the Brampton Beast this week picking up 2 out of 6 six potential points. They started the week off on a good note narrowly defeating the Beast in shootout on Friday. The Chill then went on to drop two games to the Beast on Saturday and Monday. The Chill were unable to offensively gain traction as they were held back by penalties.

Forward Kyle OKane sits atop the Chill leaderboard with 27 points consisting of 15 goals and 12 assists while team Captain Jordan Fox trails with 26 points consisting of 10 goals and 16 assists.

The Chill will travel to Allen Texas to take on the Allen American’s this next week where they will try and climb out of this slump and pick up an additional 4 points to help them move up in the standings.

Tulsa Oilers (19-19-2, 40 points) 6th place

The Oilers came up short to the Missouri Mavericks once again, dropping their only contest of the week 5-3 on home ice.

Rookie Adam Pleskach put the Oilers on top early, netting his 22nd goal of the year 3:20 into the game. Missouri tied the game 2:12 later and took over from there, scoring three more goals to take a 4-1 lead into the first intermission. Nathan Lutz scored the only goal of the middle period, then Blair Macaulay scored with 1:07 left in the third to pull within one goal. Unfortunately for the home team, they were unable to find an equalizer and an empty net goal from Missouri with five-seconds remaining iced the game.

Todd Robinson continues to lead the team in scoring with 58 points, ranking him two-points behind Denver’s Garett Bembridge for the CHL lead. Veteran Michel Beausoleil’s 23 goals puts him in first place on the team, while Pleskach sits in second with 22 and Ben Gordon is in third with 21.

The Oilers close out their season-long six game homestand this week with games against the Wichita Thunder on Tuesday and Missouri Mavericks on Friday. They will then hit the road for a rematch with the Mavericks at the Independence Event Center on Saturday.

Wichita Thunder (15-17-4, 34 points) 8th place

The Wichita Thunder battled all weekend long and came out with six points in the standings, moving into eighth place.

The Thunder started the weekend with a 7-1 blowout at home against the Quad City Mallards. Defenseman Jesse Dudas led the way with four points coming off of two goals and two assists.  Wichita went two- for-six on the power play and is now 2-0-0 on the season against the Mallards.

Wichita then went to the not-so friendly confines of the Independence Events Center to take on the third-place Missouri Mavericks.  The Thunder and the Mavericks played a hard fought, low scoring affair for the first two periods, entering the third period tied 1-1. Goals came in bunches in the third period when the two teams scored two goals apiece, forcing overtime with the game tied at 3-3. The extra period was uneventful until the final minute of overtime, when Matt Summers scored the game winner.

The Thunder finished the weekend off at home against the Mavericks in front of 8,002 fans, marking their largest crowd of the season. Missouri got the scoring started in the first period and RG Flath tied it up a few minutes later. With less than a minute remaining in the second period Jon Booras scored the game winner when he poked in a shot right in front of the net.

Wichita will begin a three game road trip with a single game against the Tulsa Oilers on Tuesday before heading to Rapid City for a two game series on Friday and Saturday against the league leading Rush.

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CHL Player of the Week: Jon Booras, Wichita Thunder

Wichita’s Jon Booras was recently honored as the CHL Player of the Week. Booras helped the Thunder in both wins last week, contributing three goals and two assists. The veteran forward scored two goals and added a helper as the Thunder defeated the Mallards 7-1. Booras scored the eventual game-winning goal in the second period of Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Mavericks. Booras leads Wichita with 42 points (15 G, 27 A) and has contributed 10 goals and 13 assists since the first of December for the Thunder who have won their last five games.

CHL Goalie of the Week: Keaton Hartigan, Rapid City Rush

Independence, MO - 01-10-2014 Goaltender Keaton Hartigan of the Rapid City Rush defends the goal against the Missouri Mavericks.

Independence, MO – 01-10-2014 Goaltender Keaton Hartigan of the Rapid City Rush defends the goal against the Missouri Mavericks.

Rapid City Rush netminder Keaton Hartigan was named the CHL Goalie of the week. Hartigan was a winner in both starts last week against the Denver Cutthroats. He stopped 27 of 28 shots on Friday, helping the Rush to a 4-1 win, then made 34 saves the following night, stopping all four Denver shooters in the shootout as Rapid City secured another win. Hartigan owns a 6-4-0 record with a 2.50 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

The Central Hockey League attendance records are as follows:

TEAM TOTALGamesAVERAGE
Missouri96,266185,348
Wichita89,241194,696
Tulsa98,514214,691
Rapid City85,829194,517
Allen79,534194,186
Quad City55,227163,451
Arizona39,140172,302
Brampton34,330152,288
St. Charles43,044221,956
Denver24,694181,371
 Contact the columnist at jeremiah.griffith@prohockeynews.com or via Twitter @JAGriffith_PHN

John Hall, Ed Bailey, Maurice Fitzgerald and Les Stockton contributed to this report: john.hall@prohockeynews.com, Ed.Bailey@prohockeynews.com, maurice.fitzgerald@prohockeynews.com, les.stockton@prohockeynews.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @prohockeynews

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