CHL Weekly: Top teams stumble, giving up four points

Allen Americans (19-10-2; 40 points) 3rd place

Allen may finally have turned the corner after struggling through much of December, the Americans have now strung together five straight wins including two over first place Rapid City. Bryan Pitton has played exceptionally well as of late with consecutive starts and the team has responded with a tighter defensive game than they’ve showed in a while.

With the potential season ending injury of Trevor Ludwig, the Americans will now be hard pressed if another D man falls to injury. On a high note for the Ludwig family, brother Tyler continues to shine with seven points (6g, 1a) in the last five games for Allen. Allen has now crept to within one point of second place Missouri.

The Americans will host the Denver Cutthroats for a two-game set this weekend before travelling to Tulsa for a Sunday matinee.

Arizona Sundogs (12-18-1; 25 points) 9th place

The Sundogs edged closer to overtaking the Wichita Thunder for the last playoff spot, picking up four points out of six possible points. Arizona closed out their three-game series with Denver, suffering a one-goal loss before they took to the road and picked up two wins at Wichita. Brandon Coccimiglio and newest Sundog David Rutherford had two goals and on assist each to propel Arizona past Wichita 6-3 on Friday. Andrew Engelage turned back all 29 Thunder shots during a 3-0 shutout on Saturday.

Coccimiglio’s 12 points in his seven games with Arizona, combined with his 14 game total while at Tulsa is enough to give him 30 points on the season. Paul McIlveen is a close second with 29 points. The Sundogs close out their current road trip this weekend with games at St. Charles and Quad City.

 

Brampton Beast (16-14-2) 6th Place

The Brampton Beast picked up four points this weekend after defeating the second place Missouri Mavericks two nights in-a-row in Missouri. Brampton came out scoring early in both games, winning the first game on friday night 4-3 and then turning around and winning the second game 7-4. Both games were intense and very physical, but ultimately the Beast prevailed.

Independence, MO - Jan 4th, 2014 Missouri Mavericks vs Brampton Beast The Brampton Beast celebrate a hard fought victory in game two of the two game series in Missouri.

The Brampton Beast celebrate a hard fought victory in game two of the two game series in Missouri on Jan. 4 / Photo by Jeremiah Griffith

Forward Rob Collins continues to sit atop the leaderboard with 34 points consisting of 11 goals and 23 assists, while forward Matt Caruana continues to sit in second place with 24 points. Scott Howes had a strong weekend after having contributed six of the 11 Beast goals.

Brampton will travel to St. Charles and Quad City this week where they will look to continue climbing upward.

Denver Cutthroats (16-9-6; 38 points) 4th place

The Fish closed out their series with the Sundogs on New Year’s Eve with a win, taking the series 2-1. Denver continued their winning ways with back-to-back victories over the Oilers, including a 2-0 shutout win for Kent Patterson who made 41 stops while Jean-Philipp Chabot netted both goals in the win.

Garett Bembridge has moved ahead of Tulsa’s Todd Robinson in league scoring with five points (1g, 4a) in his last three games. Denver trails Allen by two points as they sit in fourth place in the standings. The look to jump ahead of the Americans as they travel to Allen for two games this weekend following a Wednesday night game at St. Charles.

 

Missouri Mavericks (20-9-1; 41 points) 2nd Place

The Missouri Mavericks fell to the Brampton Beast twice this past weekend giving up a potential four points. The Mavericks came out looking to control the ice, and instead allowed the Beast to score early in both games. That early lead left Missouri struggling to come back.  Once the Mavericks were able to come back, however, the Beast applied the pressure and finished strong with a win in both games.

Independence, MO - Jan 4th, 2014 Missouri Mavericks forward Mike Ramsay takes down Brampton Scott Howes during the third period.

Missouri Mavericks forward Mike Ramsay takes down Brampton’s Scott Howes during the third period of their game on Jan. 4. / Photo by Jeremiah Griffith

Forward Sebastien Thinel continues to sit atop the Missouri leaderboard with 40 points consisting of 10 goals and 30 assists while forward Eric Castonguay continues to sit in second place with 30 points consisting of 14 goals and 16 assists.

The Mavericks will remain home this weekend where they will take on the first place Rapid City Rush in a battle for first. The Mavs have won three of five against the Rush this season.

Quad City Mallards (16-7-5; 37 points) 5th place

The Mallards split a pair of games against the St. Charles Chill last week, with each team winning in the other’s building. Quad City entered the third period with a 3-1 lead before allowing goals short handed, on the power play and at even strength as the Chill handed them a 4-3 loss at home. It was all Mallards the following night as Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel scored twice and Thomas Heemskerk stopped all 29 Chill shots during a 5-0 win in St. Charles.

Jim McKenzie, Mike Stinziani and Gergo Nagy are tied for the team point lead with 24 each. In all, the Mallards have 12 players in double-digit scoring. The Mallards open a three-game homestand against Brampton on Wednesday before hosting Wichita and Arizona over the weekend.

Rapid City Rush (22-7-0; 44 points) 1st place

The Rush set a new CHL record, remaining undefeated on the road for 12 games during their amazing run this season. They would not see 13 wins on the road however, as the Americans played spoilers, defeating them twice this weekend and chasing league-leading goaltender Tim Boron from the net on Saturday night after an explosive three goal first period for Allen.

Although the Rush are still in first place, the field is beginning to catch up and close in on them. Is this a temporary setback for Rapid, who have been nothing short of spectacular this season or are the chinks in the armor beginning to show? The Rush will host Tulsa for the first time this season before heading to Missouri for a two-game series with the Mavericks this weekend.

 

St. Charles Chill (8-21-4; 20 points) 10th place

The St. Charles Chill continued to struggle this past week, dropping two out of three games. Their sole victory was at Quad City where they narrowly defeated the Mallards 4-3. The St. Charles powerplay unit continued to struggle as they went a dismal two-for-11 over the past three games.

Chill forward Kyle OKane continues to sit atop the Chill leaderboard with 22 points consisting of 13 goals and nine assists, whereas forward Jordan Fox ties him with 22 points consisting of 7 goals and 15 assists.  It is interesting to note that at present there is not a single player on the Chill roster with a positive +/- rating.

The Chill will remain home this week where they will take on Brampton, Denver and Arizona.

 

Tulsa Oilers (16-17-2; 34 points) 7th place

It was a rough week for the Oilers as they lost all three road-games while managing to score just four goals. Tulsa held a 1-0 lead heading into the third period at Missouri on New Year’s Eve, only to give up four goals in the final period and suffer a 4-2 loss to the Mavericks. The Oilers then went on to lose 4-2 and 2-0 to Denver on consecutive nights in Aspen, Colorado.

Todd Robinson continues to lead the team with 47 points, while Ben Gordon follows with 41. Michel Beausoleil, who scored his 700th career point at Missouri Tuesday night, is second behind Adam Pleskach with 18 goals on the year. The Oilers finally take on the league-leading Rapid City Rush tonight, before heading home for three games over the weekend. Tulsa will host Brampton on Friday and Saturday before they welcome the Allen Americans for a Sunday matinee at the BOK Center.

Wichita Thunder (11-17-4; 26 points) 8th place

Just when the Thunder seem to take one step forward, they follow by taking two steps back. Wichita, fresh off a four-game winning streak, dropped all three games last week. The Thunder suffered a 5-3 setback at Allen on New Year’s Eve, before dropping two home games against the Arizona Sundogs, 6-3 and 3-0, respectively. The lone bright spot of the week for the Thunder was Matt Robinson’s 100th career point. Robinson’s milestone came by way of a second period goal on Friday night.

The Thunder have just one game on the schedule this week, as they will travel to Quad City on Friday night.

 

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CHL Player of the Week: Scott Howes, Brampton Beast

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Howes contributed six goals and two assists during two big wins at Missouri. He finished the weekend with a +6 rating while adding the game winner during Friday’s 4-3 victory over the Mavericks. Howes has accumulated eight goals and six assists in just seven games with the Brampton Beast.

CHL Goalie of the Week: Thomas Heemskerk, Quad City Mallards

Thomas Heemskerk was named as the CHL Goalie of the Week on Tuesday, after posting a perfect 2-0 record last week. Heemskerk (9-1-3) stopped 60 of 62 shots he faced in those two games, recording his second shutout of the year by stopping all 29 shots he faced against St. Charles on Saturday. His. 2.50 goals against average ranks him second in the league and his .919 save percentage is fourth best.

The Central Hockey League attendance records are as follows:
TEAMTOTALGamesAVERAGE
Missouri79,131155,275
Tulsa75,167164,697
Rapid City68,400154,560
Wichita75,479174,439
Allen66,655164,165
Quad City43,896133,376
Brampton27,981122,331
Arizona34,341152,289
St. Charles38,006192,000
Denver24,694181,371

Contact the columnist at jeremiah.griffith@prohockeynews.com or via Twitter @JAGriffith_PHN

John Hall and Maurice Fitzgerald contributed to this report:  john.hall@prohockeynews.com, maurice.fitzgerald@prohockeynews.com

Follow us on Twitter: @prohockeynews

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