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Washington Wolfpack Win the AFHL Stanley Cup

May 5th, 2021

As the final seconds finally ticked off the clock in Washington on Saturday night, the players on the Wolfpack bench threw their gloves in the air and streamed onto the ice with unbridled joy. An AFHL season unlike any that had come before had finally ended, and the Wolfpack had found redemption and was more than ready to celebrate.

Washington pulled off a thrilling overtime win against the Hamilton Firestorm in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals behind goals from Patrice Bergeron and TJ Oshie, giving Washington its second championship in franchise history and first since 2010. Goaltenders Tuuka Rask and Jeremy Swayman both recorded shutouts in the series.

Rask was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason MVP after he racked up six wins, two shutouts, and a 2.20 GAA while anchoring the Wolfpack goalie crease.

“It’s a dream; it’s so unrealistic,” GM Rick Charron said of finally winning the Stanley Cup. “It’s what you dream of when you play on the streets back home when you grow up, and it’s what you imagine all the time.”

Washington’s victory ended an unconventional season in the AFHL amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. And after many months of being away from most of their family and friends and with limited capacity for fans in the buildings, Washington and Hamilton will finally get to go home.

But Washington will get to bring home the much-desired hardware that made it all worthwhile.

Team captain Patrice Bergeron was the first Wolfpack player to hoist the Cup on the ice after the game.

Bergeron then passed the Cup to Brad Marchand, and the tradition of players skating with the Cup and passing it down the entire roster continued. Bergeron said the choice to give the Cup to Marchand first was a no-brainer, describing the enigmatic winger as his “best friend on the team.”

“So many guys would do anything in the world to get the Stanley Cup,” Marchand said. “It was amazing to be a part of this run and so special to be a part of this moment.”

Without some friends and family there, Washington players took out their phones amid the celebration and FaceTimed loved ones so they, too, could take part in the experience.

“This is the best moment of our hockey lives,” Marchand said.

On the other side of spectrum, the Hamilton Firestorm locker room was quiet.

“The emotions are tough right now,” Hamilton GM Adam Zadorozny said. “I’m proud of this organization, all of these guys, the aces coming in when guys have been hurt, different guys stepping up at different times, going into that trainer’s room and seeing guys waiting on a line to get in because everyone’s got ice bags on them.”

The Firestorm were the favorites to win the Cup after eliminating the number one seeded Vikings in the prior week.

“This is going to leave a scar, there’s no doubt,” Zadorozny said. “We’ve got a group of young men in there, but they’re kids at heart and they’re crushed.”

Hamilton forward Brady Tkachuk believes the team was tired from the grueling series with the Vikings.

“Some guys just looked gassed this week,” said Tkachuk. “We didn’t have those third and fourth efforts like we did against the Vikings so pucks obviously weren’t going in for us. Not a good time to go cold, have the well go dry, especially since we carried this on the whole year. There was a lot of fight in the dog, but it just wasn’t enough.”

The Firestorm took an all-hands-on-deck approach to the playoffs, with unlikely heroes delivering in timely moments especially in the series with the Vikings, but they couldn’t come through after falling behind early on during the Finals. Instead, Washington’s story reached its final chapter, and the celebration began.

“I’m going to be a Stanley Cup champ forever,” Charron said. “My kids, my grandkids, if they look at the Stanley Cup, they’re going to see my name.”

 

*

 

The Wolfpack will bring the Cup to Washington this week as the players reunite with their friends and families.

The team is expected to arrive in Washington around 5 p.m. Wednesday and then travel to their home ice arena via open-air trolleys. When they arrive at the arena, they will participate in a private on-the-ice celebration with their families, Wolfpack staff and some VIPs.

While that event won’t be open to the public, two other events will be. Those are happening Thursday. Here’s what those are:

 

2021 Stanley Cup Champions Boat Parade

Time: 5 p.m. Thursday, May 13th

Location: Potomac River, Washington DC

Details: Fans can gather along the river, but the city is asking people to practice social distancing and suggests wearing face masks. Boaters in the water will be asked to move out of the way for the parade to make its way through. Washington police stress boaters will not be part of the parade.

 

2021 Stanley Cup Champions Celebration

Time: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 13th

Location: Washington’s home ice arena

Details:

Free Parking beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Stadium gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are free and can be claimed at ticketmaster.com, beginning at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Here’s a direct link for tickets. Ticket delivery is mobile-only.

There will be socially-distant pod seating for groups of 1-6 people. Social distancing guidelines will be in effect at the arena.

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Firestorm cap off biggest upset in AFHL History;

Defeat Vikings to advance to Cup Finals

May 3rd, 2021

Let this be a lesson.

A lesson that anything is possible, no matter the odds. A lesson in never writing off a team, no matter the circumstances. And a lesson that, no matter how good a team is in the regular season, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference come playoff time.

Yes, the Hamilton Firestorm pulled off what many thought impossible, an upset for the ages after a 6-5 win against the Shawinigan Vikings on Sunday night in the second round of the AFHL Playoffs.

Bounced.

The first place Vikings certainly crashed and the fourth place Firestorm have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals.

“It’s quite possibly the greatest victory in the history of this franchise, without question,” Firestorm owner Adam Zadorozny said, his voice hoarse. “I just want to say to all you Firestorm fans who have supported us throughout all these years, this trip back to the Finals is for you.”

The formula for Shawinigan seemed simple enough. Do what you did all regular season: score at will, steal souls on the power play and suck the will out of teams with superb goaltending.

It’s a recipe that cooked up a whopping 121 wins in a pandemic-shortened season. But when the Vikings checked the cupboards for ingredients in Round 2, the cupboard was bare.

Why you ask? The Firestorm implemented a near-perfect game plan from the drop of the puck in Game 1, onward. A relentless forecheck stifled the Vikings. A commitment to blocked shots took away scoring chances. Providing great screens in front of Andrei Vasilevskiy made a great goalie seem mediocre. And finding scoring from up and down the lineup, both on forward and defense, added a layer of guesswork that Phil Svoboda and his troops had no answer for.

“I mean, look, they played well,” Svoboda said. “They made some plays. We made some plays. In the end, they made a couple more than we did.”

Vikings star forward Alex DeBrincat sat in his stall, looking stunned, fielding questions about the loss on Sunday night.

“This sucks, yeah. Not much to say,” DeBrincat said. “It’s the playoffs. There’s no easy team. You have to give them credit. They fought hard. It wasn’t our time, I guess.”

Some are now beginning to wonder: The Vikings, despite all of their success in the regular season and being a statistical steamroller in so many ways, just might not know how to win in the playoffs.

“If you don’t accomplish the goal of winning it all, it’s a failure,” Clayton Keller said. “We don’t care about what happened in the regular season. We wanted to come in and play well. In that first round, we came out and we played well. But then in the second round we just couldn’t gain any momentum against the Firestorm. We didn’t defend well enough as a team, the entire series.”

So one is left wondering how, then, the Vikings can learn to win in the postseason; to handle adversity; to transfer what they did best in the regular season to the postseason.

Maybe it just takes time, like it did for the Firestorm.

“I don’t know,” Svoboda said. “It’s funny: We’re expected to go to the Finals this year, and we go nowhere. It’s hard to win in this league. It’s tough not to be holding up the Stanley Cup at the end. We just have to keep knocking at the door.”

Changes will come for the Vikings. They have to, after a disaster of this magnitude. But given the core, and given the ages of the core, the window remains wide open to win.

Perhaps one day, while hoisting the Cup, the Vikings will think back to how this defeat was a formative moment. Or, perhaps, they’ll think back to what might have been, as one of the greatest regular-season teams in AFHL history saw its postseason last only two weeks.

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Apr
19

2021 Trade Deadline

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The AFHL Trade Deadline

 

 

 

Deadline is at 9pm EST Tonight!!!

 

Welcome to 2021 AFHL Trade Deadline day. After weeks of speculation and reports, AFHL teams face a 9 p.m. ET deadline to make moves that will put them in better position for a Stanley Cup Playoff run or help build for the future. TheAFHL.com will have coverage all day long by Pierre LeBrun, Barry Melrose, and Bob McKenzie who is at TSN’s studios for Tradecentre.

 

10:00 am Bob McKenzie: Hey everybody! The most dramatic day of the season has arrived!!!

10:07 am Barry Melrose: Deadline Day is here!! Let the fun begin…

10:14 am Pierre LeBrun: Lots of big names on the block. Rumors are flying. I have a source telling me Fort Drum and Manhattan agreed to a blockbuster deal late last night and they have been working on the paperwork all morning. Wonder who is involved.

10:28 am Barry Melrose: Pierre, I just received a text from Fort Drum GM Steve Stryska: Confirmed – Big deal in place with Manhattan. Announcing shortly.

10:40 am Bob McKenzie: As Pierre had mentioned there are a lot of big names on the trading block today which includes Leon Draisitl in Shawinigan, Patric Hornqvist in Vancouver, and Evgeni Malkin in Moncton.

10:45 am Pierre LeBrun: Source telling me it is taking a while to finalize the trade but Semyon Varlamov is 100% heading to Manhattan. 

10:52 am Barry Melrose: The deal has been announced. First trade of the day is a big one. Fort Drum sends Semyon Varlamov, Christian Fischer, and a 2023 first to Manhattan for Anthony Beauvillier, forward prospect Mavrik Bourque, goaltending prospects Dryden McKay and Alexei Melnichuk.

10:59 am Bob McKenzie: Talk about some fireworks in the morning. Wow. Explosive deal like that sets the stage for what should be a very busy day. 

11:01 am Barry Melrose: Manhattan now has FIVE starting goalies. That is one too many goalies. Would not be surprised if Furino ships one out.

11:03 am Bob McKenzie: Comox Valley has announced Brent Burns is OTB.

11:40 am Pierre LeBrun: Just spoke on the phone to Deer Park GM Mike Nellany. He said he is looking to shake up his roster today. He wants to ship out Mike Smith who is performing very well this year and would like to acquire a younger goalie. All of his prospects and draft picks are available.

12:05 pm Barry Melrose: Washington and Port Hope are working to finalize a trade for Tyler Seguin.

12:15 pm Barry Melrose: Seguin, one of the biggest names in the league, is on his way to Port Hope along with Ryan Strome. Defensemen Jacob Trouba and Shea Theodore are headed to Washington in the return.

12:25 pm Bob McKenzie: Yep Seguin to Port Hope is official. Interesting that the first two trades are big ones that have been made between four GMs who are best friends in real life. 

2:10 pm Barry Melrose: Bizarre turn of events here on Deadline Day. The Varlamov trade to Manhattan was vetoed by the Trade Review Committee. The League Commissioner / Manhattan GM Tony Furino flipped out and said he was quitting the league.

2:12 pm Barry Melrose: According to Furino’s assistant when he flipped out he grabbed a baseball bat and smashed his office window out of frustration and anger. 

2:15 pm Barry Melrose: I just spoke with Furino and he said his wild reaction was uncalled for and he let his emotions get the best of him. He has decided to “accept the veto in an effort to focus and accomplish certain things today” because he wants to win the Cup this year but he is certainly not happy with the veto and believes it was poorly handled. He added he “cannot waste any more time on it” and is happy to keep a top forward for his Cup run and he may use those bluechip prospects in a different trade. When asked about the future with the league he replied “no comment”.

2:27 pm Pierre LeBrun: Seems like Furino needs time to process what happened today as there is a lot to unpack with multiple parties involved. Either way let’s try to switch focus and enjoy the rest of this Deadline Day.

2:31 pm Bob McKenzie: Agreed!

2:35 pm Bob McKenzie: Washington makes their second trade of the day. Nick Jensen and Jaden Schwartz to Comox Valley for Brent Burns and Ryan Suter.

3:27 pm Barry Melrose: Vancouver sends David Krejci and a 2023 Third Round Pick to Comox Valley for Ridley Greig, 2022 Third Round Pick, and 2023 Second Round Pick.

6:00 pm Bob McKenzie: Three more hours until the deadline!

6:50 pm Barry Melrose: Hearing Claude Giroux played his last game as a Mustang.

7:01 pm Barry Melrose: Confirmed. Giroux is on his way back to the Manhattan Supermen along with Evgeni Malkin and Shea Weber.

7:05 pm Barry Melrose: London to receive Anders Lee, Alex Pietrangelo, Oliver Wahlstrom, and goaltending prospect Logan Thompson in the return.

7:32 pm Bob McKenzie: Not many trades up until this point with almost an hour to go. What I have been hearing from several GMs is that there are way too many buyers this year and not enough sellers probably because of the shortened season. Lots of teams still in the playoff race right now putting a cramp on the market.

8:00 pm Pierre LeBrun: One hour until the deadline!! Talks are really starting to pick up!!

8:01 pm Barry Melrose: The Shawinigan Vikings have just traded Leon Draisitl!!! 

8:10 pm Pierre LeBrun: Big return on Draisitl – 2021 first round pick expected to be a top three pick, 2022 first round pick, Tolvanen, Kapanen, and Jack Quinn.

8:45 pm Bob McKenzie: Talks are intense right now!!!

8:48 pm Barry Melrose: Manhattan sends a 2022 3rd rounder to Fort Drum for Christian Fischer.

9:05 pm Pierre LeBrun: The trade deadline has passed.

9:07 pm <

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2020 AFHL Trade Deadline

     
February 10th, 2020 It’s a new year and a new trade deadline with a live-blog that will be your guide through this hectic and crazy day. What can you expect here? You can expect to find the latest news, rumors, breaking news and some analysis too. It’s going to be a good time, keep refreshing every hour or so, and enjoy the coverage by Pierre LeBrun, Barry Melrose, and Bob McKenzie who is at TSN’s studios for Tradecentre.  

Deadline is at 9pm EST Tonight!!!

  9:30 am Bob McKenzie: Hey everybody! Welcome to our AFHL Trade Deadline live chat extravaganza! 9:39 am Barry Melrose: Greetings all from the War Room 🙂 Should be a fun day. 9:44 am Pierre LeBrun: Hey everyone!! Changing it up again this year and drinking a beer instead of coffee!! Ready to go here in the War Room! 9:49 am Bob McKenzie: Last year there was a record number of trades on Deadline Day. I wonder if the GMs can set a new record again today… 9:50 am Pierre LeBrun: This current group of GMs this year is probably the most active group I’ve seen in my ten years of covering this league so I wouldn’t be surprised if today is crazy. 9:58 am Barry Melrose: Biggest names on the trade block entering Deadline Day: Brent Burns (Seattle), Tyson Barrie (Moncton), Torey Krug (Moncton), Derek Stepan (Hamilton), PK Subban (London), Max Domi (Shawinigan), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Port Hope), Erik Karlsson (Westbury), Zach Parise (Washington), Robin Lehner (Boston), and Jordan Staal (Laval). 10:21 am Pierre LeBrun: Fort Drum GM Stryska texted me saying it’s quiet right now although most GMs are probably still trying to plan their day. #CalmBeforeTheStorm 10:59 am Bob McKenzie: First trade of the day. It’s a big one. The defending champions, Seattle Kraken, just traded TAYLOR HALL to the Westbury Royals!!!! 11:09 am Barry Melrose: Yep. Seattle sends Taylor Hall to Westbury for prized prospects Alex Turcotte and Kristian Vesalainen, as well as a 2020 2nd Round Pick. Shocking trade. 11:15 am Pierre LeBrun: Unbelievable. How’s that for some fireworks to start the day? 11:19 am Bob McKenzie: LOL. Yes that oughta wake some people up. 11:32 am Barry Melrose: Westbury GM Stephen LeDrew has been doing a tremendous job with rebuilding that franchise. 11:50 am Pierre LeBrun: I’m hearing there is a potential trade between Hamilton and Manhattan. 12:01 pm Bob McKenzie: Text from Brent Burns regarding the persistent trade rumors: “Whatever happens, happens. I’m done thinking about it. I’m done worrying about it.” 12:29 pm Barry Melrose: Wondering what moves are in store for the Vikings today… 12:31 pm Pierre LeBrun: I think they’re in on just about everything. 12:35 pm Bob McKenzie: Asked Seattle GM Henley about the Taylor Hall trade. Here is his response: The Krakens are a small market team with a small market budget and small market values. You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you? Taylor Hall slept with my wife and had to go. Now my life is in shambles. I need a semblance of normalcy. Bob, let’s go go-carting. Let’s get root beer floats. Don’t let me be alone Bob. Bob!? 12:56 pm Barry Melrose: Elliote Friedman is reporting the Buffalo Phantoms have finally traded Sidney Crosby!! 1:06 pm Barry Melrose: Sorry folks. That was a tweet posted by a fake Elliote Friedman account on Twitter. 1:07 pm Pierre LeBrun: It’s that time of year again. Be AWARE of FAKE Twitter Accounts everybody. 1:08 pm Bob McKenzie: Pierre Lebrun just told me several GMs are saying they are still at work but the trade winds are blowing. Just like in previous years we see it pick up mid-to-late afternoon. 1:10 pm Barry Melrose: Yes, the first half of the day is usually everybody just gauging the market and kicking tires but I’m hearing there will be some high rollers today. 1:24 pm Pierre LeBrun: Second trade of the day. Vancouver trades 2020 2nd Round Pick (Comox Valley) to Montreal for two 2020 3rd Round Picks (Seattle and Toronto). 1:25 pm Pierre LeBrun: I’m hearing Montreal informed Nick Bonino he has been traded shortly after the trade with Vancouver. More picks have been moved. 1:28 pm Pierre LeBrun: Confirmed. Montreal makes another trade. Nick Bonino and a 2021 3rd Round Pick (Vancouver) heading to Hamilton for a 2020 2nd Round Pick (Washington). 1:45 pm Bob McKenzie: Comox Valley X-Men GM Pat McKenna just walked into the room, put his balls on the table, and said Johnny Gaudreau is OTB for a Top Ten 1st Round Pick and an active prospect. 2:22 pm Barry Melrose: Giants GM Mike Phelan says he is still undecided on whether to be a buyer or seller today. 2:45 pm Bob McKenzie: The Hamilton Firestorm have just acquired Chris Tierney from Long Beach for a 2020 2nd Round Pick (Vancouver). 3:10 pm Pierre LeBrun: Philip Danault was told not to go to Ice Dogs practice today. He might be Lucas’ biggest trade chip at this year’s deadline. Should be interesting to see where he ends up. 3:55 pm Barry Melrose: What are the Atlantic City Sharks going to do today? First place in the American Conference – do they just stand pat? 4:01 pm Pierre LeBrun: There’s no question in my mind the Sharks are trying to do something as significant as possible. 4:29 pm Bob McKenzie: Asked X-Men forward Johnny Gaudreau how he is spending his Deadline Day. He replied: “Eating Chipotle” 5:30 pm Pierre LeBrun: Mustangs forward Jakub Vrana is not on the ice for pregame right now. 5:35 pm Pierre LeBrun: Vrana has been traded to Seattle. Waiting for details… 5:37 pm Pierre LeBrun: London has traded Jakub Vrana, Stephen Johns, and a 2022 2nd Round Pick to Seattle for Ondrej Palat and Ivan Provorov. 5:58 pm Barry Melrose: Pierre McGuire just texted us: “Alex Killorn is going to Manhattan” 6:09 pm Bob McKenzie: Yes, the Manhattan Supermen have just dealt bluechip prospect Simon Holmstrom to Seattle for Alex Killorn. 6:22 pm Pierre LeBrun: Hearing there has been a lot of offers for Alex Ovechkin and Vancouver GM Ben Rauscher has been listening. 6:25 pm Barry Melrose: Boy, adding a player like Ovechkin could make some waves. 6:32 pm Pierre LeBrun: Port Hope and Shawinigan are closing in on a big trade right now. 6:37 pm Pierre LeBrun: The Vikings have just traded Aleksander Barkov to the Port Hope Panthers for Anthony Cirelli, Dylan Strome, and a 2020 1st Round Pick (Port Hope). 6:44 pm Bob McKenzie: Quiet in Fort Drum today, eh? 6:46 pm Pierre LeBrun: I guess Killers GM Steve Stryska is sitting on his hands. 6:53 pm Barry Melrose: Teams are definitely talking a lot now as we approach only two hours left! 7:05 pm Pierre LeBrun: Lucas has just agreed to a deal with Rick. 7:07 pm Pierre LeBrun: Long Beach trades Tyler Ennis to Washington in exchange for Zach Aston-Reese, Adam Pelech, and Jon Gillies. Nice trade. 7:26 pm Bob McKenzie: Lots of rumors flying right now – hearing several big deals are currently in the works. 7:34 pm Barry Melrose: Montreal sends forward Calle Jarnkrok to Boston for a 2021 3rd Round Pick. 7:37 pm Bob McKenzie: The Brent Burns Sweepstakes finally has a winner. Seattle trades Burns to Washington for Chris Kreider and Jack Drury. 7:51 pm Pierre LeBrun: The trade pot is boiling!! 8:00 pm Barry Melrose: One more hour until the Trade Deadline!!!! 8:11 pm Pierre LeBrun: London makes another trade. Mikael Backlund to Comox Valley for Vladislav Kamenev and Landen Bow. 8:25 pm Barry Melrose: Comox Valley trades Johnny Gaudreau to Port Hope for Christian Dvorak, 2020 1st (Vikings), and 2021 1st (Port Hope). 8:39 pm Pierre LeBrun: Boston trades Curtis McEhlinney to Comox Valley for a 2022 3rd Round Pick. 8:44 pm Bob McKenzie: Montreal trades Lars Eller to Comox Valley for a 2021 3rd Round Pick. 8:52 pm Pierre LeBrun: EVERYBODY IS RUSHING!!!! LAST MINUTE DEALS!!!! 9:00 pm Bob McKenzie: The Commissioner has made a statement: “In honor of our ten year anniversary, we are extending the deadline by TEN MINUTES!!” 9:30 pm Barry Melrose: Another year and another wild finish. Too many trades to recap in the final ten minutes. Please refer to the Fantrax Transactions Board for the remaining deals as we are exhausted and going to bed!! Goodnight all!! And Long Live the AFHL!!!!!
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Famous Dobber from DobberHockey.com

Currently Mulling Over Joining the A?

October 13th, 2020

The AFHL Commissioner is still waiting to hear back from Daryl Dobbs on Tuesday night, after he approached the legendary fantasy hockey guru about taking over a franchise in the league.

“This is a very exciting development for the AFHL for obvious reasons,” said Fort Drum Killers GM Steven Stryska. “Dobber has so many championship rings that he can’t even wear them all at once.”

A number of reports suggested that Dobber is considering accepting the offer to join the league, however, Dobber’s agent didn’t respond to a request for comment.

While many have assumed Dobber would be given the reins to Atlantic City’s franchise—a top five roster in the league that is currently in a ‘win now’ mode – it remains unclear whether that particular offer is on the table.

“There has been some back and forth,” Commissioner Furino told TheAFHL.com earlier today. “He keeps saying he is busy and is starting to think about retirement, but how can you go into retirement without being able to say you won a championship in the AFHL?”

Seems like the Commissioner is challenging the famous Dobber but Dobber will have to decide what he wants personally, and whether or not joining such a competitive league is worth his time.

“Look, he’s a big fish and all of these guys are hoping he joins,” Furino said. “Many fingers are crossed that he won’t let us down and help make this the most memorable season ever. Not a lot of people can say they competed against Dobber. We would all love to have that opportunity.”

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Feb
10

2019 AFHL Awards

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2019 AFHL Awards

Norris Trophy
Awarded annually to the Amazing Fantasy Hockey League’s top defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position (consider offensive stats, hits, and contribution to team success).

NOMINEES:

  • Brent Burns, Toronto Red Devils
  • Mark Giordano, Atlantic City Sharks
  • John Carlson, Shawinigan Vikings

And the winner is… Brent Burns, Toronto Red Devils

Calder Trophy
Awarded annually to the Amazing Fantasy Hockey League’s best rookie in the regular season.

NOMINEES:

  • Jordan Binnington, Cape Breton Crunch
  • Rasmus Dahlin, Port Hope Panthers
  • Elias Pettersson, Atlantic City Sharks

And the winner is… Elias Pettersson, Atlantic City Sharks

Trash Talker Trophy
Awarded annually to the best trash talking GM in the Amazing Fantasy Hockey League.

NOMINEES:

  • Deer Park Chiefs GM Mike Nellany
  • Pittsburgh Heroes GM Jason Henley
  • Buffalo Phantoms GM Daryn Beckman

And the winner is… Buffalo Phantoms GM Daryn Beckman

Laugh Out Loud Trophy
Awarded annually to the GM judged to be the best at making fun of anyone and/or anything. The funny GM says things that are completely unexpected and different from the norm to surprise people. Basic categories of humor include absurdity, exaggeration, mockery/ridicule, verbal humor. A funny GM is at his best when he forgets himself. He says the first thing that comes into his head and doesn’t even try to be funny. He throws himself into an unknown future and doesn’t even think about limits or boundaries. He’s relaxed and loose and bold. He’ll just go for it. He’ll go off on some crazy tangent. A funny GM lives in the moment and sometimes he just doesn’t give a fuck.

NOMINEES:

  • Pittsburgh Heroes GM Jason Henley
  • Deer Park Chiefs GM Mike Nellany
  • Comox Valley GM Pat McKenna
  • Buffalo Phantoms GM Daryn Beckman

And the winner is… Pittsburgh Heroes GM Jason Henley

Vezina Trophy
Awarded annually to the Amazing Fantasy Hockey League’s best goaltender.

NOMINEES:

  • Andrei Vasilevsky, Shawinigan Vikings
  • Sergei Bobrovsky, Boston Giants
  • Ben Bishop, Atlantic City Sharks

And the winner is… Ben Bishop, Atlantic City Sharks

Hart Trophy (MVP)
Awarded annually to the player judged most valuable to his team in the Amazing Fantasy Hockey League during the regular season.

NOMINEES:

  • Connor McDavid, Pittsburgh Heroes
  • Ben Bishop, Atlantic City Sharks
  • Andrei Vasilevsky, Shawinigan Vikings
  • Nikita Kucherov, Pittsburgh Heroes
  • Marc-Andre Fleury, Manhattan Supermen

And the winner is… Nikita Kucherov, Pittsburgh Heroes

Jack Adams Award
Awarded annually to the Amazing Fantasy Hockey League’s “Best” Coach/GM of the Year.
Important skills to be considered: winning, trading, brewing rivalries, posting on message boards, being active on a regular basis, and having fun.

NOMINEES:

  • Shawinigan Vikings GM Phil Svoboda
  • Pittsburgh Heroes GM Jason Henley
  • Manhattan Supermen GM Tony Furino

And the winner is… Pittsburgh Heroes GM Jason Henley

ALL-TIME TROPHY TOTALS PER TEAM:


Pittsburgh Heroes – 18
Toronto Red Devils – 15
Deer Park Chiefs – 13
Port Hope Panthers – 9
Buffalo Phantoms – 9
Atlantic City Sharks – 9
San Diego Gulls – 6
Washington Wolfpack – 6
Lakehead Ice Holes – 6
Hamilton Firestorm – 5
Boston Giants – 3
London Mustangs – 2
Manhattan Supermen – 2
Philadelphia Crunch – 2
Montreal Xtreme -1
Oshawa City Leafs – 1
Twin City Vikings – 1
Comox Valley X-Men – 1

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The Tao of Lucas: Hall-of-Fame GM leaves San Diego for Cape Breton,

Fan Favorite GM Ben Rauscher Returns to the AFHL to Replace Him

July 23rd, 2019

The Cape Breton Crunch have just taken a massive step forward in turning their franchise around. They have hired two-time Stanley Cup winner Lucas Main to be their next head coach/GM.

Lucas officially resigned from the San Diego Gulls on Monday after successfully rebuilding the team and coaching them to back-to-back AFHL Stanley Cup championships in 2017 and 2018.

“When you step down you take some chances,” Lucas said. “I decided it was time to go in a different direction. I love the idea of rebuilding the worst team in the league and making it a championship team. That’s what I did with the San Diego team. Granted, when I took over the San Diego team it wasn’t the worst so this time the stakes are a little higher. Cape Breton is undoubtedly the worst team in this league but I want to cement my legacy as the best GM in the history of this league.”

Terms of Lucas’ contract were not released.

“He brings experience, he brings knowledge and he brings success, which is the most important thing,” the AFHL Commissioner said. “You have to win. He knows how to win, and he’s a good human being. So I think he’s a great role model for what we’re trying to do as far as bring to the organization.”

Lucas replaces Liam Goyetche who stepped down after years of trying to rebuild the team into a contender.

“I think that what we had said [was] we would try to get the best coach available, and when time is on your side, you use it,” the AFHL Comissioner said. “We were in no rush to hire Liam’s replacement. There were several people that we considered.”

The Cape Breton Crunch finished last season with the worst record in the league (63-163-38).

“There are some nice pieces I can build with,” Lucas said. “Jordan Binnington in net and Jeff Skinner up front. A few good prospects in the pipeline. I can work with all of that. However, there’s alot of work to be done, there’s no question, but at the same time, I know I need to be patient and the fans need to be patient.”

Lucas knows he’s got his work cut out for him but patience is the key.

“I know I need to be patient,” said Lucas. “The fans need to be patient as well. One move at a time. But I’m excited. I’m excited to come to Cape Breton and turn this ship around. It’s a great hockey town and when this building gets loud, it’s one of the loudest I’ve ever been to.”

*

San Diego found the successor to their two-time Stanley Cup-winning coach on Tuesday morning when he Ben Rauscher was officially announced as the new GM of the Gulls.

Rauscher is a highly regarded coach/GM who competed in the AFHL back in 2009 – the AFHL’s inaugural year – and was the man who laid the foundation of the Pittsburgh Heroes franchise, one of the most storied franchises in the history of the league. He was quite possibly the most active and vocal GM the AFHL has ever seen.

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Ben Rauscher Clashes with Chiefs GM Mike Nellany in 2009

“We feel that Ben is the perfect leader for this hockey club,” the AFHL Commissioner said in a statement. “Based on his hockey knowledge, coaching experience, communication abilities, his approach to the game and the respect he commands in locker rooms, we feel that Ben deserves this opportunity to compete right away.”

The Comissioner confirmed that Rauscher is the only person they interviewed to succeed Lucas.

“He’s got history with this league and he has already proven his worth,” the Commissioner said. “I think he can handle the personalities in this league.”

Rauscher will take over a team whose core looks very much intact from the group that won the Cup two seasons ago and with players like Claude Giroux, Alex

Ovechkin, and John Gibson, the Gulls are expected to contend for another title this year.

“I look forward to keeping the tradition going,” Rauscher said at Tuesday’s press conference. “But in order so, I need to restock the the prospect shelf to be able to make this one of the top A teams for years to come. For the other GMs, I enjoy trade talks and am always willing to listen to offers and work to make deals that are good for everyone involved… but make no doubt that I look after my squad first and foremost. Active and available, I love hockey and can’t wait to get started.”

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Pittsburgh Heroes and 650,000 Fans

Celebrate Stanley Cup at Parade

April 22nd, 2019

Pittsburgh Heroes GM Jason Henley didn’t have much of a voice left after a couple weeks of celebrating with the Stanley Cup. But he had a special quote he wanted to deliver to Heroes fans.

“I have four words for you,” Henley said, looking out at the thousands of fans packed in before him outside the Heroes home ice arena. “I’m going to paraphrase from one of the greatest Americans of all time: ‘We had a dream.’”

If it seems a bit absurd to hear Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted to celebrate a Stanley Cup championship—well, that’s fair, but it was par for the course in a team celebration that’s been so consistently giddy as to make everything seem a little absurd. For the first time in franchise history, the Heroes have won it all, and they’ve spent these past few weeks celebrating all over the city of Pittsburgh. With Tuesday’s official victory parade, they kept the celebration going.

The players rode double-decker buses down a six-block stretch through a teeming crowd. When they reached their final destination—a stage constructed in front of the Heroes home ice arena, surrounded by still more fans—their names were called one by one, each player invited to step forward and take the spotlight to himself for a moment. An impressive range of behaviors followed. Connor McDavid, for example, chugged a beer. Nikita Kucherov chugged a beer while being lifted in the air by some teammates. Braden Holtby chugged a beer while displaying a custom wrestling-style championship belt. Wayne Simmonds pulled his jersey over his head in order to chug a beer through it.

The crowd had been waiting along the parade route for hours, with some who arrived even before the sun rose. One man said that he’d spent the night driving down from upstate New York to set up by 6 a.m. He was standing next to a local couple who’d gotten there even earlier—bringing along their eight-month-old daughter, who was somehow resting peacefully in her stroller despite the thousands of people cheering and screaming around her. But the wait was worth it, everyone agreed, no matter how long it had been. After all, in a different sense, many had been waiting for years. They held signs that read “We Lived to See It” and “Now I Can Die in Peace” and “Born in 2009 + Waited My Entire Lifetime.” Now, at last, they had nothing left to wait for.

“There’s been a lot of chants,” Henley told the fans at one point. “There’s been, ‘Let’s go Heroes.’ There’s been, ‘We want the Cup.’ We heard in the streets, ‘We’ve got the Cup.’ We got a new one for you tonight—today,” he quickly corrected himself, though the crowd didn’t seem to notice his mistake, much less care anything about what time of day it was. “Back-to-back!”

That chant created a roar that could be heard from miles away.

“I couldn’t see the end of people from the stage,” forward Brandon Dubinsky said. “This is home. This city has made us feel so welcome. It’s unbelievable to give back the least we could and just celebrate with them.”

Henley said the multinational makeup of the roster makes the Heroes the perfect team for Pittsburgh.

“We’ve got Americans, we’ve got Canadians, we’ve got Swedes,” he said. “We got Russians, we got Czechs. We’ve got rookies. We got veterans. We got great people. It sounds just like Pittsburgh and the community of Pittsburgh.”

Henley and the players repeatedly thanked Heroes fans, with some calling them the best in hockey.

“I just want to thank all of you guys,” Connor McDavid said. “This is something we’ve dreamed of for quite some time, and to see you guys out there today celebrating with us, we’re absolutely nothing without you guys. So thank you very much.”

Defenseman Seth Jones said he’s not worried about what offseason changes Henley might have to make in an attempt to repeat next year. He wants to enjoy this moment right now.

“We’re just happy to be here celebrating with each other,” he said. “It takes a lot, and that’s what we’re so proud of, is how much we had to give and how many times we got knocked down. We just did whatever it took and maybe won on a year that people said we didn’t deserve it or we didn’t have the talent on our team to do it. I think that makes it sweeter too.”

Braden Holtby was the final speaker at the rally. He restarted the “back-to-back” chants, then gathered his teammates at the front of the stage to sing what’s become the Heroes’ new anthem, Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”

After the singing and one final celebration video, Holtby grabbed the microphone for a parting message:

“We’re the Stanley Cup champions!!!!”

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The Pittsburgh Heroes Win

the 2019 AFHL Stanley Cup!!

 

April 8th, 2019

Across their 10 seasons, the Pittsburgh Heroes dabbled in hapless hockey and exquisite hockey, boring hockey and effective hockey, but never had they played winning hockey through three playoff rounds, all the way to a grueling, glorious end.

It took a team hardened by postseason failures but liberated from high expectations to complete a run as dazzling as it was cathartic, capping it on Sunday night by dispatching the Manhattan Supermen, 8-2, to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Victor Arvidsson scored the final goal of the game with 7 minutes 27 seconds remaining, another powerplay point and eventual game winning tally. The Heroes’ bench erupted, and Arvidsson hopped away as if dancing.

The party started in earnest when the buzzer sounded and the Heroes’ bench emptied and swarmed goalie Braden Holtby, who provided an iconic moment of the finals late in the series, when he lunged across the crease to stop an unstoppable puck and post the 4th win of the series for the Heroes. Despite being injured in the final game, Conor McDavid zipped onto the ice, his helmet off and his hands on his head, mind blown that he had just captured his first AFHL Stanley Cup.

McDavid, awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs’ most valuable player, struggled to conjure words in an interview with NBC on the ice immediately after the win, and then again when surrounded by the news media. When McDavid hoisted the Cup, he released a primal scream.

“It’s even better than I imagined,” said McDavid, who joined 9 other greats as the only players to win a Conn Smythe. “It’s just like a dream.”

The Heroes outlasted Manhattan with the same elements that propelled them past Comox Valley and the defending Champion San Diego Gulls: stifling neutral-zone defense, superb goaltending by Holtby and waves of prolific talent headlined by McDavid, Nikita Kucherov and Mitch Marner. Unlike past Pittsburgh teams puffed with stars that collapsed in the playoffs, this group conveyed a certain resilience that infused their play, in games and throughout series.

As for the Manhattan Supermen, facing elimination on Sunday, they confronted their predicament with defiance. Opening their pregame festivities, a video implored fans not to give up — if the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and the New England Patriots in 2017 could overcome imposing deficits, then so, they hoped, could Manhattan.

“After you get past the losing here, you can look back and be pretty proud of the group in here and the run they made,” said Manhattan defenseman Keith Yandle. “Halfway through the year, everyone had us pegged to not make the playoffs. To be standing here today, as bad as it feels, you’ve got to be proud of the group in here.”

In contrast to these Supermen, when Pittsburgh GM Jason Henley took over the Heroes, the team compiled a record that is regarded as one of the worst seasons in league history as Henley began a total rebuild.

After several drafts and many trades, the franchise has matured and is now considered a perennial contender in the AFHL.

“These past couple seasons, it felt like we were like, ‘We can win it all this year,’” Henley said. “This year, it was more so like, ‘We’re going to work this year, and we’re going to outwork teams. We’re going to play longer than they are.’ And we did that. We did that throughout the whole playoffs.”

Henley spoke in a stream of consciousness, at one point apologizing for rambling. When he finally found his family on the ice, he cradled his baby daughter and told her, “We won the trophy!”

All around him in the stands were thousands of Heroes fans, if not more, who assembled an hour before face-off, chanting, “Let’s go, Heroes!” Clad in yellow, they soon filled in sections in the upper and lower bowls, forming a far larger presence than they had in either of the first two games here, and it seemed like the entire arena stood and screamed joyously after Arvidsson scored.

“It took years,” said Henley. “Years of heartbreak. Years of breaking things down and trying again, breaking things down and trying again, and this group never gave up and we finally did it.”

Henley has discussed the Heroes’ postseason struggles openly, often comparing his teams to others that foundered before winning, like the Islanders dynasty of the early 1980s and the Detroit Red Wings of the mid-1990s.

“All of these experiences,” Henley said recently, “help you find out how much you can take and how much you can give.”

For years, the Heroes took and took and gave and gave, and now, with nothing more to take and nothing left to give, there is but one thing left for them to do: celebrate.

Because they, after 10 seasons, are finally champions.

*

Stanley Cup Parade Set for Next Monday @ 11am EST

Fans will have a chance to celebrate the Pittsburgh Heroes’ 2019 Stanley Cup championship at the Heroes Parade, scheduled for next Monday at 11 a.m. in downtown Pittsburgh.

The route will begin on Grant Street at Liberty Avenue, travel along Grant Street to the Boulevard of the Allies, turn right onto the Boulevard of the Allies, turn right onto Commonwealth Place and end at the intersection of Penn Avenue and Commonwealth Place, at the entrance to Point State Park. A stage will be set up on the lawn (city side) of Point State Park, where Heroes players, coaches, broadcasters and other team officials will make celebratory remarks.

Heroes players and hockey operations staffers will ride in vehicles provided by RAM Trucks, the official truck of the Heroes.

Once at Point State Park, Heroes players and coaches will take part in the Championship Celebration presented by KeyBank.

To help fans enjoy the day, KeyBank is providing free parking at the following lots starting at 9 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis:

15th Avenue and Smallman Lot, at 1501 Smallman St.
Green 22 Lot, at the intersection of Allegheny and Ridge
Gold Garage, next to Heinz Field

KeyBank also will be distributing water and premium items at the main stage and via mobile “pedicabs” riding along the route.

In addition, KeyBank will activate a mobile photo share experience where roaming photographers will walk the parade route to take photos of celebrating fans. The photos will be emailed to each fan, who can then follow a link to a branded retrieval page to download it or share it socially.

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2019 AFHL Stanley Cup Finals Media Day

Players speak fondly of Cup;

Game 1 ticket prices are surging

March 25th, 2019

There will be a new team name on the Stanley Cup when the 2019 Stanley Cup Final is finished.

Will it be the Manhattan Supermen, who have waited 10 long seasons and were defeated the one time they made it to the Finals in 2013?

“We worked so hard to get back here,” said Manhattan Coach Tony Furino, who has led this team since inception 10 years ago. “So, it’s a great feeling, especially the way we did it, the way we played against the Sharks and the #1 seeded Vikings. It was outstanding from everybody.”

Or will it be the American Conference winning Pittsburgh Heroes who lost in the Finals during overtime in Game 7 to the Gulls in 2017?

Pittsburgh has been dominant all year, defeated the X-Men in Round 1 and the defending champs in Round 2.

“[Manhattan has] bought in,” Pittsburgh forward Sean Monahan said. “They’re playing as a team. They’re willing to do anything to win. They’re physical. They can score goals. They have skill. We played a very similar team in Comox Valley. That being said, we’re going to have to be hard on their top guys.”

But it was the AFHL Stanley Cup that stole the spotlight at Media Day on Monday.

For a few hours, in four groups, players and coaches on the Pittsburgh Heroes and those of the Manhattan Supermen answered hundreds of questions during 2019 Stanley Cup Final Media Day at the Heroes home ice arena.

And yet the players would scarcely even glance at the Cup, much less study it. There are customs in hockey that are to be obeyed, and this was one: feel free to look quickly, only in passing, but do not touch until you’ve won.

Both teams have been here once before but neither team has actually won the Holy Grail.

If the players were politely ignoring the Stanley Cup, they were happy to pay it reverence with their thoughts, considering aloud what they find most beautiful about it.

“Just the history of it, seeing all the names on it, what it represents,” said Heroes goaltender Braden Holtby. “When you look at it, (you think of) what it’s gone through. If it could speak, the stories it could tell …

“Even people who don’t necessarily know what it is, when they see it, it commands that attention. That’s pretty special. And just what guys have gone through and played through to get it, the experiences with it after, everything that comes along with it, the joy that comes along with winning, all those things combined,” Holtby said of the Cup’s magic.

David Perron, one of Manhattan’s key trade deadline acquisitions, was seated Monday just a few stick-lengths from the Cup he’s played for once but not won.

“It’s great looking. It’s the best trophy in sports to me,” said Perron. “The playoffs are so long. It’s a grind, essentially three seven-game series, and it takes a toll on your body.”

Heroes forward Nikita Kucherov, who won the Cup before with the San Diego Gulls, spoke to the trophy’s history.

“If you ever get a chance to win it,” he said, “you know you’re always going to be on it, or in the Hall of Fame (vault).”

Heroes captain Conor McDavid, too, is dazzled by the Cup because it is both perfect and imperfect.

“The sheer history of it is the coolest thing,” McDavid said. “So many legends have held that Cup from players like Evgeni Malkin and Nicklas Lidstrom to coaches like Chris Hartley and Lucas Main.”

*

Ticket Prices Go Through the Roof

“We have not locked in on tickets yet,” a Manhattan Supermen fan said on Monday morning. “They’re pretty expensive — way more than the entire trip to Pittsburgh. So there’s a chance we just go out there to be around the experience and not get in the game.”

Manhattan area sports fans went to bed in a delirious, blissful state that many hadn’t experienced in a generation. Anyone waking up Monday hoping for an up-close view of the Pittsburgh series opener against Supermen was met with a stern, pricey reality.

The cheapest seats available Monday morning on Ticketmaster — the AFHL’s official partner — cost $914 apiece. On StubHub, they were $983. Vivid Seats had one for $828, but the rest were at least $920. SeatGeek listed tickets for as low as $908, a price that jumped to more than $1,100 with fees.

To take a family of four to tonight’s Game 1, you would have to fork over a minimum of $3,632. And that’s to sit in the cheap seats. Add in parking, drinks, and food at the arena and your three-hour outing will be pushing $5,000.

It was sobering news for Supermen fans who were excited about a Pittsburgh trip.

The high prices have forced others to get creative — even if it’s only in jest.

“Anyone need a kidney? I need money for Supermen finals tickets!! DM for real inquiries” — Michael Spriggs on Twitter (@MSpriggs3) March 25, 2019

As of Monday morning, Michael Spriggs — who had offered up his kidney to raise funds for tickets — said no one had taken him up on his offer, but he wasn’t yet pulling the offer from the table.

“I honestly have no idea what the going rate for a kidney would be,” he said.

And yet others were ready to pay whatever it will take to get inside Pittsburgh’s Home Ice Arena for Game 1 of the Finals. Another fan and his friends are torn between two choices: going to Pittsburgh for Games 1 and 2, or waiting until Game 5. Not attending any of those games? That’s not an option.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for this, obviously,” the fan said Monday morning. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get this chance again. I mean, this is my life, basically. I’ve always wanted this.”

Many fans are already expecting tickets to start running four figures by mid-day. Of course, the secondary market for tickets could always drop. The tickets for Games 3 and 4 in Manhattan are similarly priced, which means many Supermen fans — at least non-season-ticket-holders or those who haven’t been saving their money since the team’s last visit to the Finals seven years ago — could be priced out.

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The Amazing Fantasy Hockey League (AFHL) is a lifetime keeper fantasy hockey league that consists of 20 franchised teams, of which 10 are located in Canada, and 10 are located in the United States. The AFHL is in no way shape or form affiliated with the NHL or the NHLPA and all teams logos and players names are their property.