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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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Mar
11

Playoffs Preview 2019

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2019 AFHL Playoffs Preview

Gulls Take Aim at Three-Peat

+ Fun Festivities Around the League

 

March 11th, 2019

When Lucas Main dares to dream, it often turns into reality.

The San Diego Gulls GM has won the Stanley Cup two years in a row. Now he is looking to make it three. This year however, he said, is different. This year, the immediate goal ahead seems surreal.

No matter. In Lucas’ mind, as always, it’s achievable.

If Lucas and the Gulls can grind their way through three rounds of playoff hockey in the next month, they would set yet another record as the only team to have won three consecutive Stanley Cups. They already hold the record as the only team to win twice. The significance of the feat is not lost on the Gulls leader.

“It would be incredible,” he said. “I mean …”

The usually chatty Lucas paused. He was at a loss for words.

He nodded in the direction of the banners recognizing the 2017 and 2018 Cup championships on the wall of the Gulls dressing room.

“When someone asks me about three, I couldn’t imagine what three would feel like,” he said.

“I know what two feels like. You’re pinching yourself because you know it’s so hard and you don’t know how you are going to do it. That group found a way. I think we used more than 30 players to win that second one last year.

“To know that feeling and to know how difficult it was to achieve that, [three] would be an unbelievable feeling.”

One he strives to experience.

“I’d love to have another parade back home,” Lucas said. “I think it’s mandatory for those parades to be on the hottest day of the year but it’s worth it. We have a long way to go before that happens.”

The road to a three-peat will run through the Laval Nomads to start. San Diego and Laval will play in the First Round, the first ever playoff series between the two teams. San Diego hosts Game 1 tonight (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, AFHL.TV).

 

***

 

Ticket sales and fun festivities have begun around the league in the AFHL. Here are some of the cool things happening around this year’s playoff teams…

SHARKS PENALTY BOX AT RENAISSANCE PLAZA

-Sharks fans can show off their excitement today for the Atlantic City Sharks’ playoff run by stopping by the Renaissance Plaza Mall and taking a picture in the Sharks’ Penalty Box.

-Fans are encouraged to show off their picture with #GoSharksGo on Twitter or Instagram and they might just win a Sharks’ signed items, “Go Sharks Go” merchandise, or even playoff tickets!

TATTOOS AND FACE PAINTING AT LA PLAZA DE LA MAURICE

-Starting at 4:30pm, Plaza De La Maurice will feature multiple events right outside the mall including barbers shaving the Vikings logos on fans heads, tattoo artists tattooing free Vikings logos (up to a certain size), and face and hair painters.

-Shooting cage opens at 6pm

-Vikings Ice Girls will be there to pose for pictures with fans

SUPERMEN ICE CREAM TRUCK AT MORGENSTERN’S

-From 10am to 8pm, fans can stop by Morgenstern’s in Manhattan to celebrate the Supermen being back in the playoffs with one-of-a-kind Supermen ice cream and lots of free giveaways.

MONDAY SEND-OFF IN COMOX VALLEY

-The Comox Valley X-Men are inviting fans to line outside their home ice arena to wish the team good luck when they travel to Pittsburgh for Game 1.

-Fans are asked to bring posters and signs and should be lined up by 10:45am.

DEER PARK FAN FAIR

-The Chiefs are doing a lot of fun stuff right outside their arena leading up to game time tonight.

-Fans will get a chance to play interactive hockey games, enjoy live music and special appearances by current and former players.

-Anyone who purchased a ticket to tonight’s game will receive a battle towel at their seat presented by Toyota.

TICKETS

-Tickets are nearly sold out for Games 1-4 in the First Round Matchups. Best luck at getting last minute tickets could be found on StubHub.com

 

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 Live Coverage of the

2019 AFHL Trade Deadline

February 12th, 2019

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!!!

 

12:01 pm Bob McKenzie: Hey everybody! Happy Trade Deadline Day!!

12:05 pm Barry Melrose: Greetings from the War Room!

12:08 pm  Pierre LeBrun: Just finished my Red Bull… Let’s do this thing!!! 

12:10 pm  Barry Melrose: No trades so far. Just like in previous years we like to call this the calm before the storm.

12:15 pm Bob McKenzie: I feel like we pose this question every year – Is this the day Buffalo GM Daryn Beckman finally trades Crosby?

12:17 pm  Pierre LeBrun: If I were Daryn I would trade him. There are GMs in this league that would overpay for Crosby so I think he could get a kings ransom.

12:20 pm  Barry Melrose: Some big names on the block today include San Diego’s Nikita Kucherov, Hamilton’s Gustav Nyquist, and Pittsburgh’s Alex Pietrangelo.

12:17 pm  Pierre LeBrun: Toronto GM Jordan Carbone says he’s willing to trade guys like Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, and Gabriel Landeskog.

12:25 pm Bob McKenzie: I think Carbone is trying to shake things up to make the playoffs. Big race for 8th going on right now. 

12:27 pm  Barry Melrose: Carbone also wants to be the second GM in AFHL history to win two AFHL Cups. I think he’s got the horses to do it this year.

12:40 pm Bob McKenzie: Heard a rumor that Mark Scheifele wants out of Fort Drum…

12:51 pm  Pierre LeBrun: Text from Manhattan GM Tony Furino – “Lots of tire kicking right now but the day is young.”

1:07 pm  Barry Melrose: Who will be the first to make a trade today?

1:08 pm Bob McKenzie: Hearing Patrick Marleau most likely played his final game in a Phantoms uniform. GM Beckman wants to trade him today.

1:11 pm  Barry Melrose: Darren Dreger is reporting Buffalo GM Daryn Beckman has just agreed to a trade. 

1:15 pm Bob McKenzie: What is the trade?

1:17 pm  Pierre LeBrun: One of my sources is telling me he traded Crosby!!!

1:20 pm  Barry Melrose: It’s not for Crosby. There is a deal in place between Buffalo and San Diego but there is a hold up over some paperwork issues. Still waiting for more details…

1:22 pm Bob McKenzie: Well here we go guys! First trade of the day is made by Manhattan GM Tony Furino and Washington GM Rick Charron… Bobby Ryan is on his way back to Manhattan and prospect John Quenneville is off to Washington along with a 2019 Second Round Pick (Toronto).

1:24 pm  Barry Melrose: Interesting trade. Bobby Ryan was originally drafted by Manhattan in the 2nd Round of the AFHL’s Inaugural Draft exactly 10 years ago.

1:35 pm  Pierre LeBrun: EJ Hradek is at Buffalo Phantoms practice. Says all guys are on the ice except for Patrick Marleau.

1:38 pm Bob McKenzie: I think that first trade has woken everybody up. I’ve been told GMs are starting to get more aggressive in their talks.

2:01 pm  Barry Melrose: Pittsburgh GM Jason Henley texted me: “As is the norm in Pittsburgh, you never hear anything until a deal is done.” Shortly after he tweeted out a selfie from the War Room and in the background you can see a lot of scouting reports on Comox’s farm team. I asked him about the tweet and he said “I told that moron in marketing that Twitter was fucking stupid.”

2:03 pm Bob McKenzie: LOL Henley is a funny guy.

2:05 pm  Pierre LeBrun: That Buffalo/San Diego deal has just been finalized. Patrick Marleau and a 2021 Third Round Pick to the Gulls in exchange for prospect Jonah Gadjovich. 

2:06 pm Bob McKenzie: Marleau fits into the San Diego offense as they try to bolster for the playoffs and win a third straight Stanley Cup.

3:06 pm Bob McKenzie: All is quiet right now although guys are about to start getting off of work. 

3:40 pm  Pierre LeBrun: Yeah it usually picks up after work hours. 

4:59 pm  Barry Melrose: TSN reporting the X-Men and Supermen are on the verge of a deal.

5:16 pm  Pierre LeBrun: Fort Drum GM Steve Stryska just stepped into his office. He texted me: “The phone lines are now open.”

5:29 pm Bob McKenzie: Lots of talk in Toronto. GM Carbone still fielding offers on guys like Brent Burns and Gabriel Landeskog. Almost three more hours until the deadline.

5:31 pm  Barry Melrose: Text from Hamilton GM Adam Z: “We want to get younger/better.”

6:20 pm  Pierre LeBrun: Firestorm forward Gustav Nyquist knows he’s being shopped, but would like to stay with the Firestorm. Text from Nyquist: “I would love to stay, I like everything here. I like the organization and everything. We’ll see how it goes.”

6:31 pm Bob McKenzie: Manhattan GM Tony Furino just announced Blake Wheeler is on the block.

6:42 pm  Barry Melrose: Laval forward Jonathan Toews says trade deadline is nothing but stress, tension and awkward goodbyes.

7:00 pm  Pierre LeBrun: We have a blockbuster trade to announce…

7:02 pm  Pierre LeBrun: The Toronto Red Devils have traded Gabriel Landeskog and a 2019 Third Round Pick to the Deer Park Chiefs for Matt Dumba, Jack Roslovic, and a 2019 First Round Pick.

7:08 pm Bob McKenzie: Whoa, that is quite a trade.

7:11 pm  Barry Melrose: Yep! Now we’re cooking…

7:20 pm  Pierre LeBrun: I’ve been told Atlantic City and London have struck a deal.

7:22 pm  Pierre LeBrun: Tyler Bozak is off to Atlantic City. Juuso Valimaki is on his way to London.

7:29 pm  Barry Melrose: Told Moncton and London are completing a trade, one is close/near done.

7:31 pm  Barry Melrose: Moncton acquires Andre Burakovsky, Isaac Ratcliffe, Matthew Strome, and Nicholas Merkley. London acquires Nazem Kadri, Mario Ferraro, Logan Stanley, and Dmytro Timashov.

7:42 pm Bob McKenzie: Deer Park GM Mike Nellany on trade with Toronto: “I think both teams have met a need to say the least.”

8:01 pm  Pierre LeBrun: ONE MORE HOUR UNTIL THE TRADE DEADLINE!! IT’S GETTING INTENSE OUT THERE!!!

8:07 pm  Barry Melrose: Manhattan and Comox Valley have finalized a deal. Will Butcher is heading to Manhattan. Gustav Forsling and Marcus Pettersson are heading to Comox Valley.

8:08 pm  Barry Melrose: Hearing Toronto has made another trade.

8:10 pm  Barry Melrose: Toronto has traded Tom Wilson to Comox Valley for Malcolm Subban and Alexander Nylander.

8:31 pm Bob McKenzie: Lots of activity now down the stretch with 30 minutes left!!!

8:45 pm  Barry Melrose: Source telling me Manhattan and Toronto just agreed to a trade…

8:47 pm  Pierre LeBrun: Manhattan GM Tony Furino is wheeling and dealing. He also just made a deal with Hamilton…

8:49 pm  Pierre LeBrun: Hearing the Hamilton deal is for Gustav Nyquist.

8:50 pm  Pierre LeBrun: Confirmed. Hamilton trades Gustav Nyquist to Manhattan for Alexander Alexeyev, 2019 Third Round Pick, and 2021 First Round Pick. Still waiting on details of the Toronto trade…

8:54 pm Bob McKenzie: Everybody’s cramming!! Last minute rush!!!

8:56 pm  Barry Melrose: Pierre McGuire is telling me the Manhattan/Toronto deal is on hold. Apparently one side wants a throw in pick and the other side doesn’t. Looks like it’s going to come down to the final minute.

9:00 pm Bob McKenzie: Unbelievable finish!! We have a bunch of last minute trades to announce…

9:26 pm  Barry Melrose: We are exhausted. Too many trades to post here at the end. We saw a total of 19 trades made today. That is an AFHL record. And there were about 15 trades made in the final hour and about 10 of them were buzzer beaters in the final minute! Amazing trade deadline!! Great job everybody!! Goodnight!!

 

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Oct
03

Building a Dynasty

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Building a Dynasty and Raising Another Banner!!

Gulls Begin Quest for Three-Peat Tonight

October 3rd, 2018

The parade celebrating the San Diego Gulls’ second straight Stanley Cup was still raging on that hot afternoon in mid-May when Lucas Main decided it was time to up the ante.

Sure, becoming the first back-to-back Cup winners in AFHL history is historic. Still, it’s just two. Three straight? Well, that’s something else entirely. And the man whose arrival in September 2012 coincided with San Diego’s ascendance to the top of the AFHL knew it.

So the GM/Coach with the innate ability to calibrate a roster stuffed with an eclectic mix of generational offensive talent, relentless young legs and just enough tenacity figured it was time to set the bar for 2018-19.

“I wonder if we can repeat, if we can ‘three-peat,'” Lucas said.

Only he wasn’t wondering. He was challenging Evgeni Malkin, Nikita Kucherov, John Gibson and the rest of the core that has a chance to win three consecutive Cups to cement themselves as the greatest fantasy hockey dynasty team possibly of all time.

And the message rang through loud and clear. The way Lucas’ captain Ryan Kesler figures it, facing that kind of internal pressure sure beats the opposite, even if Kesler isn’t quite ready to start thinking about three-peat.

“The banner raising and the highlight videos they do should inspire us tonight,” Kesler said. “For me, it will be a real remembrance that it’s all worth it. All the sacrifice and the commitment that you make to try to achieve the ultimate goal is worth it. And we’ve got a group that’s capable.”

Winning three straight championships in the most competitive dynasty league in all of fantasy sports will very difficult to accomplish. But oddsmakers have made San Diego the early favorite. The Gulls insist they’re focusing on the opener Wednesday night against Cape Breton. Worrying about becoming the greatest dynasty in all of fantasy sports is at the bottom of the list of their concerns.

“Just let the historical chips fall where they may,” Lucas Main said.

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Aug
15

New Moncton GM Hired

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New Moncton GM says Black Bears Have Potential

August 15th, 2018

John Robertson was officially introduced as the Black Bears new coach and GM  in a press conference on Wednesday morning.

AFHL Commissioner Anthony Furino dismissed the previous GM after only 24 hours on the job.

“Trades are a big deal in this league,” said Furino. “Aside from participation and a high activity level, you have to make good trades if you want to remain in this league. I also saw an underachieving team in the Black Bears and thought I really needed to hire a stud GM.”

Moncton has yet to make the playoffs in the eight year history of the AFHL.

“Obviously, I try and support every GM in this league,” said Furino. “Firing Winston quickly was based more on a gut feeling that there was a better GM out there who could poke and prod and get a young core to meet their potential rather than totally cleaning house.”

Now Robertson is in charge and he’s committed to making smarter trades while having a high activity level and getting the Bears on the winning track.

“I’ve got a good track record and I know how to analyze players and get the most out of the ones that I have,” Robertson said at the press conference on Wednesday.

Robertson made a couple of shrewd trades after about a week on the job. Most notably was his trade of Juuse Saros, a young highly sought after goaltender, for four first round draft picks. That trade left a hole in the goaltending department but Robertson quickly addressed that hole by trading prospect Cody Glass in a package for Philipp Grubauer who is expected to be the next starting goaltender in Colorado. Grubauer joins Corey Crawford and Scott Darling to create a very formidable goaltending committee for Moncton.

“I like this team a lot actually,” said Robertson. “There is plenty of young talent and I hope to be competitive for a long time with my youth movement leading the way.”

Robertson is not planning any more major moves but he now has plenty of draft picks and more assets to trade as he sees fit to plug some holes moving forward to better the team.

“Because of my love for all levels of hockey, including juniors, I’ve had great success in working with young and talented guys and getting them to play,” Robertson said. “I think there’s potential with a lot of guys to be top players here and I’m excited to build a winning culture in Moncton.”

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Jun
29

Winston Fired

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GM Winston Bambrick Fired

Only 24 Hours After Being Re-Hired

June 29th, 2018

After attempting to make multiple trades within hours of being hired, including sending superstar player John Tavares to Shawinigan, Moncton GM Winston Bambrick has already been fired.

“He clearly didn’t learn his lesson from the first run,” AFHL Commissioner Anthony Furino tweeted out on Friday afternoon. “It’s a real shame.”

The issue seems to be that Winston traded Tavares without shopping him to the entire league.

“He traded him literally a couple hours after being hired,” said Furino. “How would you be sure to get the biggest bang for your buck if you don’t attempt to speak with all the teams in the league? Half the GMs in this league didn’t even know Winston was back let alone Tavares was available. I am not letting him ruin another team.”

Winston was fired after only one day on the job.

This is the fastest GM firing in league history. The second fastest firing was former London GM Tom Schmansky who lasted 11 days. Here is the link to that article: “Hasta La Vista, Schmansky

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Heeee’s Baaaack!!! Winston Returns to AFHL

Hired as New GM of Moncton Black Bears

June 28th, 2018

The Moncton Black Bears front office underwent a significant change on Thursday when AFHL Commissioner Anthony Furino announced he will be hiring Winston Bambrick as new GM.

Bambrick served as general manager of the Westbury Royals between 2015-17. He parted with the AFHL after getting backlash from other GMs for making questionable trades for a struggling franchise.

“My breaking point was an argument with that dude from the army,” Winston said of Fort Drum GM Steve Stryska at a press conference on Thursday. “He got me hot headed but I always regretted leaving. The AFHL is my favorite league of all-time and I have always felt like I had some unfinished business.”

It was a sour ending for his run with the Westbury Royals but this ending should be different.

“Winston took over a fragile Westbury team that had very few pieces and some guys just have trouble with that,” Commissioner Furino said at the press conference. “For reasons I just can’t explain. Rebuilds are not easy and they are not for everyone. But Winston had a year off and he had time to take a step back to look at what went wrong, where, what went right and what would he do differently? I believe he learned a few lessons from his first run in the AFHL and got better from that. He has a great hockey knowledge and enough experience to thrive with a team like Moncton that has a good amount of pieces to be competitive as soon as this year.”

Commissioner Furino believes a high activity level is the first and probably most important attribute of a great GM. Winston raises the bar for that category.

“He was by far the most active GM I have seen in our 8 years,” said Furino. “Combine that activity level with better decision making skills and he could easily become a Hall-of-Fame GM one day.”

Looking to the future, Furino said the Black Bears just need to find secondary scorers for next season. The strength of the Black Bears last season was the goaltending of Corey Crawford and Juuse Saros. They have stalwarts in guys like John Tavares, Dougie Hamilton, and rookie sensation Mathew Barzal.

“He needs to just build around that nucleus,” Furino said of Winston. “If he can draft well and be more careful with trades, I think we can see this team in the playoffs sooner rather than later.

Winston is confident that this team has the pieces in place to compete at a very high level.

“There is a lot of talent, a solid core and some exciting young players eager to get better,” said Winston. “We’re getting to work right away on the things that will make us all successful.”

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San Diego Gulls Make History with Repeat Title

April 2nd, 2018

History is not made in one game. History is not made in one day. History is not made in one year.

History is built on the accumulation of time. It is as elusive as it is magnificent.

The 2018 San Diego Gulls have etched their names in history, both literally and figuratively, as they became the first team in AFHL history to win two AFHL Stanley Cup championships after defeating the Washington Wolfpack, 7-3, on Sunday in Game 7 of a seesaw series that pitted a high-scoring heavyweight against an upstart challenger.

It is an achievement that will live forever.

Over the years, the San Diego Gulls have gone through an ever-changing cast of players but the one staple has always been GM/Coach Lucas Main.

“We knew it was going to be tough all year, but we just tried to keep with it,” Lucas said amidst the locker room celebration. “We had a lot of injuries and things like that. We just kept finding ways. That was really what we did all season, all playoffs. It’s great to be able to do it.”

Along with the team, Lucas Main has become the first GM in AFHL history – eight years – to win two AFHL Stanley Cups as well as the first to win back to back AFHL Stanley Cups.

“You might have a small window to win a Stanley Cup,” Lucas said. “I feel fortunate, but I also understand how difficult it was so you just want to try to make the best of it.”

Gulls goaltender John Gibson was named the MVP of the Playoffs. He posted a 1.97 GAA and a save percentage of .931% in the Finals.

“I think I’m just really happy for this group,” Gibson said after skating around the rink with the Stanley Cup. “A good chunk of the guys were returning from last year, so it’s pretty special. We set out to try to go back-to-back. We knew it was going to be pretty difficult, but I think that’s probably where the most joy comes out of is just knowing how difficult it is to go back-to-back and knowing that we overcame all those things. It’s a pretty special group, I’ll say that.”

Gulls forward Nikita Kucherov shed tears of joy in his post-game interview.

“I think this feeling right here. You can’t match this,” said an emotional Nikita Kucherov. “It’s what it’s all about, and to be able to share that with a group of guys, a lot of them guys that you’ve played a long time with and understand how difficult it is and what you’ve had to go through and that kind of thing, share it with family and friends, that’s what it’s about.”

After hugging GM Lucas Main for what seemed like five minutes, Gulls forward Evgeni Malkin was asked what words were shared between the two.

Malkin paused for a moment and responded with one phrase: “Three-peat.”

*

“It stings,” said Wolfpack goaltender Martin Jones. “I think the biggest thing we’ve got to take from this is, remember the feeling. That’s what’s going to drive us … We’re going to be back here again next year.”

Washington GM Rick Charron was a hard man to find after the loss. Media eventually caught up to him a couple hours later outside the Wolfpack locker room.

“It’s hard to describe. You dream about lifting the AFHL Stanley Cup for so many years, and the dream has happened probably a million times for most of us. Being that close, being one game away from lifting the Stanley Cup, it [stinks]. But for us, we did so many things well and this is such a tremendous run for our team, and we have such a good well balanced team. I think we gained a ton of experience from this run and we are going to work hard to get back here.”

*

The Gulls victory parade will be 11 a.m. next Wednesday, the city announced via Twitter early Monday afternoon.

Although a formal release is still upcoming, the route is expected to remain the same as last year.

The city expects as many as 500,000 people will gather along the parade routes and related celebrations, said Alexander Costa, the chief operations officer under the San Diego Mayor. Costa said that would rank the crowd total larger than last year.

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2018 Stanley Cup Finals Preview

Best Quotes from Media Day

March 26th, 2018

“Woo for Two!”

That was the headline to the special Stanley Cup Final section in a San Diego newspaper on Monday morning, a reference to the Gulls’ quest for a second straight Stanley Cup win.

San Diego GM Lucas Main knows this stage well. Game one (Monday 7 p.m.) will mark his second straight appearance in the Finals.

But despite the fact this will be the Washington GM Rick Charron’s first ever appearance in the Cup Finals, he believes he and his team belong.

“Most of their guys won it last year and know what’s coming at them,” Wolfpack forward Patrice Bergeron said. “But we know that if we play our game and keep doing the things that got us here we can find success.”

So while the talk for much of Monday morning was about the Gulls’ stars and the opportunity for them to make history by becoming the first team to repeat as champions and the first team to win more than one Cup, the Wolfpack feel like this is their stage, too.

They’ve taken no shortcuts on the road here. They beat one of the Stanley Cup favorite Sharks in round one and beat one of the hottest teams over the second half of the season in the Nomads in round two.

Now to win their first ever Stanley Cup, the Wolfpack will have to beat the defending champs.

“This is probably the biggest challenge we’ve had to face all year in this series,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “But I feel good about our group and we’re confident in our team and like this matchup.”

Washington coach Rick Charron on what making the Stanley Cup final means to the city

“Come to Washington and you’ll see. Like I said to somebody earlier, you should put this on your bucket list if you don’t have it. Our building is probably the loudest of all the arenas in the league. The atmosphere is electric.”

San Diego coach Lucas Main on two American Conference teams in the final

“I think it speaks a little bit about the progress that the American Conference has made. I think there’s a lot of really good teams that are working extremely hard to be the best. There’s a lot of real good coaches in that conference as well. To be a part of that American fraternity, I guess, it’s something that I’m certainly proud of.”

San Diego’s Evgeni Malkin on his attitude about being in the spotlight

“Probably was a little bit more inclined to yes [to interviews] all the time when I was younger. Probably a little better at saying no sometimes when the time is right. But I understand that this is part of it. … As you get older, you figure out what works.”

Tyler Seguin on Washington’s postseason inexperience compared to the Gulls

“At the end of the day, it’s another hockey game. Sure we will be nervous during the first shift but we will settle in quickly.”

Washington goalie Martin Jones on facing Malkin and Kucherov

“From a goalie perspective, when those guys are in your zone, you have to be on your toes and know what’s going on.”

Washington coach Rick Charron on injuries to key players

“All players will be available to us who made the trip. Chara and Thornton are currently game-time decisions but we fully expect them to be ready for Game 1 tonight.”

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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.