Knights 10 Mayhem 4
Eagles 9 Walkers 5
Slap Happy 6 Slashers 3
XHL Kicked off its 21st season last night with the Knights, Eagles and Slap Happy earning hard fought wins. The Knights formed a team back in 2016 led by Kurt Schindler, Andy Calvert and Jordan Tosh. They made a championship appearance in 2018 and nearly beat the Renegades in game 3 of that series. They fell to the Xtreme in game 3 of a semi final series the following season and made the championship again in 2020 (in a non xhl season, Reynoldsville Rollerdrome ran a league that summer). A potential rematch with the Renegades in 2020 was not finished. There was no Knights team in the fall 2021 XHL Season but they have returned for a winter 2023 xhl season with some familiar faces and some new faces. Rooster was a member of the Renegades team that beat them in 2018 and is now trying to carry his XHL Championship magic to the Knights. He already has 2 championships with the Renegades and 1 with the Colonials last season. Brandon Reiter, Nate Galentine, Clint Lingenfelter and Noah Kline were not on any previous Knights teams but have joined with some prior members (Andy, Jake and Cory) this season. Some of the players on this Knights team think it could take a little time to get in sync this season. Peach Caltagarone has put another Mayhem team together this season. There was some uncertainity that Peach could play this season. He got hurt in the September ironman tournament and was just cleared to come back in late December. While he wasn’t sure if he could play, he was still willing to put a team together. It turned out that there were more guys interested in playing xhl this season than anticipated, so the Mayhem and Slashers were able to form separate teams. Tyler Waltman, Trent Bembenic, and Brian Pangallo have played on previous Mayhem teams. Zach Smith, Anthony Schuckers and Jeff Wehner played on the Mayhem last season. Cody Haag, Brenden Chesley and Tyler Stitt are replacing Zach, Anthony and Jeff this season while Zach, Anthony and Jeff try to keep the Slashers competitive this season. Following last nights game with the Knights and Mayhem, Peach said that the Mayhem schedule was heavily weighted when his team had to play against the Knights to open the season last night. We are currently experiencing a goalie shortage. Some goalies, mainly Henry Sutter and Clint, had to play a bunch of games just for us to have a fall league. John Matchock had to goalie 3 games on a fall league playoff night. Luckily, about a week before the December 29th ironman tournament, Derrian Matchock said that he would be available to goalie if needed. He will have plenty to do this season. He is officially on the Mayhem roster but he found himself goalying again at 820 last night when Tim Herman (bye week goalie who was going to fill in for the Slashers) said that he couldn’t make it to the rink by 820 last night. Derrian faced a lot of shots in both games but looked good in each of them. The Mayhem actually got off to an early lead when Brian Pangallo scored. Just a minute later, Cody Haag had a good shot on Clint but Clint was able to save it to prevent back to back Mayhem goals. Noah Kline made a couple nice passes in the first period, one to Brandon Reiter and another to his Dad, Jake, to make it 3-1 after 1. Andy scored the other goal. Cory and Andy would make the game 5-1 midway thru the 2nd period but new Mayhem member Brenden Chesley scored a couple goals to close the gap to 5-3 going into the 3rd period. The Knights pulled away in the 3rd period thanks to some goal scoring from Andy and Brandon. The final would end up being 10-4. The Knights will play the Slap Happy next week while the Mayhem will face off against the Walkers.
A team made up mainly of last XHL Season’s Narwal players are being sponsored by the Eagles this season. Gone are Steve Kalgren and Jordan Tosh but Cody Schuckers has returned to the league to join the Eagles. Zach Foradori has also joined the Eagles after playing alongside some of the guys in the Fall League. Jerred Amick actually played for the Slap Happy last season after playing on the Narwals championship team in Brockway but he is back with his Narwal teammates this season. The Walkers formed a team in the non xhl, Reynoldsville rollerdrome summer league back in 2020 and have formed XHL and SRHL teams each year since then. They were very competitive for a good part of the last XHL Season but had some trouble staying in games towards the end of the season. Jason Stamler has joined up with them this season along with Morgan Lyons and Mark Chesley. Gone from last season are Erika Dodd, Morgan Dodd and Lauren Dodd. Tony Dodd has replaced Caleb Freemer in net. Tony Dodd was injured late in the Fall League regular season but is now able to play. While giving up 9 goals to the Eagles last night, he should have felt pretty good about the way he played in his return last night. He made his share of quality saves. The Eagles got off to a quick 1-0 lead but Brice Miller followed up with a nice back handed goal to tie the game at 1. He scored another back hander in the 3rd period. The game remained tied at 1 until Alex Waddell scored to put the Eagles up 2-1 going into the 2nd period. Zach Foradori, Austin Boyd and Eric Llewellyn each scored in the 2nd period to put the Eagles up 5-1 at the end of 2 periods. The Walkers climbed back into the game in early stages of the 3rd period before the Eagles were able to gain a little separation as the 3rd period went on (did not get to watch much of the 3rd period to see who scored the goals). The final would end up being 9-5. In a postgame interview, Tony Conforto (Walkers player) said his team exceeded expectations last night. They will try to follow up on their hard fought effort from last night when they take on the Mayhem next week. The Eagles will take on the Slashers in the late game next week.
The Slap Happy are back for another season led by Adam McKinley, Derik Day, Dave Jewell, Joe Bussard and the Pompeii’s. Gone from last season is Jerred Amick. They have brought some youth in with Nate May. Kyle Heffner is gone from last season as well but Jason Duttry has returned to play another season. He would score early last night to put the Slap Happy up 1-0 against the Slashers. The Slashers were really supposed to be the Mayhem, but some unexpected participants, Garrett and Andrew Britton, along with Tyler Stitt and Cody Haag expressed interest in playing in the XHL this season. Tyler Stitt and Cody Haag were put on the Mayhem to round out their roster but the Britton’s were put on the Slashers to team up with a good core of guys (Zach Smith, Anthony Schuckers, Vinnie Deloia and Jeff Wehner). Corey Bassett and Matt Cole are only available part time so they will swap in and out for one another throughout the season. Matt Cole played last night. The Slap Happy went up 2-0 following a goal from Dave Jewell midway thru the 1st period but Jeff Wehner scored late in the first period for the Slashers to make it 2-1. Anthony Schuckers scored early in the 2nd period to tie the game at 2. The Slap Happy went up 3-2 when Derik Day scored but Anthony Schuckers would score again to tie the game at 3 on a nice setup from Vinnie Deloia. The game remained tied for a while before Dave Jewell scored on a nice slap shot to put the Slap Happy up 4-3 going into the 3rd period. Joe Bussard scored on a nice wrap around goal early in the 3rd period to make it 5-3 and would later score again to make it 6-3. Neither team scored again after that. Derrian Matchock played in net for the Slashers and played well despite facing a bunch of shots against the Knights in an earlier game at 620. The Slap Happy will get an even bigger test when they go up against the Knights next week. The Slashers will play twice next week (Trying to utilize Zach Smith’s limited availability as much as we can) when they play against the Colonials at 7 and against the Eagles at 9. Jeff Wehner joked before the first game last night saying that he couldn’t wait to play against the Eagles since they didn’t have room to put him on their roster this season. Some interviews are below:
Brandon Reiter (Knights)
1. 10 to 4 win tonight. What can you say about the overall team effort? I think the effort was great. There was some rust to shake and we will have to allow some time for chemistry to build
2. High expectations for this team around the league. What kind of expectations do you have? Pretty much to compete in every game.
3. Mayhem hung tough for a while. What do you think you guys did better in the 3rd period? I don’t think we did anything different. We just kept firing and more shots happened to go in during the third.
4. Do you like xhl better in the winter than in the summer? I enjoy hockey no matter the season or the projectile.
5. What other teams do you think pose a threat to you guys(if you are familiar at all with the rosters)? Every team is a threat.
Larry K (Eagles)
1. 9 to 5 win tonight. What can you say about the overall team effort? Team effort was strong the whole game. A couple little mistakes that we need to clean up
2. You reffed the knights game tonight. What did you observe in that game? The Knights are fast
3. Walkers hung tough tonight. What was your impression of them? Definitely a better team than they were the past two years. Just need to pass more instead of trying to carry it up the floor and go coast to coast.
4. What expectations do you have for your team going forward? . Either we win the cup or it’s a bust. Our expectation is to win
5. Henry has never played on a championship caliber team in the xhl. Do you think he will be able to adjust to playing on a team with higher expectations? Henry is a top 2 goalie in this league. He doesn’t spend his free time trying to take home questionable dates from the bar so that’s a big plus. Above all he is loyal to the team and what we are trying to do.
Tony Conforto (Walkers)
1. 9 to 5 loss tonight. What can you say about the overall team effort? I would say that this team played beyond initial expectations tonight and will continue to get better as we get used to playing together. Tony was awesome in net and kept the game competitive!!!!
2. What signs of encouragement did you see going forward into the rest of the season? This team is full of positive players that embody the idea of what being a team is, not blaming or shaming, just providing positive support and observations that are aimed at improving each others game play. Who knows we may be a force to be recons with come playoffs
3. How do you think overall team chemistry looked? . Everyone on the team showed some individual strengths and a willingness to work together to make adjustments on the fly. I am happy with the group Steve put together
4. Some new faces on this team. How do you think they looked tonight including Tony Dodd in net? Tony played like he was 20 years younger and the new talent brought speed and stick handling skills that will come in handy down the stretch.
5. Xhl used to be a summer sport instead of winter. Which do you like better? . I would like to see winter and summer both be xhl, but the draft leagues are good also. I think we probably have a better turnout in the winter because of less vacations etc…
1. 10 to 4 loss. What can you say about the overall team effort tonight? We kept it a 2-goal game for the better part of the first 2 periods, and that was huge. Derian made some dazzling saves in the first to keep us in it. Unfortunately they’re a hard team to keep up with and it caught up to us in the 3rd. Everyone played hard and our goalie stood on his head. Pretty good effort against a really good team.
2. Knights are one of the favorites to win this year. What was your impression of them tonight? . They’ve got a pretty solid lineup. They have speed, they have size, they play well at both ends, and they have good goaltending. They’ll definitely be a team to watch this year. Thankfully I’ll be one of the ones watching next week
3. What positives can you take out of the game? Our goaltending was great! I was thrilled to find out we won the Derian Sweepstakes! We have a pretty well well rounded team and I think that was a good start for us. It’s nice coming out of opening night knowing you have something build on
4. No Trent tonight. What do you think his presence can bring when he is able to make it? Trent will bring us another element on offense and more speed. He’s got good hands and feet, and when he’s clicking on all cylinders he can really make an impact.
5. How did you feel physically and how do you think Derrian played in net? Thankfully I feel great, and it should only get better as the season goes on. It only seem appropriate to give Derian another shoutout. He faced a lot of shots and stopped alot of high quality chances. He deserves for us to play better in front of him for sure.
Steve Pompeii (Slap Happy)
1. 6 to 3 win last night. What can you say about the overall team effort tonight? It was good! I think everyone was a little rusty tho. Give it a little time and everyone will have a role for this team
2. You all haven’t played much hockey for a while. How do you think you did considering the long layoff? Yeah it’s just like riding a bike. Once we get back out there a couple times we will be in good shape.
3. The other team was a team full of left over free agents and hasnt really played alongside one another before. What was your impression of them? They played well. Just like everyone else in the league. Once you get a couple of games under your belt the chemistry will come with it.
4. Xhl used to be a Summer sport. Do you like winter time xhl better? Not sure yet. There’s not much to do in the winter so I’m ok with it so far. Time will tell.
5. What kind of expectations do you have going forward? I think we’re going to be right up there with the top teams. Like Derik said last night, we have the best goalie in the league. We just have to play smart in front of him. If we can do that and help Joe find his jersey we will be in the driver seat. Lol