Call-ups are inevitable in the world of minor pro hockey. Players want to move up to higher leagues, for higher pay, and being one step closer to the NHL.
And teams, to a certain extent, want to move up players, because it’s a feather in their cap and a selling point to future players that, yeah, we help get guys to the next level. But teams also don’t want too many call-ups, because then the roster is ravaged, and can sink a team on the ice.
We recently wondered, with the FHL just under the halfway point, how hard has each team been hit by call-ups at this juncture? Well, an inside source at the FHL was able to get us a list of all the players currently on call-ups, or who have refused to report back to the team after being called up and sent back down. We obtained this list Sunday, and have done our best to go back through the recent transactions to make it as accurate as possible. Regardless, you are getting a glimpse at what teams have faced this season.
Keep in mind that some of these players initially inked deals with the FHL, but never played a game there this season after offers from the SPHL came in, but the FHL is still considering them to be out on loan. Also, this is just the ACTIVE list, and not how many have happened over the whole season, that number is even higher if we had the time and energy to go look all the way back into early October to see had been sent up before coming back down.
Teams are presented in alphabetical order.
Carolina Thunderbirds – 10 players out (8 on loan, 2 failed to report)
Players on Loan: Ryan Jasinsky, Beau Walker, Henry Dill, Taylor Love, MJ Graham, Maxime Guyon, Thomas Tsicos, CJ Blaszka.
Refused to Report: Matt Beer, Ray Boudiette.
This is what’s made Carolina’s recent run of 15-straight wins so impressive, is that 10 players, including some very good players in Guyon and Henry Dill, have either missed the whole season in Carolina, or only played a handful of games before getting the call-up, and yet the train continues to roll along.
And this also doesn’t include other call-ups that have happened over the course of the year, like Christian Pavlas having two stints in the SPHL this year before again being sent back down and added back to the roster.
Danville Dashers – 15 players out (14 on loan, 1 failed to report)
Players on Loan: Stephen Gaul, Aaron Atwell, Aaron Taylor, Ryan Stayner, Fred Hein, Preston Kugler, Onfrej Misovic, Vincent Caligiari, Justin Levac, Craig Skudalski, Jimmy Soper, Andrew Harrison, Jake Hamilton, Brandon Yeamans.
Refused to Report: Ryan Marker.
Remember how Danville at one point this season was briefly in first place after about a dozen games this year? Yeah, well, having 14 players called up, and your leading scorer refusing to report back after an SPHL call-up is how you go from first to out of the playoffs in a span of a month and a half.
Gaul, Levac, and Marker, basically are what make the Dashers go, and when all of them are out, it’s not easy to win. Yes, there were rumored problems with the coach, who was fired after just over a dozen games, but nobody is going to win when you have 15 players called up, including your three stars.
Another thing worth noting: of the 14 players on loan, 10 have been to Peoria, Quad City or Evansville, sometimes it doesn’t pay to be the only FHL team close to three SPHL teams.
Elmira Enforcers – 11 players out (7 on loan, 4 failed to report)
Players on Loan: Cameron Yarwood, Sean Reynolds, Ryan Devine, Ryan Mulder, Dale Deon, Patrick Harrison, Mike Chemello.
Refuse to Report: David Higgs, Ryan Stern, Rylan Freed, Yan Dumontie.
As the Enforcers have gotten better over the course of the season, they have started to send more players on to the SPHL, including Reynolds and Devine just this past week, two key pieces during the Enforcers surge up the standings.
It will be interesting to see how the Enforcers handle all the recent call-ups, but with a hot team and a regularly packed arena, we have to imagine that Elmira has an easier time than most FHL teams when it comes to having to bring in or recruit replacement players.
Really just a great first season in a lot of ways for the Enforcers, from on the ice to sending players up, and of course, in the stands.
Mentor Ice Breakers – 1 player out (1 on loan)
Player on Loan: Hunter Drake.
A last place team that hasn’t had a ton of standout players, and isn’t all that close to any SPHL teams, not really a lot to write about here.
Port Huron Prowlers – 6 players out (5 on loan, 1 failed to report)
Players on Loan: Cory Simons, Alex Johnson, Yianni Liarakos, Michael Santaguida, Austin Daae.
Refused to Report: Brandon Parkhouse.
Port Huron is an interesting case, because you could make the argument that nobody has lost players as significant to the team’s success as the Prowlers. Simons was great this year before getting called up, Liarakos was leading the team in scoring before heading to Hungary, Santaguida was head and shoulders above the rest of the FHL goalies last season, and Parkhouse had over 80 points last season before not reporting this year.
That’s four very key players to the Prowlers success, most notably Santaguida, and it’s shown this year as at one point the Prowlers were tied for last in the league. But they have kind of rediscovered their form of late and currently sit in fourth place, the last playoff spot, ahead of Danville.
Watertown Wolves – 15 players out (11 on loan, 4 failed to report)
Players on Loan: Ruan Hubbard, Christian Whitcomb, Sam Williams, Cody Porter, Brandon Wahlin, Mac Jansen, Vincent Quellet-Beaudy, Nick Wright, Mason Pulde, Nicola Levesque, Paul Fregeau.
Refuse to Report: CJ Hayes, Thomas Clayton, John Scully, Dallas Ingram.
Despite a tying for the league-high (at the moment) in players out, the Wolves still find themselves in second-place, which shows how well they’ve been at retaining key players this year like the league’s leading scorer in Tyler Gjurich, and teammates Gavin Yates.
Because there are some names up there that have been very key contributors to the Wolves this season and in the past, including Whitcomb, Porter, Wahlin, and Scully. So it’s not like the guys they’ve lost have been nothing.
Again, the Wolves will be an interesting case to see how they handle all the call-ups, including Hubbard and Whitcomb over the past two weeks, and a sweep at the hands of Elmira last weekend shows there is a transition period.
So what does all of this show? It shows that every team with the exception of Mentor has been hit hard by call-ups to the SPHL this season, or by players just refusing to play. It also shows that some teams like Watertown, Carolina, and Elmira have handled those call-ups very well, and as a result sit in the top-3 spots in the league standings. And shows that teams like Port Huron and Danville have struggled with the call-ups, and that’s why they are currently in the league’s bottom half.