IHL: Competitive Parity

By Parker Neale
Offence has been pretty hard to come by this year in the IHL. Goals,
shots and power-play goals are all quite low, as a whole. This decrease
can be attributed mainly to the strong goaltending now present in the
league. As opposed to many previous seasons, goaltenders have stepped
up to be valuable contributors of their teams this year. The
backstopper who has really gotten off to a torrid pace is Mike Fountain
of the Grand Rapids Griffins as he has sparkled in the absence of
now-Senator Jani Hurme. Fountain has produced a 1.75 GAA and 0.933 save
percentage in 10 starts thus far. While Fountain has provided the
defence, Todd White has been the sparkplug on the offensive end for the
Griffins. Grand Rapids is not alone as the majority of IHL teams have
certain players that are leading them in their quest towards the Turner

In Cleveland, Christian Matte has had no problems in his transition from
the AHL to the IHL as he has tallied 12 goals in his first 18 games. He
has been assisted by Brian Bonin, who has 19 points thus far. In net
for the Lumberjacks, Zac Bierk has been stellar, registering 8 wins and
a 0.913 save percentage.

In Orlando, Curtis Murphy has had to step up his play in the absence of
Mark Beaufait and has 18 points in 20 games. The Solar Bears have also
received top-notch goaltending from Norm Maracle, who already has 9 wins
to go along with his 0.912 save percentage.

It has been a different story in Cincinnati in terms of goaltending, as
they do not have a netminder within the top ten in the league
statistically. On offence, they are led by Brian Felsner who has 19
points. Such is also the case in Milwaukee and Detroit as neither team
has received strong goaltending thus far and there are no Viper or
Admiral players within the league’s top ten in scoring. The fact that
these three teams lack a gamebreaking player is evident in their records
as they all sit below .500.

In Manitoba, on the other hand, a team-oriented offence has spelled
success for the Moose. Johan Hedberg has also been fabulous in goal as
he leads the league with 10 wins, in only 14 games played.

Utah is led on offence by John Purves, who has 17 points in 19 games.
Mike Bales has been solid in net for the Grizzlies with a 2.45 GAA and
0.908 save percentage.

The Kansas City Blades have survived via offence as Vadim Sharifijanov
leads the league with 23 points. Corey Schwab has notched 9 wins, yet
sports a mediocre GAA of 2.90.

Houston and Chicago are just starting to heat up and are led by veterans
up front and in net. Rob Brown and Wendell Young carry the load for the
Wolves while Brett Harkins and Frederic Chabot do the same for the
Aeros. Don’t be surprised if you see these latter two teams at the top
of the pack near the end of the season as leadership continues to be an
integral part of success.