Dallas’ Hot Start Faces Big Test Against Northern Colorado
The Snipers look to keep their 6-game winning streak alive against a talented Eagles Squad
By Jason Felts
In a league like the WSHL, turnaround is common. It’s not rare for teams to go from Throne Cup Champions to bottom-of-the-league in one season (see Wichita 2017-2018). For the Dallas Snipers, change breeds opportunity, and while the 2018-19 season is still young, that opportunity has been capitalized on.
With a team that returned just 8 of their 23-man roster, the Snipers came into this season with a lot of questions. The bulk of the defense was back with guys like Arvidas Domeika and Simon Birkehorn, but the offense that was generated by the likes of long-time captain Sterling Cooper, Jaroslav Vasicek, and fellow long-time Sniper Michal Pistek, had all aged out and left the door wide open for new recruits. For a team that had posted a 18-74 record in the two seasons prior, change was needed.
Enter the 2018-19 recruits. Headlined by 6 World Juniors players, the Snipers entered the season with a lot of hope, but facing an uphill battle against the reigning Thorne Cup Champions, El Paso Rhinos. After a hard fought but ultimately commanding sweep by the Rhinos is weekend 1, the Snipers have since gone on to rattle off 6 wins in a row, sweeping the Cheyenne Stampede on the road, and the Steamboat Wranglers from Plano two weeks ago. The Snipers have been led by an offensive explosion from 2nd-year Sniper Danil Trenikhin, who put up 10 points in the Steamboat series alone, earning himself a spot as a WSHL Player of the Week. World Juniors players Jasa Jenko and Karolis Krasilnikovas have also come on strong, with 11 and 9 points respectively. With a strong returning defensive line, the Snipers needed to put a strong goaltender in net to be the last line of defense, and guys like Alexander Aleshkin (93.8% Save Percentage) and Kyle Plantz (88.7% Save Percentage) have answered the call.
The Snipers face their next true test of the ’18-’19 season with a weekend series against the visiting Northern Colorado Eagles. Sent to the Mid-Western Division to help fill the void left by Springfield and Tulsa, Northern Colorado comes into this series with a 4-6 record, earning 2-game sweeps of the Cheyenne Stampede, but being swept by both Ogden and Oklahoma City in two road weekends. For a team that posted 32 wins last season, Northern Colorado is in a transition period of their own. All 4 40+ point scorers from the season prior, as well as former 77-point scorer Vincent Mastrandrea, have since moved on, leaving Northern Colorado in a similar spot as Dallas, trying to find where the offense would come from. Forwards Nikita Sheberov and Bradley Green have fronted the load, putting up 11 points each, but will face a tough test against the aggressive Dallas defense.
The Snipers will look to beat goalkeepers Mitchell Robinson (81.8% Save Percentage) and Marshall Murphy (89.7% Save Percentage) early and often, as the Snipers have struggled out of the gates during this 6-game winning streak, having to pull wins from behind in 3 of the 6 games. A key factor in this series will be on the powerplay, as Northern Colorado boasts a 22.2% goal percentage with the extra man to Dallas’ 16.1%. Both teams will look to take any advantage they can get in what is bound to be a tight contest that could go a long way in shaping the Mid-Western Division playoff picture.
Each game will take place at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Plano, with game 1 starting at 7:45 PM Friday, game 2 at 8:00 PM Saturday, and game 3 at 11:15 AM on Sunday. All games can be streamed live at BDEHockey.com, and live updates can be found at our twitter and Instagram pages, @DallasSnipers.