WHL Roundup: Hebig’s hat trick boosts Blades


A busy Saturday around the horn as the 2017 Western Hockey League pre-season continued with nine games across the region.

Seattle Thunderbirds (3) at Kootenay ICE (5) – Kennewick
Seattle (1-4-0-0) // Kootenay (1-2-0-0)

The Kootenay ICE found a way into the pre-season win column, knocking off the defending Ed Chynoweth Cup champion Seattle Thunderbirds by a 5-3 final in Kennewick, Wash., Saturday afternoon.

Veteran Barrett Sheen provided double daggers for the ICE, while Nolan Orzeck (2A), Noah Philp (1G-1A) and Colton Kroeker (2A) also chipped in with multipoint performances. Former Everett Silvertips goaltender Mario Petit, who is more than familiar with the T-Birds from his time in the U.S. Division, notched 21 saves to secure the victory.

Zack Andrusiak found the back of the net twice for Seattle. His second of the afternoon put the Thunderbirds in front by a 3-1 margin only 5:48 into the second period. Ryan Pouliot and Sheen replied for the ICE before the second intermission rolled around.

Midway through the third, Sheen struck for a second time before Philp added some power-play insurance.

The Thunderbirds close the 2017 WHL pre-season with a home-and-home against the Everett Silvertips on Sept. 15 and 16. The ICE will hang around Kennewick a little longer, facing the Tri-City Americans on Sept. 12.

Everett Silvertips (1) at Prince George Cougars (0) – Langley
Everett (3-1-0-0) // Prince George (2-2-0-0)

Dorrin Luding went the distance in net and Connor Dewar registered the lone goal as the Everett Silvertips blanked the Prince George Cougars 1-0 in Langley on Saturday.

Luding, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades midway through the 2016-17 campaign, kicked aside 26 pucks to notch the goose egg. With former backup Mario Petit now stopping pucks in Cranbrook for the Kootenay ICE, the 18-year-old Luding figures to compete for more playing time in 2017-18 after seeing spot duty with Carter Hart away at the World Junior Championship last year.

Offensively, the 18-year-old Dewar continued his strong pre-season play by potting his fourth goal in as many games. The product of The Pas, Man., now has seven points (4G-3A) in four outings after collecting a career-high 30 points (14G-16A) in 71 games during the 2016-17 season.

For the Cougars, Tavin Grant earned the start and was perfect in stopping all 22 shots sent his way. Rookie Taylor Gauthier came on in relief, making 10 of 11 saves.

The Silvertips remain in Langley for a Sunday matinee against the Vancouver Giants. The Cougars will also stick around the Lower Mainland to take on the Victoria Royals Sunday.

Portland Winterhawks (6) at Red Deer Rebels (2) – Kennewick
Portland (4-2-0-0) // Red Deer (3-1-0-0)

The Portland Winterhawks secured their fourth win of the pre-season, while handling the Red Deer Rebels their first defeat, claiming a 6-2 decision Saturday in Kennewick, Wash.

Colton Veloso led the charge with a goal and two assists to boost the Winterhawks. Reece Newkirk (2A) and Henri Jokiharju (1G-1A) also enjoyed multipoint days for Portland. Between the pipes, it was Shane Farkas fighting off 27 of 29 shots for the win.

Taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission courtesy goals from Bronson Sharp and Ty Kolle, Matthew Quigley made it a 3-0 game for the Winterhawks early in the second period before Akash Bains manage to get the Rebels on the scoresheet. From there, the Winterhawks replied with three more of their own, maintaining clear control of the outcome from start to finish.

The Winterhawks also witnessed Jake Gricius striking for his fourth goal of the pre-season.

The outing marked the sixth and final of the 2017 pre-season as Portland will enjoy a nice layoff before they open the 2017-18 WHL regular season on Sept. 23 in Everett.

Red Deer will round out its pre-season slate with a Sept. 16 home date against the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Victoria Royals (2) at Vancouver Giants (3)
Victoria (1-2-0-0) // Vancouver (4-1-0-0)

Don’t look now, but the Vancouver Giants have four wins through five pre-season contests.

The Giants made it three wins in a row and four in total by claiming a 3-2 victory over the visiting Victoria Royals Saturday.

Rookie blueliner Bowen Byram, who was selected third overall at the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, put up a goal and an assist to lead the Giants. Through four games, the product of Cranbrook, B.C., now has five points (2G-3A) to his name.

The Giant built a 2-0 advantage courtesy markers from Jack Flaman and Milos Roman before Dino Kambeitz and Ryan Peckford combined to knot the affair. Then it was Byram striking with only 5:20 to go in regulation, giving the home team the win.

Todd Scott and Ryan Kubic allowed one goal apiece, sharing the crease and combining to backstop Vancouver to victory.

The Giants complete their 2017 pre-season schedule Sunday when they face the Everett Silvertips. The Royals will also end their 2017 pre-season run on Sunday when they go to blows with the Prince George Cougars in Langley.

Medicine Hat Tigers (2) at Moose Jaw Warriors (6)
Medicine Hat (2-1-0-0) // Moose Jaw (3-1-0-0)

The Medicine Hat Tigers fell for the first time in 2017 pre-season play, suffering a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Moose Jaw Warriors Saturday.

Daemon Hunt, a 2017 first-round selection of the Warriors, posted a goal and an assist. Veteran Tanner Jeannot (1G-1A) and rookie Tate Popple provided the same along the way.

In the blue paint, Adam Evanoff made 32 saves for the win.

The bright spot for the Tigers continues to be rookie scorer Josh Williams, who potted his fifth goal and seventh point in only his third pre-season game this year. The 2016 fifth-overall pick at the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, Williams opened the scoring midway through the first period, only to watch the Warriors rattle off three in reply during the second period.

Jaxon Steele got the Tabbies back within one, but once again the Warriors responded with three straight to nail the coffin shut.

Next up, the Warriors hit the highway for Brandon and a date with the Wheat Kings on Sept. 15. The Tigers will wrap the pre-season Sept. 16 in Red Deer.

Brandon Wheat Kings (1) at Regina Pats (3)
Brandon (1-1-0-0) // Regina (2-2-0-0)

Jeff de Wit logged a goal and an assist as the Regina Pats crowned the Brandon Wheat Kings by a 3-1 score Saturday.

The former Red Deer Rebel registered what went on to stand as the game-winning goal, finding twine with a power-play effort 5:06 into the second period. Koby Morrisseau and Tristen Robins also scored for Regina, while Marcus Sekundiak replied for Brandon.

Veteran netminder Tyler Brown stopped 28 pucks for the win while the newly acquired Dylan Myskiw made 22 saves in defeat.

The Pats close their pre-season with a home-and-home set against the Prince Albert Raiders on Sept. 15 and 16. The Wheat Kings will do the same against the Moose Jaw Warriors on Sept. 15 and 16.

Saskatoon Blades (5) at Prince Albert Raiders (2) – Warman, Sask.
Saskatoon (3-2-0-0) // Prince Albert (1-2-0-0)

Cameron Hebig scored three times, guiding the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-2 triumph over the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday in Warman, Sask.

Hebig, a 20-year-old product of Saskatoon, missed all of 2016-17 due to injury, but has returned to the Blades lineup looking sharp, having collected six points (5G-1A) in three pre-season games.

Also contributing to the Blades offense were Gage Ramsay and Kirby Dach, while Sean Montgomery provided both Raiders goals, bringing his pre-season totals to four goals in only two games.

Veteran puck-stopper Logan Flodell fought off 30 of 32 shots to earn the win.

Kelowna Rockets (4) at Kamloops Blazers (3) – SO
Kelowna (3-0-1-0) // Kamloops (1-2-0-1)

Jack Cowell scored the lone goal in the shootout as the Kelowna Rockets slipped past the Kamloops Blazers 4-3 on Saturday.

The Kelowna victory spoiled an energetic comeback by the hometown Blazers, who trailed the Rockets 3-0 after Kyle Topping struck only 16 seconds into the second period, piling on top of first period markers from Leif Mattson and Nolan Foote.

Justin Sigrist sparked the come-from-behind effort for Kamloops with his first of the pre-season 15:17 into the second period. Then it was Nic Holowko and Brodi Stuart striking three minutes apart midway through the third to force extra time. Stuart finished the night with a goal and an assist.

Brodan Salmond stopped all 24 shots fired at him after starting in net for the Rockets. He then gave way to Cody Porter, who held on to log the shootout victory.

The Rockets finish the pre-season undefeated in regulation with a mark of 3-0-1-0. Kamloops will close the exhibition campaign Sept. 15 when they visit the CN Centre and the Prince George Cougars.

Spokane Chiefs (3) at Tri-City Americans (2)
Spokane (2-1-0-2) // Tri-City (3-1-1-0)

Nolan Reid registered two points, including the game-winning goal, as the Spokane Chiefs held on for a 3-2 win over the Tri-City Americans Saturday night.

Reid, the former Saskatoon Blades defender, potted a power-play goal 7:36 into the third period that gave Spokane a 3-0 advantage at the time.

But it was Nolan Yaremko, playing like a man possessed to this point in the pre-season, firing home his eighth and ninth goals of the exhibition slate to close the gap. Unfortunately for the Ams, Yaremko’s second of the night came with only 11 seconds to go in regulation and the Chiefs went on to win.

Yaremko, a 19-year-old product of Spirit River, Alta., now has 11 points (9G-2A) in four pre-season contests.

Ethan McIndoe and Rykr Cole also hit paydirt for the Chiefs.

Declan Hobbs made 24 saves to claim the win, splitting time with Donovan Buskey and his perfect 10-save performance.

The Chiefs wrap up the 2017 WHL pre-season by taking on the Americans one more time, Sept. 16 back in Kennewick. Prior to that date, Tri-City will face the Kootenay ICE on Sept. 12.

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