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WHL Roundup: Sideroff boosts Blazers to playoff berth with win over T-Birds
Allen Douglas

 

Lethbridge Hurricanes (3) at
Brandon Wheat Kings (2) – OT

Lethbridge (40-17-4-3) // Brandon (28-26-7-3)

The Lethbridge Hurricanes emerged triumphant for the fourth consecutive game and hit the 40-win plateau in the same breath, using overtime to defeat the Brandon Wheat Kings by a 3-2 margin Wednesday night.

Giorgio Estephan scored his 28th goal of the season 46 seconds into overtime to give the Hurricanes the win. That goal completed a come-from-behind effort from the visiting ‘Canes, as Alec Baer’s 13th of the season tied the game 2-2 with 5:23 remaining in the second period.

Ryan Vandervlis used a power-play to score his sixth goal of the season, opening the scoring midway through the first period. Before the opening period came to a close, Tyler Coulter notched his 27th of the campaign, tying the game 1-1 with 40 seconds to go.

Nolan Patrick registered his 17th of the year midway through the second period to give the Wheat Kings their only lead of the game.

Stuart Skinner finished the night with 32 saves for his 32nd win of the season.

Calen Addison (2A), Baer (1G-1A) and Brennan Menell (2A) enjoyed multipoint evenings for Lethbridge. Coulter (1G-1A) responded in like fashion for Brandon.

The win keeps the Hurricanes within four points of the Medicine Hat Tigers for first place in the Central Division. The Tigers were 6-5 overtime winners at Prince Albert Wednesday night. Both Lethbridge and Medicine Hat have eight games remaining in their regular season schedules.

Snagging one single point via overtime, the Wheat Kings hold down the first wild card seed in the Eastern Conference and are eight points ahead of the Calgary Hitmen, owners of the second wild card slot.

Kootenay ICE (5) at Edmonton Oil Kings (2)
Kootenay (14-38-8-2) // Edmonton (20-39-4-1)

Colton Kroeker exploded for four points, including three assists, as the Kootenay ICE trumped the Edmonton Oil Kings by a 5-2 margin Wednesday night.

The ICE converted twice with the man advantage. Cale Fleury opened the scoring with a power-play goal 3:55 into the first period and Vince Loschiavo used an even-strength effort to make it a 2-0 game only 1:20 later.

Davis Koch pulled the Oil Kings within one before the first period closed and Kootenay carried a 2-1 lead into the dressing room after 20 minutes of play.

Dallas Hines scored his club’s second power-play goal of the night only 1:48 into the second period, restoring the two-goal advantage and Kroeker made it a three-goal cushion with 56 seconds remaining in the middle period.

Conner McDonald added the final marker for the Oil Kings, while Brett Davis deposited his 17th of the campaign into an empty net.

Payton Lee made 30 saves for his 10th win of the season.

In addition to Kroeker, Loschiavo (1G-2A) and Davis (1G-1A) logged multipoint nights for the ICE.

Spokane Chiefs (4) at Everett Silvertips (1)
Spokane (26-27-6-3) // Everett (38-14-8-2)

Kailer Yamamoto recorded four points, including three assists, as the Spokane Chiefs stunned the Everett Silvertips 4-1 Wednesday evening.

Jaret Anderson-Dolan opened the scoring midway through the first period, collecting his 34th goal of the season, before Yamamoto made it a 2-0 game by sending his 36th of the campaign to the back of the net late in the second period. The Chiefs extended their lead to 3-0 with a power-play effort only 1:13 into the third period, as Keanu Yamamoto tickled twine for the 24th time this season.

Riley Sutter managed to get Everett on the board with a power-play marker of his own, but Riley Woods sealed the deal with an empty-net tally late in the proceedings.

Jayden Sittler made 32 saves for his 15th win of the season.

Hudson Elynuik (2A) enjoyed a multipoint night alongside Ka. Yamamoto.

The win keeps Spokane within nine points of the Portland Winterhawks for the second and final wild card seed in the Western Conference. The Chiefs own one game in hand on the Winterhawks.

As for the Silvertips, they sit tied at 86 points with the Seattle Thunderbirds for first place in the U.S. Division. Everett holds two games in hand on Seattle.

Seattle Thunderbirds (4) at Kamloops Blazers (5) – OT
Seattle (40-18-4-2) // Kamloops (38-21-2-4)

The Kamloops Blazers are off to the post-season following a 5-4 overtime victory against the Seattle Thunderbirds Wednesday night.

Deven Sideroff scored his second of the night and 35th of the season 1:52 into overtime to guarantee the Blazers a ticket to the dance known as the 2017 WHL Playoffs.

The decision didn’t come without drama.

Trailing 4-3 with goaltender Rylan Toth at the bench for the extra attacker, Keegan Kolesar’s second of the night and 24th goal of the campaign tied the game 4-4 with only 13 seconds remaining in regulation, forcing the extra period.

Garret Pilon and Luc Smith scored 54 seconds apart to give Kamloops a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game. But Kamloops product Ryan Gropp scored two goals of his own to even the affair for Seattle, as the two teams went to the dressing rooms facing a 2-2 deadlock after two periods.

Kolesar gave Seattle its first lead of the game 3:22 into the third period before Dallas Valentine used a sneaky backhand shot to draw the affair even once again. Sideroff’s first of the night then put Kamloops in front 4-3.

Connor Ingram made 31 saves for his 24th win of the season.

Rudolfs Balcers (2A), Quinn Benjafield (2A), Sideroff (2G) and Pilon (1G-1A) weighed into the Kamloops offense with multiple points. Gropp (2G-1A), Mathew Barzal (3A) and Kolesar (2G) did the same for Seattle.

In addition to clinching a playoff berth, the Blazers move within three points of the Prince George Cougars for first place in the B.C. Division. Both squads have seven games remaining on their respective regular season schedules.

As for the Thunderbirds, the single point is good enough to pull them into a tie with the Everett Silvertips for first in the U.S. Division, though Everett has two games in hand.

Prince George Cougars (1) at Kelowna Rockets (5)
Prince George (40-20-3-2) // Kelowna (38-21-5-0)

Calvin Thurkauf collected three points, including two goals, as the Kelowna Rockets defeated the Prince George Cougars 5-1 Wednesday night.

The Rockets tacked three power-play goals on the board, including the opening tally from Thurkauf, which came 4:27 into the second period. Kyle Topping’s 13th of the season made it a 2-0 game 9:53 into the second period and Thurkauf’s second of the night gave the hosts a commanding 3-0 advantage 1:15 later. Nick Merkley piled on with another power-play goal before the second period came to a close.

Radovan Bondra got the Cougars on the board 1:04 into the third period, but Dillon Dube ended any comeback hopes by giving the Rockets a third power-play marker.

Michael Herringer made 25 saves for his 27th win of the season.

Dube (1G-1A), Reid Gardiner (2A), Cal Foote (2A) and Thurkauf (2G-1A) put forth impressive nights offensively for Kelowna.

The triumph puts the Rockets only one point back of the Kamloops Blazers for second place in the log-jammed B.C. Division. Kelowna also trails the first place Cougars by a mere four points and owns one game in hand on both Kamloops and Prince George.

Calgary Hitmen (3) at Moose Jaw Warriors (4)
Calgary (24-29-8-2) // Moose Jaw (39-17-7-1)

The Moose Jaw Warriors won their seventh consecutive outing, skating to a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen Wednesday night.

Zach Sawchenko earned first star honours, making 33 saves for his 28th win of the season.

Moose Jaw jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period as Brett Howden and Tanner Jeannot scored. Jayden Halbgewachs made it 3-0 with a power-play goal 5:29 into the second period.

Jake Kryski responded for Calgary and the Hitmen trailed 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Matteo Gennaro’s 38th of the season came 1:54 into the third period and Brady Reagan tied the affair 8:08 into the third period, but Yan Khomenko struck back 1:28 later, providing the game-winner for the Warriors.

The win further secures Moose Jaw’s hold on second place in the East Division, giving the Warriors 86 points along with a 12-point cushion on the third place Swift Current Broncos, who hold two games in hand.

The Hitmen remain in the second wild card slot in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Saskatoon Blades. Both teams have nine games remaining.

Medicine Hat Tigers (6) at Prince Albert Raiders (5) – OT
Medicine Hat (45-18-1-0) // Prince Albert (17-40-5-2)

The Medicine Hat Tigers scored twice in the third period to force overtime before Steven Owre completed the comeback, giving his club a 6-5 win over the Prince Albert Raiders Wednesday night.
Owre’s 23rd of the season came 31 seconds into overtime.

The third period was a busy one for both side as the two teams combined for six goals. Tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, Cain Leth scored his second of the night and 21st of the season to put Prince Albert up 3-2 only 1:19 into the third. Parker Kelly added to the lead 2:42 later and it was 4-2 for the Raiders.

Matt Bradley hit the 30-goal plateau and got his team back within one only 1:12 later, but D-Jay Jerome struck 43 seconds down the line to restore the Raiders’ two-goal advantage.
John Dahlstrom found the back of the net with his 25th of the season midway through the period and Mark Rassell scored his second of the night to the tie the game on a power play with 5:56 to go.

Michael Bullion made 36 saves for his 17th win of the season.

Bradley (1G-1A), Owre (1G-1A), Mason Shaw (1G-1A), David Quenneville (2A) and Rassell (2G) contributed in big ways to the Medicine Hat offense. Curtis Miske (1G-2A), Kelly (1G-1A) and Leth (2G) did the same for Prince Albert.

Medicine Hat remains four points ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes for first place in the Central Division. Both clubs have eight games remaining.

Portland Winterhawks (5) at Vancouver Giants (1)
Portland (33-26-1-3) // Vancouver (19-40-2-3)

Keegan Iverson scored twice to lead the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Giants Wednesday evening.

Both Iverson’s goals came with the man advantage, his first of the night coming 8:23 into the first period. Jake Gricius also scored twice on the night, with his first coming 5:53 into the second period. Iverson then hit the 20-goal plateau with his second of the evening late in the middle period.

Matt Barberis got the Giants on the scoresheet 2:47 into the third period, tallying a power-play marker of his own. A late empty-net goal from Matt Revel made it 4-1 Portland before Gricius collected his second of the game with Portland’s third power-play conversion of the night.

Between the pipes, Ryan Kubic faced 55 shots, turning aside 51 in defeat. At the other end, Cole Kehler kicked out 17 pucks for his 25th win of the season.

Caleb Jones (2A), Iverson (2G) and Gricius (2G) helped pace the Portland offense.

The win keeps the Winterhawks nine points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs for the second wild card seed in the Western Conference, though the Chiefs hold one game in hand. Portland trails the Victoria Royals – owners of the first wild card position – by five points.

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