WHL Roundup: Skinner earns 100th victory as Broncos double up Warriors

David Zammit/Swift Current Broncos


Moose Jaw Warriors (2) at Swift Current Broncos (4)
Moose Jaw (44-12-1-2) // Swift Current (43-13-4-1)

The Swift Current Broncos never trailed Wednesday as they upended the league-leading Moose Jaw Warriors to move both clubs into a dead heat with 91 points atop the Eastern Conference.

Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers) and Colby Sissons (New Jersey Devils) each had a goal and an assist in the victory while Artyom Minulin added three assists. In his introduction to the rivalry between the two top teams in Eastern Conference, Stuart Skinner (Edmonton Oilers) stopped 37 of 39 shots to earn the victory, the 100th of his Western Hockey League career.

Heponiemi and Tanner Jeannot traded goals in the first period. After Max Patterson scored the lone goal of the second, Beck Malenstyn scored the eventual game-winner while short-handed 7:07 into the third. Jayden Halbgewachs (San Jose Sharks) would respond 22 seconds after Malenstyn’s goal with his league-leading 57th goal of the season, but Sissons’ scored nine minutes later to keep the game out of reach.

Brody Willms stopped 21 of 25 shots to take the loss as the Broncos claimed their first win in regulation against Moose Jaw since Oct. 8, 2017.

Giorgio Estephan added a pair of assists in the game, while captain Glenn Gawdin (Calgary Flames) extended his point streak to 20 games with an assist, the 300th point of his Western Hockey League career.

Kale Clague (Los Angeles Kings) and Brayden Burke each had a pair of assists in the loss for the Warriors.

The two teams will meet for the final time in the regular season Saturday, March 10 (7:00 p.m. PST).

Red Deer Rebels (4) at Calgary Hitmen (6)
Red Deer (21-27-10-3) // Calgary (18-33-5-2)

Jakob Stukel (Vancouver Canucks) and Jake Kryski each had a goal and three points while Vladislav Yeryomenko and Riley Stotts both added a goal and an assist as the Calgary Hitmen cooled down the Central Division’s hottest club in a 6-4 result against the Red Deer Rebels.

The Hitmen hung even with the Rebels through 40 minutes, then tallied three goals in the deciding third to power themselves to a victory.

After Mason McCarty opened the scoring, goals from Stukel, Tristen Nielsen, and Luke Coleman gave the Hitmen a 3-1 advantage by the mid-point of the second. True to their recent play though, the Rebels had an answer in the dying moments of the second. Brandon Hagel (Buffalo Sabres) scored short-handed and McCarty added his second of the game to tie things up after 40 minutes.

Kristian Reichel would then score 32 seconds into the third to make it a 4-3 game favouring Red Deer, but the Hitmen had an answer and then some. Kryski tied up the game with his 11th of the season and Yeryomenko scored the go-ahead goal seven minutes later while Stotts added the insurance goal into the empty net with 61 seconds to go.

Nick Schneider (Calgary Flames) earned the victory with 19 saves on 23 shots. Riley Lamb had 16 saves on 19 shots while Ethan Anders had eight saves on 10 shots.

Egor Zamula had a pair of assists for his first multi-point game of the season. Carson Sass and Grayson Pawlenchuk also had a pair of assists on the Rebels’ side.

Prince Albert Raiders (8) at Lethbridge Hurricanes (2)
Prince Albert (24-25-9-2) // Lethbridge (29-25-6-0)

Fighting to stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Prince Albert Raiders exploded for a season-high eight goals in a road win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Sean Montgomery and Cole Fonstad each had three points and five other players finished with multi-point efforts in the lopsided victory as Ian Scott (Toronto Maple Leafs) stopped 35 of 37 shots for the victory.

Brett Leason scored 16 seconds into the game and Montgomery scored 2:37 later to gave the Raiders an early 2-0 lead they would not have to look back from. Jadon Joseph would cut the lead to one later on in the period, but Justin Nachbauer’s eighth of the season would restore the two-goal lead after 20 minutes.

The Raiders continued their offensive surge in the second with goals from captain Curtis Miske and Fonstad, extending the lead to four goals after 40 minutes. Prince Albert continued to pour things on in the third as goals from Kody McDonald, Montgomery’s second of the game and Sergei Sapego came in a 135-second span while Keltie Jeri-Leon had the lone goal in response for Lethbridge.

Reece Klassen stopped 20 of 27 shots while Logan Flodell stopped six of seven shots in the defeat as the two split time in net.

With 12 games remaining in their season, the Raiders moved back within six points of the Saskatoon Blades for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The loss kept the Hurricanes three points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers for first in the Central Division, with the Hurricanes now just holding a single game in-hand on the Tigers.

Kamloops Blazers (3) at Portland Winterhawks (1)
Kamloops (27-29-1-4) // Portland (35-20-1-3)

Jermaine Loewen scored a pair of goals as part of a three-goal second period for the Kamloops Blazers as the B.C. Division club downed the Portland Winterhawks by a 3-1 score Wednesday to aid their playoff hopes late in the regular season.

Cody Glass (Vegas Golden Knights) opened the game with his 28th of the season on the power play seven minutes into the first, but the Blazers rallied in the second with Loewen’s 30th and 31st goals of the season while captain Nick Chyzowski notched the game-winner, his 17th of the campaign.

Dylan Ferguson (Vegas Golden Knights) made 30 saves on 31 shots to record his 22nd win of the season.

With an assist on Glass’ goal, Winterhawks forward Skyler McKenzie (Winnipeg Jets) recorded the 200th point of his WHL career.

Cole Kehler (Los Angeles Kings) stopped 19 of 22 shots in 40 minutes of action while Shane Farkas stopped all four shots sent his way in 18:06 of action. Joe Gatenby had a pair of assists for the only other multi-point game in the contest.

With the Blazers’ win and the regulation loss by the Seattle Thunderbirds, Kamloops pulled themselves to within six points of the T-Birds for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Seattle Thunderbirds (2) at Tri-City Americans (4)
Seattle (28-22-7-2) // Tri-City (30-21-7-1)

Jordan Topping scored a pair of goals and Michael Rasmussen (Detroit Red Wings) added a goal and an assist as the Tri-City Americans aided their playoff positioning with a 4-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Topping had the lone goal of the first period to open the scoring, setting the stage for a flurry of goals in the second.

Austin Strand (Los Angeles Kings) tied up the game 18 seconds into the period, but Nolan Yaremko helped the Ams take over the lead 2:11 later. Jarrett Tyszka (Montreal Canadiens) would once again even up the score, but goals from Topping and Rasmussen came in the rest of the middle period to deliver the victory.

Liam Hughes took the loss, but put up an impressive effort for Seattle, stopping 41 of 45 shots. It was Patrick Dea who earned the victory Wednesday though, stopping 26 of 28 shots, including 14 in the third to preserve the Ams’ lead.

Jake Bean (Carolina Hurricanes), Juuso Valimaki (Calgary Flames), Dylan Coghlan (Vegas Golden Knights), Isaac Johnson, Riley Sawchuk, and Parker AuCoin all had a single assist for the Ams in the victory. Nolan Volcan had Seattle’s lone assist in the loss.

The win helped the Americans open a three-point gap between themselves and the Thunderbirds in the wild card race.

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