WHL Roundup: Stars shine upon return from holiday break

Darwin Knelsen


With 11 games on Tuesday’s Western Hockey League slate, the brightest holiday lights continued to shine as a handful of the league’s stars put forth big efforts in returning from Christmas break.

In Victoria, Tyler Soy recorded a hat trick as the Royals defeated the Prince George Cougars.

In Cranbrook, Zak Zborosky scored three times and the Kootenay ICE knocked off the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

In Swift Current, Tyler Steenbergen struck for a trio of tallies as the Broncos beat up the Moose Jaw Warriors.

In Regina, it was captain Adam Brooks securing five points, including three goals, as the Pats ran over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

With a full itinerary across the league, there’s plenty more, so let’s get down to business…

Kamloops Blazers (2) at Kelowna Rockets (3)
Kamloops (21-14-1-1) // Kelowna (23-12-2-0)

The Kelowna Rockets earned a little breathing room in the B.C. Division on Tuesday, edging the Kamloops Blazers by a 3-2 final.

Michael Herringer made 30 saves for his 17th win of the season while Kole Lind hit the 20-goal plateau for the Rockets. Nick Merkley chipped in with two assists while Conner Bruggen-Cate scored the game-winning goal.

The win gave the second-place Rockets four points worth of space on the Blazers in the B.C. Division race.

Lethbridge Hurricanes (4) at Kootenay ICE (6)
Lethbridge (18-13-3-2) // Kootenay (7-22-7-1)

Zak Zborosky notched a hat trick, boosting the Kootenay ICE to a 6-4 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

The 20-year-old Regina product scored three times, including twice in the second period, securing his 24th, 25th and 26th goals of the campaign to move into second place in league goal scoring, trailing only Jayden Halbgewachs of the Moose Jaw Warriors, who sits atop the charts with 29 tallies.

Defenceman Cale Fleury had three assists for the ICE, while Payton Lee made 30 saves for his sixth win of the season.

Calgary Hitmen (4) at Medicine Hat Tigers (5) – SO
Calgary (13-16-2-1) // Medicine Hat (26-10-1-0)

The Medicine Hat Tigers won their fifth consecutive game, sneaking past the Calgary Hitmen by a 5-4 final via the shootout Tuesday evening.

Max Gerlach recorded the lone goal in the skills competition to give the Tigers the win, while Nick Schneider made 33 saves, plus three more in the shootout to notch his 24th win of the season.

Import John Dahlstrom tallied a goal and an assist to help the Tigers along, while Beck Malenstyn had two goals and an assist in defeat.

Saskatoon Blades (3) at Prince Albert Raiders (5)
Saskatoon (13-20-3-1) // Prince Albert (8-26-1-1)

Ian Scott made 38 saves and Drew Warkentine had a goal and an assist as the Prince Albert Raiders defeated the Saskatoon Blades 5-3 Tuesday night.

The Raiders built a 3-0 lead in the first period courtesy goals from Cody Paivarinta, Luke Coleman and Cole Fonstad before Logan Christensen got the Blades on the board late in the opening period. Warkentine restored the three-goal advantage late in the second period with what went on to be the eventual game-winner.

Edmonton Oil Kings (0) at Red Deer Rebels (3)
Edmonton (16-16-3-1) // Red Deer (17-14-4-2)

Riley Lamb made 28 saves for his third career shutout as the Red Deer Rebels blanked the Edmonton Oil Kings 3-0 on Tuesday.

It was a goaltender’s battle from start to finish as Oil Kings netminder Patrick Dea also turned aside 39 shots in a losing cause.

Evan Polei’s short-handed goal in the second period stood as the eventual winner, with Matthew Campese and Brandon Hagel providing extra insurance.

Lamb’s effort was good enough for his 10th win of the campaign.

Brandon Wheat Kings (4) at Regina Pats (7)
Brandon (15-15-4-0) // Regina (23-3-6-0)

Adam Brooks had three goals and two assists, while Sam Steel recorded a goal and four helpers to lead the Regina Pats to a 7-4 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings Tuesday night.

Tyler Coulter managed three points (2G-1A) for the Wheat Kings.

Between the pipes, Tyler Brown made 31 saves for his 16th win of the season.

Spokane Chiefs (2) at Seattle Thunderbirds (3)
Spokane (14-14-5-1) // Seattle (18-13-2-1)

Rylan Toth made 41 saves, backstopping the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 3-2 win over the Spokane Chiefs on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old puckstopper turned in a stellar performance, earning his 14th win of the season.

Ethan Bear, Scott Eansor and Sami Moilanen provided the run support, with both Bear and Eansor notching multipoint nights with a goal and an assist each.

Moose Jaw Warriors (1) at Swift Current Broncos (6)
Moose Jaw (20-9-4-1) // Swift Current (19-10-3-4)

With a 6-1 win Tuesday night, the Swift Current Broncos pulled even with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL’s East Division standings.

Both teams sit with 45 points apiece, though the Warriors have two games in hand on the Broncos.

Tyler Steenbergen recorded a hat trick to spur the Broncos, while Aleksi Heponiemi had a goal and two assists.

The Broncos outshot the Warriors 49-29 in the process.

Taz Burman made 28 saves for his ninth win of the year.

Portland Winterhawks (2) at Tri-City Americans (6)
Portland (19-17-1-0) // Tri-City (20-15-3-0)

Michael Rasmussen had two goals and an assist to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 6-2 win over the Portland Winterhawks Tuesday night.

The Americans went 3-for-9 with the man advantage, including Rasmussen’s pair. Defenceman Dylan Coghlan had three assists along the way.

Evan Sarthou turned aside 23 pucks for his fifth win of the season.

Everett Silvertips (4) at Vancouver Giants (5) – OT
Everett (24-4-6-0) // Vancouver (14-18-1-2)

The Vancouver Giants secured a third straight win with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Everett Silvertips on Tuesday.

Ty Ronning scored his 12th of the season only 31 seconds into overtime to give Vancouver the triumph.

James Malm finished the night with a goal and two assists for the Giants, while overage import Dominic Zwerger struck twice for the Silvertips.

Ryan Kubic made 30 saves for his 12th win of the season.

Prince George Cougars (1) at Victoria Royals (5)
Prince George (26-9-2-0) // Victoria (18-15-4-0)

Tyler Soy scored three times as the Victoria Royals trounced the Prince George Cougars by a 5-1 margin Tuesday evening.

Soy, a prospect of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, notched his 13th, 14th and 15th goals of the year to guide the Royals, adding an assist for good measure.

Goaltender Griffen Outhouse made 42 saves for his 18th win of the season.

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