WHL Roundup: Tigers’ Rock ’em Sock ’em offence bruises Rebels

Randy Feere


Saskatoon Blades (1) at Moose Jaw Warriors (5)
Saskatoon (31-31-2-1) // Moose Jaw (48-14-1-2)

The Moose Jaw Warriors bounced back from a Friday loss in Brandon by securing a 5-1 home ice triumph over the Saskatoon Blades Saturday evening.

The powerful Warriors offense was once again present Saturday as Moose Jaw received scoring from five different culprits.

Justin Almeida notched his 38th goal of the campaign to put the Warriors in front with a power-play conversion only 4:15 into the proceedings.

Defenceman Josh Brook (Montreal Canadiens) doubled the advantage for the host Warriors, securing his third goal of the season with 5:33 to go in the first period.

Late in the middle period, Blades veteran Josh Paterson cut into the Warriors lead, finding the back of the net with his 28th goal of the season. Unfortunately for the Bridge City boys, Paterson’s marker was the only one to find the scoresheet.

With a 2-1 advantage, the Warriors padded the lead in the third. Jayden Halbgewachs (San Jose Sharks) added to his outstanding scoring totals, notching his 61st goal of the campaign. The captain, Brett Howden (New York Rangers), found the back of the net with his 21st of the season and Tristin Langan rounded out the scoring with a short-handed effort late in regulation.

Brody Willms made 25 saves for his 33rd win of the year, helping the Warriors maintain a slim one-point cushion over the Swift Current Broncos for the WHL’s East Division lead. The victory also pushed Moose Jaw to 99 points on the season.

Lethbridge Hurricanes (1) at Prince Albert Raiders (4)
Lethbridge (32-26-6-0) // Prince Albert (29-25-9-2)

Make it six straight for the surging Prince Albert Raiders.

With the WHL Playoffs looming, the Raiders are roaring at the right time, having won their sixth consecutive contest with a 4-1 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes Saturday night.

40 minutes of play at the Art Hauser Centre saw the Hurricanes and Raiders trade tallies as rookie Dylan Cozens continued his red-hot freshman campaign by scoring his 21st goal of the season only to see Prince Albert defenceman Brayden Pachal post his sixth of the year to tie the game in the second period.

A three-goal third period, including two strikes in the span of 58 seconds, ultimately sank the Hurricanes. Defenceman Vojtech Budik (Buffalo Sabres) registered a power-play marker 8:51 into the third period, pushing the Raiders in front with a 2-1 lead. Less than a minute later, Max Martin found his seventh of the season to extend the advantage. Cole Fonstad hit the 20-goal plateau for this first time in his career, rounding out the scoring in Prince Albert.

Ian Scott (Toronto Maple Leafs) turned aside 25 shots for his 21st win of the year.

With the victory, the Raiders built a four-point pad over the Saskatoon Blades for the second wild card seed in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.

Brandon Wheat Kings (1) at Swift Current Broncos (3)
Brandon (34-26-3-2) // Swift Current (46-14-4-2)

The Swift Current Broncos collected a 3-1 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday evening, ensuring themselves of points in four consecutive outings (3-0-0-1) with the WHL Playoffs drawing near.

In search of an East Division crown, the win was of the critical variety for Speedy Creek, as they continue to chase the Moose Jaw Warriors who own a one-point lead and collected a win of their own on Saturday.

After Linden McCorrister put the Wheat Kings in front 1-0 only 5:44 into the first period, the Broncos struck for three unanswered goals to take the contest.

Overage veteran Matteo Gennaro reached the 40-goal plateau for the second straight season when he tied the game 12:56 into the first. The second period saw Finnish phenom Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers) get in on the act, securing his 27th goal of the campaign to make it a 2-1 game after 40 minutes of play.

Beck Malenstyn (Washington Capitals), a mid-season acquisition from the Calgary Hitmen, drained one into an empty net to seal the outcome.

Stuart Skinner (Edmonton Oilers) put forth an 18-save performance for his 28th win of the season.

Regina Pats (3) at Calgary Hitmen  (2) — OT
Regina (34-25-5-1) // Calgary (19-35-8-2)

The Regina Pats were given a challenge by the Calgary Hitmen in the Stampede City Saturday, but managed to prevail in overtime thanks to their Albertan captain.

Tristin Nielsen opened the scoring just 80 seconds into the game with his 14th of the season and Mark Kastelic’s 16th of the campaign would double the Hitmen’s lead 3:18 into the third period.

On a night when the big players in the East Division won though, the Pats worked hard to keep pace. Thirty-eight seconds after Kastelic’s goal, Aaron Hyman’s second of the season got the Pats on the board.

Just past the midway point of the period, the Pats tied up the game on Jake Leschyshyn’s (Vegas Golden Knights) 16th of the season. That set the stage for captain Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks) to score the overtime-winner 32 seconds into the extra period delivering a crucial extra point for the Pats.

Max Paddock came through with a 23 save performance for the win. Nick Schneider (Calgary Flames) stopped 31 of 34, taking the loss and single point for his club.

Cameron Hebig (Edmonton Oilers) had assists on all three Pats goals. Cale Fleury (Montreal Canadiens), Josh Mahura (Anaheim Ducks) and Emil Oksanen also had assists for the Pats while Jakob Stukel (Vancouver Canucks) had the lone assist for the Hitmen.

The win helped move the Pats one point ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings for third in the East Division.

Red Deer Rebels (1) at Medicine Hat Tigers (6)
Red Deer (24-29-10-3) // Medicine Hat (33-24-8-0)

The Medicine Hat Tigers moved two points closer to clinching the Central Division Saturday, scoring at will against the visiting Red Deer Rebels.

Ryan Jevne and Gary Haden each scored twice, with Jevne hitting the 20-goal plateau in the victory. Haden had the only goal of the first before the Tigers added three more in an 11:25 span during the second to build a 4-0 lead. Hunter Donohoe got one goal back for the Rebels to cut the Tigers’ lead to three after 40 minutes, but it wouldn’t be enough Saturday.

Goals from James Hamblin and Jevne’s second of the game featured in the final period as the Tigers improved to 5-0-1-0 in their last six games and now lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes by four points for the lead in the Central.

Michael Bullion stopped 17 of 18 shots for the win, his 16th of the season. Riley Lamb and Ethan Anders faced a 54-shot barrage, recording 26 and 22 saves respectively.

With the loss, the Rebels’ three-game winning streak came to an end while they remained seven points ahead of the idle Kootenay ICE for third place in the Central.

Victoria Royals (7) at Prince George Cougars (3)
Victoria (36-24-4-2) // Prince George (23-34-4-4)

The Victoria Royals and Prince George Cougars played back-and-forth hockey for the first 40 minutes before the Royals charged ahead in the third to exact some revenge after a loss in overtime on Friday.

Goals from Tyler Soy (Anaheim Ducks) and Scott Walford (Montreal Canadiens) bookended a goal from Aaron Boyd in the first period to keep the Royals ahead by one after 20 minutes.

Goals from Brogan O’Brien and Jackson Leppard did the same to Jared Freadrich’s 12th of the season in the second to keep the two clubs tied after 40 minutes, but the Royals would have the last laugh Saturday.

Goals from Noah Gregor (San Jose Sharks), Kade Jensen, Chaz Reddekopp (Los Angeles Kings), and Tarun Fizer’s first career WHL goal followed in the third to build a four-goal lead the Royals could use to bring themselves back into the race for the B.C. Division title.

The Royals’ two Matthews didn’t find the back of the next, but contributed five assists, with Matthew Phillips (Calgary Flames) having three helpers to Matthew Smith’s pair of assists. Soy also had a pair of assists to give him a three-point game. Jensen added an assist for the multi-point game.

Dean McNabb earned the start, making 13 saves before Griffen Outhouse shut the door on the Cougars’ final nine shots. Tavin Grant stopped 29 of 36 shots while taking the loss.

Kamloops Blazers (4) at Vancouver Giants (5)
Kamloops (29-33-1-4) // Vancouver (33-22-6-3)

After missing out on an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot last night on the road, the Vancouver Giants didn’t disappoint in front of their faithful fans at the Langley Events Centre.

Nine different players found the back of the net as the Giants raced out to a 4-0 lead, only to see it closed to a 4-3 gap before the teams traded goals to close out the game.

Giants captain Tyler Benson (Edmonton Oilers) scored the game-winning goal late in the second period of Saturday’s contest while David Tendeck stopped 30 of 34 shots for the victory.

Alex Kannok Leipert, Brayden Watts, and Hunor Torzsok’s first career WHL goal featured in the first period while Darian Skeoch scored 4:52 into the second to create Vancouver’s lead.The Blazers fired back in the middle period though with goals from Joe Gatenby, who wound up with a four-point night, Jermaine Loewen’s 34th of the season and Luc Smith’s 20th of the campaign brought Kamloops right back into things.

Benson would score the eventual game-winner late in the second to keep the Giants in charge when Nolan Kneen scored in the third to close the gap to a single goal again.

Max Palaga and Dylan Ferguson (Vegas Golden Knights) combined for 21 saves Saturday in the loss.

Davis Koch added a pair of assists for the Giants in the win.

While the Giants clinched a playoff spot, the playoff hopes of the Blazers took a shot as they now trail the Seattle Thunderbirds for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference by seven points.

Seattle Thunderbirds (1) at Everett Silvertips (2) — OT
Seattle (30-24-8-2) // Everett (43-18-2-3)

If there was any doubt as to why the Everett Silvertips are as good as they are this season, Saturday’s contest against the Seattle Thunderbirds was a prime case to removing all doubt.

The Silvertips grounded out their 16th one-goal victory to continue their dominance over the U.S. Division.

Patrick Bajkov, who set the team’s franchise record for goals Friday, added to the new record with his 30th of the season to open the game. Noah Philp responded with his 14th of the season in the second to even up the game, but the Silvertips would still come out on top.

Nearly three minutes into overtime, Connor Dewar struck for his 35th of the season, securing the Silvertips’ 90 and 91st points of the season.

Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) stopped 17 of 18 shots to backstop his team to another victory. Liam Hughes put in a valiant effort, stopping 44 shots though he took the overtime loss. Captain Matt Fonteyne added a pair of assists to give him 200 career points while Sean Richards also factored into the game with a helper. Bajkov assisted on the game-winner in overtime to give him a multi-point game.

The single point still helped the Thunderbirds, who extended their lead over the Kamloops Blazers for the final wild card spot to seven points.

Spokane Chiefs (4) at Kelowna Rockets (2)
Spokane (38-21-3-2) // Kelowna (38-22-4-2)

For the second time in as many nights, a U.S. Division club got the better of the Kelowna Rockets.

Hudson Elynuik (Carolina Hurricanes) scored goals 25, 26, and 27 of the season for his second career WHL hat trick, scoring two of those goals late to provide the different in the game.

After Elynuik scored the only goal of the first, Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia Flyers) answered back for the Rockets with his 40th of the season to keep the game even after 40 minutes. Ty Smith put the Chiefs ahead in the early stage of the third, but Kole Lind (Vancouver Canucks) came right back with his 37th of the season to tie the game up once again.

That would be the end of Kelowna’s offence on the evening though as Elynuik potted the two late goals, one with 1:14 to go and the empty-net goal with 16 seconds left, to cap off the victory.

Having won their fifth straight game, the Chiefs became the fourth Western Conference club to eclipse 80 points this season, but remained third in the U.S. Division.

The loss closed the Rockets’ lead in the B.C. Division to four points.

Portland Winterhawks (5) at Tri-City Americans (0)
Portland (39-20-1-4) // Tri-City (32-23-8-1)

For the second straight game, Shane Farkas was rock solid in net, stopping all 30 shots to blank the Tri-City Americans by a 5-0 score.

Cody Glass (Vegas Golden Knights) and Lane Gilliss each had a pair of goals, but they weren’t alone as the Winterhawks’ offence got contributions from all areas.

Kieffer Bellows (New York Islanders) had a goal and an assist, Henri Jokiharju (Chicago Blackhawks) contributed three assists while Dennis Cholowski (Detroit Red Wings) added a pair of helpers. Skyler McKenzie (Winnipeg Jets), Jake Gricius, and Ryan Hughes each added a single assist in the win.

Farkas was key to the victory despite the offensive effort, stopping eight shots in the first, 15 in the second, and seven in the third. He’s now won his past seven straight starts.

Patrick Dea and Beck Warm combined for 38 saves. Juuso Valimaki (Calgary Flames) led all Americans skaters with six shots.
The loss kept the Americans at 73 points, just three ahead of the T-Birds, while the Winterhawks kept pace with the Silvertips and Chiefs in the top three of the U.S. Division.

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