WHL Roundup: Valimaki, Mattson power Americans, Rockets to huge victories Saturday

Robert Murray/Marissa Baecker


Regina Pats (2) at Moose Jaw Warriors (3)
Regina (33-25-5-1) // Moose Jaw (45-12-1-2)

The Moose Jaw Warriors never trailed and used three different goal scorers Saturday to secure a 3-2 win over Regina Pats in the finale of the regular season series between the two clubs.

Tristin Langan and Justin Almeida scored in the first while Jayden Halbgewachs (San Jose Sharks) added his league-leading 58th goal of the season in the victory. Brody Willms stopped 28 of 30 shots to get a small measure of revenge against a Pats squad that had beat him twice last weekend, also picking up an assist on Moose Jaw’s second goal of the game.

Down 3-0 after Halbgewachs’ goal, the Pats responded with goals from Jesse Gabrielle (Boston Bruins) and Robbie Holmes’ 15th of the season, but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide in the game. Max Paddock stopped 23 of 26 shots in the defeat.

Only one goal out of the five, Almeida’s first period strike, came on the power play with the other four coming at even strength.

Captain Brett Howden (Tampa Bay Lightning), Kale Clague (Los Angeles Kings), and Oleg Sosunov (Tampa Bay Lightning) had assists for the Warriors Saturday. Pats captain Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks) and Koby Morrisseau had the helpers for Regina Saturday.

The season series between the two clubs ended with the Warriors holding a 6-2 record against the Pats while Regina went 2-5-1-0 in the eight-game series, with three of the games decided by a single goal.

The win moved the Warriors two points up on the Swift Current Broncos for first place in the East Division and the conference lead as well. The Pats are now just three points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings for third in the East Division with Brandon still in action.

Brandon Wheat Kings (4) at Medicine Hat Tigers (3) — OT
Brandon (32-24-3-2) // Medicine Hat (31-24-8-0)

A back-and-forth contest ended on a goal from Cole Reinhardt as the Brandon Wheat Kings aided their playoff positioning with a 4-3 overtime victory Saturday in Medicine Hat.

Stelio Mattheos (Carolina Hurricanes) and Ryan Jevne traded goals in the first to keep the game tied through 20 minutes. A scoreless second shifted the pressure on both teams into the third, where the Wheat Kings were the first team to strike. Reinhart’s first of the game and a short-handed goal from Evan Weinger put Brandon up by a pair.

The Tigers had a response though, with goals from David Quenneville (New York Islanders) and Mark Rassell’s 100th career goal to tie the game up and force overtime.

It only took 66 seconds to decide the game once the teams got to overtime though as Reinhardt struck for his second of the night, Mattheos picking up his third point of the evening.

Dylan Myskiw stood tall for the Wheat Kings, stopping 31 of 34 shots in the victory. In his WHL debut, Kaedan Lane took the loss, stopping 10 of 14 shots.

Quenneville also finished with a three-point game, adding a pair of assists to become the first defenceman in the WHL to reach 70 points this season. Jevne and Rassell each had a goal and an assist in the loss.

With the win, the Wheat Kings pulled themselves to back within three points of the Regina Pats for third in the division with three games in-hand. The Tigers remained in the lead for the Central Division, four points ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Swift Current Broncos (3) at Red Deer Rebels (5)
Swift Current (43-14-4-1) // Red Deer (22-28-10-3)

The Red Deer Rebels snapped a two-game losing streak in a big way Saturday at home, scoring four goals in a 10:13 span during the third period to upend the Swift Current Broncos.

Captain Grayson Pawlenchuk led the way with a pair of goals, helping to tie up the game in the third while Riley Lamb stopped 28 of 31 shots for his seventh win in the month of February.

After a scoreless first, Brandon Hagel (Buffalo Sabres) opened the scoring with his 12th of the season, but the Broncos received goals from Giorgio Estephan and Matteo Gennaro in the second, then the 52nd goal of the season from Glenn Gawdin (Calgary Flames).

The Rebels had a response though as Pawlenchuk scored twice, followed by the game-winner from Chris Douglas and an insurance goal from Kristian Reichel into the empty net.

Joel Hofer stopped 23 of 27 shots in the loss, his first in regulation since Dec. 30, 2017. Tyler Steenbergen (Arizona Coyotes) had a pair of assists to help him equal his 90-point performance from last season in 25 fewer games.

The win helped the Rebels move four points up on the Kootenay ICE for third in the Central Division. The loss by the Broncos, combined with the Warriors’ victory, pushed Swift Current back down to second in the East Division.

Prince Albert Raiders (5) at Edmonton Oil Kings (4)
Prince Albert (26-25-9-2) // Edmonton (18-35-6-2)

The Prince Albert Raiders improved their playoff odds Saturday, downing the Edmonton Oil Kings by a 5-4 score to sweep their three-game road trip through Alberta Saturday.

Brett Leason had a pair of goals while captain Curtis Miske and Parker Kelly (Ottawa Senators) each had a goal and an assist in the victory.

Down 2-0 to the Oil Kings after 20 minutes on goals from Trey Fix-Wolansky and Conner McDonald, the Raiders roared back in the second period with four goals. Vojtech Budik (Buffalo Sabres), Miske, and a pair of strikes from Leason helped to tie the game up after Wyatt McLeod scored his first career WHL goal as well as David Kope’s 11th of the campaign.

After a high-scoring second period, the third was tame by comparison, with just a single goal from Kelly counting in the period, proving to be the game-winner.

Ian Scott (Toronto Maple Leafs) stopped 25 of 29 shots in the victory. Josh Dechaine stopped 26 of 31 in the loss.

Fix-Wolansky finished with three points, adding a pair of assists, while Kope had a helper for the multi-point effort. Matthew Robertson and Kobe Mohr also added assists in the game.

It was a game that belonged to the Raiders though, with Regan Nagy and Kody McDonald each picking up a pair of assists. Brayden Pachal and Justin Nachbaur also had assists for the Raiders. The game was the 200th of Kelly’s WHL career. Miske himself is now one game shy of 250 for his WHL career.

The win helped the Raiders move within two points of the Saskatoon Blades for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with both having 10 games remaining.

Everett Silvertips (2) at Seattle Thunderbirds (1)
Everett (41-17-2-3) // Seattle (28-24-7-2)

For the second time in as many nights, the Everett Silvertips found a way to grind out a one-goal victory.

Nolan Volcan opened the scoring in the first, but the Silvertips responded with goals from Connor Dewar and Garrett Pilon (Washington Capitals) while Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) stopped 23 of 24 shots for win 26 on the season.

Patrick Bajkov and Matt Fonteyne had assists on Dewar’s goal in the second period while Dewar had the lone assist on Pilon’s game-winner for the multi-point effort. Liam Hughes stopped 37 of 39 shots in the defeat.

The win moved the Silvertips up 11 points on the Portland Winterhawks at the moment. The loss was Seattle’s fourth in a row, keeping them in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with 65 points.

Noah Philp and Donovan Neuls had the assists on Volcan’s first period goal.

Kamloops Blazers (5) at Kelowna Rockets (6)
Kamloops (27-31-1-4)  // Kelowna (38-18-4-2)

For the second straight game, a late goal lifted the Kelowna Rockets to victory.

The only difference between the two games was the clinched playoff spot that came with the win Saturday night.

Leif Mattson’s second goal of the game with 2:13 to go lifted the Rockets to their 38th victory of the season while Dillon Dube (Calgary Flames) added a pair of goals and an assist.

Dube’s two goals featured in the first period while Conner Bruggen-Cate notched his 17th of the season to give the Rockets a 3-0 lead early in the second. The Blazers wouldn’t be shutdown in the game though and took charge in the second half of the period with goals from Jermaine Loewen, Luc Smith, Nick Chyzowski, and Nolan Kneen to give the Blazers a one-goal advantage after 40 minutes.

Mattson would help the Rockets tie things up 12:50 into the third, but Orrin Centazzo found the back of the net just 21 seconds later to restore the one-goal lead. The Rockets would prove to be too much though, doing the work to complete the comeback with goals from Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia Flyers) and Mattson’s second of the game later on.

Brodan Slamond stopped 23 of 28 shots to earn the victory. Dylan Ferguson (Vegas Golden Knights) stopped 31 of 37 shots in the loss.

Loewen and Kneen each earned a three-point game after picking up a pair of assists each. Quinn Benjafield added a pair of helpers, as did Kole Lind (Vancouver Canucks) and Gordie Ballhorn for the Rockets.

With the win from the Rockets and the loss by the Royals, Kelowna now enjoys a seven-point lead in the B.C. Division.

Kootenay ICE (3) at Spokane Chiefs (5)
Kootenay (25-36-3-0) // Spokane (35-21-3-2)

The Spokane Chiefs beat a B.C. opponent for a second straight day, downing the Kootenay ICE by a 5-3 score Saturday.

Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton Oilers) had a goal and three points, Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Los Angeles Kings) added three assists while Jake McGrew (San Jose Sharks) and Milos Fafrak each added a goal and an assist.

Friday’s hero, 2018 NHL Draft prospect Ty Smith, scored his 13th goal of the season in the victory.

The ICE and Chiefs traded goals in the first half of the opening period, with Gilian Kohler getting the ICE on the board, but the Chiefs would add a pair of goals from Ethan McIndoe and Yamamoto’s short-handed tally to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission

Colton Veloso brought the ICE to within one early in the second, but Spokane once again responded with a pair of goals, this time from McGrew and Smith. Veloso’s second of the game pulled the ICE within a pair of goals later in the second, but that’s as close as they’d come.

Dawson Weatherill stopped 14 of 17 shots in the victory. Matt Berlin stopped 33 of 38 shots to take the loss.

Riley Woods also added a pair of assists in the contest for Spokane.

The Chiefs remained three points up on the Tri-City Americans for third place in the U.S. Division, remaining three points behind the Portland Winterhawks for second place as well.

Prince George Cougars (1) at Tri-City Americans (6)
Prince George (20-33-4-4) // Tri-City (32-21-7-1)

Juuso Valimaki (Calgary Flames) scored the second hat trick of his WHL career as the Tri-City Americans extended the Prince George Cougars’ rough go through their final game south of the 49th parallel in a 6-1 game.

Jordan Topping, Paycen Bjorklund, and Parker AuCoin had the other goals for the Americans while Anthony Bishop had three assists and the duo of Nolan Yaremko and Isaac Johnson each contributed a pair of assists.

Dylan Coghlan (Vegas Golden Knights), captain Michael Rasmussen (Detroit Red Wings), and Brett Clayton had assists for the Ams in the victory as well.

Ryan Schoettler had the lone goal for Prince George while Joel Lakusta and Vladislav Mikhalchuk had the assists.

The Americans opened the game with five goals in the first period before both teams traded goals in the second.

The six goals were more than enough for Beck Warm, who stopped 19 of 20 shots to earn the victory. Tavin Grant and Isaiah DiLaura split time in net for the Cougars, combining for 24 saves on 30 shots.

With the win, the Americans moved seven points clear of the Seattle Thunderbirds for the first wild card spot in the Western Conference, remaining three points behind the Spokane Chiefs.

Portland Winterhawks (3) at Victoria Royals (2)
Portland (37-20-1-3) // Victoria (35-23-3-2)

The Portland Winterhawks kept pace with the Everett Silvertips in the U.S. Division Saturday, completing a weekend sweep of the Victoria Royals on Vancouver Island to clinch a playoff spot.

Cody Glass (Vegas Golden Knights) scored his 29th goal of the season with 3:04 left in regulation to lift the Winterhawks to their victory Saturday. Kieffer Bellows (New York Islanders) had the other goals for Portland, one in each of the first and second periods.

Glass factored into all three goals Saturday, adding a pair of assists while Dennis Cholowski (Detroit Red Wings) had three points — all assists — in the win.

Noah Gregor (San Jose Sharks) responded with goals 24 and 25 on the season for the Royals. Dante Hannoun had a pair of assists while Tyler Soy (Anaheim Ducks) and Igor Martynov also picked up helpers.

Shane Farkas picked up the win for the second time in as many nights, stopping 21 of 23 shots. Griffen Outhouse stopped 39 of 42 shots, but still took the loss.

With his three-point game, Glass reached 200 for his WHL career. Gregor’s multi-goal game gave him three straight seasons with at least 25 goals.

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