WHL Roundup: Yamamoto notches five points, Ronning tickles twine twice on busy Friday

Larry Brunt/Chris Relke


Red Deer Rebels (3) at Moose Jaw Warriors (1)
Red Deer (15-25-9-3) // Moose Jaw (39-9-1-2)

The goaltending magic continued for the Red Deer Rebels Friday against the league-leading Moose Jaw Warriors Friday as Riley Lamb made 32 saves on 33 shots to help lead the charge in a 3-1 victory.

Chris Douglas opened the scoring in the first period, but Josh Brook answered right back in the second as defenceman Josh Brook (Montreal Canadiens) tallied his second of the season to tie up the game.

In the final period, it would be the Rebels who pulled through as Brandon Hagel (Buffalo Sabres) scored the game-winner midway through the period and Kristian Reichel’s 20th goal of the season came on an empty-netter with less than two minute to go.

Brody Willms had 25 saves in the loss for the Warriors, just their ninth regulation defeat of the 2017-18 season.

Carson Sass, Jacob Herauf, and Brandon Cutler picked up assists for the Rebels. Captain Brett Howden (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Tanner Jeannot drew the helpers on Moose Jaw’s lone goal of the game.

Prince George Cougars (3) at Brandon Wheat Kings (2)
Prince George (19-26-4-4) // Brandon (28-18-3-2)

Ilijah Colina scored his seventh goal of the season with 2:23 to go in the game as the Prince George Cougars came back in the third period to steal two points against the Brandon Wheat Kings Friday.

Evan Weinger scored his 24th of the season to give the Wheat Kings a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes and that lead remained in tact as Colina and Linden McCorrister traded goals.

The Cougars would find a way to break through for the victory in the third, with Jared Bethune evening the game up 7:54 into the period on a short-handed goal, followed 10 minutes later by Colina’s game-winner.

Colina’s effort was the first multi-goal game of his WHL career while Bethune had a goal and two assists for a three-point effort, giving him points in five of his last six games. Rookie forward Ethan Browne recorded a pair of assists for the first multi-point game of his WHL career.

Isaiah DiLaura stopped 28 of 30 shots for the victory while Logan Thompson stopped 29 of 32 shots in the loss.

Saskatoon Blades (2) at Prince Albert Raiders (5)
Saskatoon (25-25-2-1) // Prince Albert (21-20-8-2)

The wild card race in the Eastern Conference grew a lot closer Friday night as the Prince Albert Raiders scored a 5-2 victory against the Saskatoon Blades.

Parker Kelly (Ottawa Senators) scored twice, Cole Fonstad added a goal and an assist, and Jordy Stallard (Winnipeg Jets) added a pair of helpers in the victory. Ian Scott (Toronto Maple Leafs) stopped 19 of 21 shots in the victory.

Kelly’s 22nd and 23rd goals of the season came in the first period to put the home side up by a two, but Logan Christensen’s first of the season cut that lead in half after 20 minutes.

Brett Leason and captain Curtis Miske scored 92 seconds apart in the second period to increase the Raiders’ lead to three, but the Blades came back again with Eric Florchuk deking his way through Prince Albert’s defence for Saskatoon’s second goal of the game.

The Raiders would round out the scoring 1:37 after Florchuk’s goal with Fonstad notching his 16th of the season.

Nolan Maier was busy, facing 39 shots as he finished with 34 saves.

With his two goals, Kelly set a new career-high for goals in a season, improving on his 21-goal performance from last season.

Swift Current Broncos (2) at Lethbridge Hurricanes (5)
Swift Current (36-13-3-1) // Lethbridge (24-21-6-0)

Igor Merezhko and Tate Olson each had a goal and an assist while Brad Morrison and Zane Franklin each added a pair of helpers as the Lethbridge Hurricanes took down the Swift Current Broncos by a 5-2 score Friday.

Logan Flodell stopped 40 shots to outduel his former club while Stuart Skinner (Edmonton Oilers) stopped 31 shots in the loss.

First period goals from Merezhko and Bellerive featured in the first period while Olson and Keltie Jeri-Leon added goals in the second to build up a 4-0 lead after 40 minutes.

Giorgio Estephan would score against his former club and Glenn Gawdin (Calgary Flames) also picked up his 41st goal of the season in the third, but Ty Prefontaine’s fourth of the season put an end to any comeback attempt.

Jeri-Leon continued to shine with his new club, tallying his eighth point (5G-3A) in his 11th game with the Hurricanes.

It was a night of two milestones for Olson. His goal was the 25th of his career and his assist was the 100th of his career as well.

Estephan finished with a goal and an assist in the loss. Tyler Steenbergen (Arizona Coyotes), Colby Sissons (New Jersey Devils), and Jacson Alexander all picked up assists in the loss.

Spokane Chiefs (5) at Kootenay ICE (3)
Spokane (27-19-3-2) // Kootenay (23-25-3-0)

WHL On the Run Player of the Week Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton Oilers) tallied a season-high five points by scoring once and adding four assists, Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Los Angeles Kings) picked up a goal and four points as the Spokane Chiefs won 5-3 on the road against the Kootenay ICE.

The first period featured the ICE taking the lead twice, with the Chiefs coming back to tie the game each time.

First, Peyton Krebs opened the scoring, but 2018 NHL Draft Prospect Ty Smith evened up the scoring less than two minutes later. Martin Bodak put the ICE back up by one near the midway mark of the period, but the Chiefs came back once again on Jake McGrew’s 13th of the season to keep things level after 20 minutes.

In the second, it was the Chiefs taking their first lead of the game as Yamamoto scored his 10th of the season to put his side up 3-2. Colton Veloso would return the favour roughly four minutes later on his 17th of the season to keep the two teams deadlocked heading to the third.

In the final period, it would be Anderson-Dolan scoring 3:55 into the period to put Spokane ahead for good while Luke Toporowski added an empty-net goal to round out the scoring.

Dawson Weatherill finished with 14 saves in the victory. Matt Berlin, facing a familiar team in the Chiefs, stopped 29 of 33 shots while taking the loss.

Smith finished with three points in the contest, giving him the first 50-point campaign of his WHL career. Anderson-Dolan’s four-point game gave him back-to-back 60-point seasons and one the cusp of back-to-back 30-goal campaigns.

Everett Silvertips (3) at Kelowna Rockets (2)
Everett (33-17-1-2) // Kelowna(32-15-3-1)

There’s a new top team in the Western Conference and that has to be enough to make Friday a great day if you’re a Silvertip.

Patrick Bajkov became the all-time leading scorer of the Everett Silvertips and Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) stopped 29 of 31 shots as they defeated the Kelowna Rockets by a 3-2 final Friday in the Okanagan.

Bajkov’s record-break moment came in the final minute of the first, giving the Silvertips the lead after 20 minutes. Connor Dewar would add his 28th goal of the season midway through the second period to double Everett’s lead after 40 minutes. Bryce Kindopp increased the lead to three just before the midway part of the third, but the Kelowna Rockets weren’t going down without a fight.

Just 28 seconds after Kindopp’s goal, Kyle Topping cut the lead back down to two, with Kole Lind (Vancouver Canucks) reaching a milestone of his own with his 200th career WHL point. Late in the game, Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia Flyers) would cut the Silvertips’ lead to one, but it wasn’t enough to change the tide of the game in the Rockets’ favour permanently.

Brodan Salmond stopped 24 shots in the loss.

Hart also picked up an assist for his second career WHL point Friday, placing him a mere 262 points behind Bajkov’s record.

The two teams will complete the home-and-home series Saturday south of the border.

Portland Winterhawks (3) at Tri-City Americans (6)
Portland (30-18-1-3) // Tri-City (27-16-7-0)

With an unprecedented seven first round NHL draft picks playing in Friday’s game, it was the side with the fewer amount coming out on top as the Tri-City Americans doubled up the Portland Winterhawks by a 6-3 final at the Toyota Centre in Kennewick, Wash.

While five of those seven first-round selections found their way onto the scoresheet Friday, it was a pair of younger talents taking the spotlight as Riley Sawchuk and Reece Newkirk each traded a pair of goals for the Americans and Winterhawks respectively.

Jordan Topping and Newkirk traded goals in the first while Skyler McKenzie (Winnipeg Jets) tallied his 39th of the season in the second to put Portland up, but the Ams responded with goals from Sasha Mutala and Isaac Johnson to take a one-goal lead into the third.

With the game tied following Newkirk’s second of the night, the Americans took hold of the game in the final five minutes as Morgan Geekie (Carolina Hurricanes) notched the decisive goal followed by Sawchuk’s pair to provide the insurance goal and an empty-netter.

Kieffer Bellows’ (New York Islanders) assist was his 50th point of the season.

Medicine Hat Tigers (3) at Victoria Royals (4) — OT
Medicine Hat (26-21-7-0) // Victoria (31-18-3-1)

Noah Gregor’s (San Jose Sharks) 75th career WHL goal counted as the game-winner Friday on Vancouver Island as the Victoria Royals knocked off the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers in overtime.

Tyler Soy (Anaheim Ducks) saved the game for the Royals with the game-tying goal late in the third as part of a three-point game that saw him assist on Gregor’s winner. Matthew Phillips (Calgary Flames) and Kade Jensen each added a goal and an assist.

Phillips and Jensen scored in the first period to build an early 2-0 lead, but the Tigers fought back with a pair of goals from James Hamblin, his first of which counted as his 100th career WHL point and a Kristians Rubins goal to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.

It took the Royals nearly the majority of the period to find the equalizing goal, but got it with 1:19 to spare thanks to Soy before going on to win in overtime.

Dean McNabb earned the victory, making 27 saves on 30 shots while Jordan Hollett (Ottawa Senators) stopped 25 of 29 shots in the loss.

Calgary Hitmen (2) at Vancouver Giants (4)
Calgary (15-30-5-1) // Vancouver (27-16-5-3)

The Vancouver Giants’ leading goal scorer this season may not wind up with the most goals in the WHL at the end of the 2017-18 regular season, but he’ll sure be in the Ronning.

Ty Ronning (New York Rangers) scored a pair of goals and Trent Miner stopped 31 shots as the Giants doubled up the Calgary Hitmen to sweep a two-game set in the Lower Mainland Friday night.

Bowen Byram also added a pair of goals for the defenceman’s first career multi-goal game while Brayden Watts added three assists and Matt Barberis also had two helpers.

The Hitmen actually led 2-1 after 20 minutes as Byram’s opening goal was overshadowed in the frame by goals from Luke Coleman and Tristin Nielsen.

All it took to capture the lead though was a 6:43 span in the second period as Ronning scored twice and Byram added the insurance goal, finishing with three points in the game.

Nick Schneider (Calgary Flames) stopped 36 of 40 shots in the loss.

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