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WHL Pre-season Recap: Three teams remain perfect through first weekend

Chris Mast/Everett Silvertips

 

Western Hockey League pre-season action is in full swing throughout the league as 16 games took place over the Labour Day weekend.

Through it all, three teams have emerged with perfect records, the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, and Swift Current Broncos.

Hosting a pre-season tournament at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Wash., the Silvertips roared to a 3-2 overtime victory against the Tri-City Americans Friday, a 5-3 win against the Spokane Chiefs Saturday and closed out the weekend with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory in overtime Sunday against the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Ronan Seeley played a big part in both overtime wins. Friday, he drew the primary assist on the game-winning goal by Reece Vitelli. Sunday, he completed the comeback with a goal 78 seconds into the overtime period to lift his team to a perfect weekend. Jake Christiansen and Montreal Canadiens prospect Gianni Fairbrother each led the way offensively with four points each through three games.

Also enjoying a perfect start to their pre-season were the Blazers. Saturday, they opened the offensive floodgates with a 9-1 win over the Victoria Royals and followed it up with a 5-3 win against the Kelowna Rockets Sunday. Logan Stankoven made quite the impression in his first pre-season game with a hat trick and five points against the Royals. The Blazers’ Marwayne connection also made an impact, with Orrin Centazzo posting a pair of goals in a four-point game while Zane Franklin had three assists in his four-point effort.

At the Brandt Centre in Regina, Sask. the Broncos began their pre-season on the right foot with an 8-5 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors as well as a 5-4 shootout win against the Regina Pats. Josh Davies posted a hat trick in Friday’s win against the Warriors, collecting another goal Saturday for a productive weekend. Overage defenceman Jake Kustra posted four points (1G-3A) in Friday’s game to lead the offensive efforts as well.

It was nearly a perfect weekend for the Vancouver Giants and Thunderbirds, who each collected a pair of wins from their three-game experience in Everett.

The Thunderbirds began their weekend by doubling up the Giants by a 4-2 score and earned a nail-biting 4-3 win against the Americans before taking the overtime loss against the Silvertips. Jared Davidson’s third goal of the weekend broke a 3-3 deadlock in the final 20 seconds of Saturday’s contest to top Tri-City. Fellow forward Lucas Ciona led the way among Seattle skaters though with four points (2G-2A) in two games.

For the Giants, Arizona Coyotes goaltending prospect David Tendeck led the way with a 25-save performance in a 2-1 shootout victory against the Chiefs to close out their weekend. The Giants beat the Portland Winterhawks 4-3 in a shootout Saturday for their first pre-season victory.

The Kelowna Rockets, hosts of the 2020 Memorial Cup presented by Kia, opened their pre-season schedule with a 4-0 shutout of the Royals before their road loss to the Blazers Sunday. Alex Swetlikoff had the game-winning goal Friday while Cole Tisdale and Cole Schwebius combined for a 14-save shutout.

Weekend notes

Also claiming their first wins of the WHL pre-season were the Saskatoon Blades, Winterhawks, Americans, and Warriors.

The Blades took down the Pats by an 8-3 score Friday before dropping a 4-3 overtime result to Moose Jaw Saturday. Colton Dach is one of three Blades leading the offensive standings for their team with three points (2G-1A). Spencer Shugrue and Zach Huber were also tied for the team lead in scoring.

In Everett, the Winterhawks began their weekend with a 6-5 regulation win against the Chiefs before taking a pair of losses.

Also in Everett, the Americans collected their first win of the pre-season against the Winterhawks with a 3-2 result Sunday. Colorado Avalanche prospect Sasha Mutala was the star of that game, notching the hat trick to ensure the victory.

Eric Alarie took over the spotlight in the aforementioned 4-3 win against the Blades Saturday. He notched a pair of goals and a pair of assists, capping off his four-point performance with the game-winning goal in overtime.

WHL pre-season action resumes Tuesday, September 3 with the Red Deer Rebels taking on the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Downtown Community Arena in Edmonton, Alta.

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