WHL Tonight: Thunderbirds open weekend set against Royals with convincing win

Jay Wallace/Victoria Royals


A nine-game schedule of Western Hockey League action saw plenty of action in the Eastern Conference and a pair of meetings in British Columbia. The Winnipeg ICE scored another home victory, doing so in overtime against the Regina Pats. The Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets started their East Division road trips with wins by one-goal margins. In the southern parts of Saskatchewan and Alberta, it was the visitors finding success as Red Deer won in Moose Jaw, Everett won in Swift Current, Edmonton won in Calgary and Medicine Hat won in Lethbridge. Over in British Columbia, the visiting sides kept up their strong performances with victories by the Spokane Chiefs over Vancouver and a win by the Seattle Thunderbirds against Victoria. 


Regina Pats at Winnipeg ICE – Scoring & Highlights

Winnipeg ICE captain Peyton Krebs (Vegas Golden Knights) made it two game-winning goals in as many games Friday with a 3-2 overtime win against the Regina Pats.

Goal from Michal Teply (Chicago Blackhawks) and Brad Ginnell had the ICE up by a pair through 40 minutes. The Pats pressed back in the final 85 seconds of the game though, with Riley Krane scoring twice to force overtime where Krebs would eventually strike.

Making his season debut with the ICE, Liam Hughes stopped 23 of 25 shots to earn the victory.


Kamloops Blazers at Brandon Wheat Kings – Scoring & Highlights

Ryan Hughes scored the only goal in the shootout Friday as the Kamloops Blazers began their East Division road trip with a 5-4 victory against the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Goals from Max Martin and Logan Stankoven had the Blazers up 2-0 after 20 minutes, but the Wheaties came roaring back in the second.

Two goals from Jonny Hooker as well as strikes from Cole Reinhardt and 2020 NHL Draft prospect Ridly Greig accounted for a four-goal explosion. It’d leave the teams tied up though as Hughes and Martin Lang also scored in the middle period.

The rest of regulation was tame as neither team scored in the third, then continued that quiet play into the overtime period and through to the shootout.

2020 NHL Draft prospect Dylan Garand turned aside 31 of 35 shots, also keeping the Wheat Kings off the board on all three of their shootout attempts.


Red Deer Rebels at Moose Jaw Warriors – Scoring & Highlights

Tied 3-3 late in the second, the Red Deer Rebels reeled off four unanswered goals Friday night to down the Moose Jaw Warriors by a 7-3 score and sweep a home-and-home set between the two teams.

From the four-goal explosion, Arshdeep Bains scored twice, notching the game-winning goal and then potting an empty-net goal. 2020 NHL Draft prospect Ben King and Rebels’ captain Dawson Barteaux (Dallas Stars) also scored as the Rebels pressed ahead.

Up to that point in the second, Kobe Mohr, captain Owen Hardy, and Cayde Augustine had the goals for Moose Jaw. Josh Tarzwell, Keaton Sorensen, and Dallon Melin struck for the Rebels.

Byron Fancy stopped 18 of 21 shots for the win.


Kelowna Rockets at Prince Albert Raiders – Scoring & Highlights

The new-look Kelowna Rockets started their East Division road trip with a strong result Friday, earning a 2-1 win over the Prince Albert Raiders.

After scoring the deciding goal in the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series at the Art Hauser Centre last month, captain Nolan Foote (Tampa Bay Lightning) notched the game-winning goal in the third period on the power play. Acquired Thursday from the Seattle Thunderbirds, Matthew Wedman (Florida Panthers) picked up his first point in a Kelowna uniform with an assist on Foote’s goal.

Dallon Wilton scored the opening goal of the game for Kelowna while 2020 NHL Draft prospect Ozzy Wiesblatt had the lone goal for the Raiders.

Roman Basran stopped 26 of 27 shots for the victory.


Everett Silvertips at Swift Current Broncos – Scoring & Highlights

A four-point night by captain Bryce Kindopp powered the Everett Silvertips to a 5-1 win against the Swift Current Broncos Friday night in Saskatchewan.

Kindopp’s two goals counted as the game-winning goal and insurance goal in a three-goal first period for the visitors. He also assisted on the opening goal of the game by Cole Fonstad (Montreal Canadiens) and Jake Christiansen’s first goal in his season debut.

Fonstad and Christiansen each finished the game with a goal and three points each. Jaxan Kaluski broke up the shutout bid in the third, but Conrad Mitchell responded with his third of the season to keep the winning margin at four. 2020 NHL Draft prospect Gage Goncalves recorded three assists in the contest.

Keegan Karki stopped 25 of 26 shots for the victory between the pipes.


Edmonton Oil Kings at Calgary Hitmen – Scoring & Highlights

Starting a home-and-home set, the Edmonton Oil Kings claimed a 4-2 road win against the Calgary Hitmen Friday night.

Dylan Guenther’s eighth goal of the season counted as the game-winning goal as four different Oil King skaters scored in the win.

Blake Allan opened the scoring with the only goal of the first, but Edmonton answered back with goals by David Kope, 2020 NHL Draft prospect Jake Neighbours, and Guenther in the middle period.

Hitmen captain Mark Kastelic (Ottawa Senators) brought the home side within a goal late. It’d all be for naught though as an empty-net goal by Jalen Luypen restored the two-goal cushion for the remainder of regulation.

Todd Scott stopped 40 of 42 shots to earn the win.


Medicine Hat Tigers at Lethbridge Hurricanes – Scoring & Highlights

The Medicine Hat Tigers spoiled the party in southern Alberta Friday, beating the Lethbridge Hurricanes in a shootout on their Teddy Bear Toss night.

Oliver Okuliar’s league-leading 22nd goal sent a shower of stuffed animals onto the ice in the first period and Alex Cotton found the back of the net for his eighth goal from the blue line to give Lethbridge the 2-0 lead through 20 minutes.

The second goal of the game from Okuliar featured in the middle period, but the Tigers made their presence known with goals from Cole Sillinger, Cyle McNabb, and Elijah Brown to tie up the game.

From there, the goaltenders stood on their head in the third and through overtime to send things to a shootout yet again between the two teams.

Goals from James Hamblin and Brett Kemp as well as two stops on three Lethbridge opportunities by Garin Bjorklund sealed the victory.


Seattle Thunderbirds at Victoria Royals – Scoring & Highlights

Payton Mount scored twice and Blake Lyda made 35 saves as the Seattle Thunderbirds downed the Victoria Royals by a 4-1 score on Vancouver Island.

Henrik Rybinski (Florida Panthers) had the only goal of the first period. Goals from Mount and Conner Roulette featured in the second before Gary Haden got the Royals on the board late in the middle period. Mount’s second of the night was the only goal of the third period to close out the win.

Keltie Jeri-Leon and Andrej Kukuca each had a pair of assists in the victory.


Spokane Chiefs at Vancouver Giants – Scoring & Highlights

As the Vancouver Giants donned Grinch-themed uniforms, goals were as hard to find as the town of Whoville’s gifts on Christmas morning in a 2-1 win for the Spokane Chiefs.

The three goals in the contest came in the first period as Eli Zummack and Matt Leduc found the back of the net before Tristen Nielsen cut the deficit in half late. From there, it was the goaltenders who were the real Grinches, combining to stop all 39 combined shots through the final 40 minutes.

Campbell Arnold earned the victory, making 30 saves throughout the contest.

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