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Wrap Up

02/06/2013 11:33 AM -

 

It may have been one of the lighter weekends we’ve seen over the past few months but that didn’t stop a number of teams from dropping and falling, as the playoff picture has really started to take shape across the Western States Hockey League.

Below is a summary of each weekend series/game:

Cheyenne Stampede (21-11-1, 2nd in Mountain Division) @ El Paso Rhinos (29-6-2, 1st in Mountain Division)

The El Paso Rhinos have gotten stronger as the season has gone along and looked as good as ever over the weekend, sweeping three games from the second-place Cheyenne Stampede, further strengthening their grip on the Mountain Division in the process.
 
So much has been said about the powerful Rhinos offense this season but in the three wins over Cheyenne, it was Cory Herman’s defense and goaltending that shined.
 
Trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes of play in the opener, El Paso tightened up on defense and turned up the heat at the other end, scoring three unanswered goals in a 4-2 victory.
 
Andrew Bradford led the way with two goals, while the defense allowed just 17 shots through to goaltender Alex Palumbo, who turned away all but the two early goals.
 
In game two, the Rhinos allowed just 20 shots on net and countered with 52 of their own in a 4-0 victory.
 
Veterans Mikey Rivera and David Nelson each picked up a pair of points in the win, while Palumbo picked up the 20-save shutout in net.
 
The Rhinos special teams was also clicking in the victory, shutting Cheyenne out over eight power play attempts, while notching a power play marker of their own.
 
El Paso saved the best for last and looked dominant in the finale, holding Cheyenne to just 11 shots on goal in a 6-0 win.
 
Rivera picked up three points, defenseman John Ludwig notched two goals and Palumbo picked up his second shutout in as many nights.
 
Over the three physical games, El Paso’s defensive corps allowed just 48 shots to make their way through to the Palumbo, who was good when he had to be.
 
El Paso is now 17 points ahead of Cheyenne for the top spot in the division and is looking far better than they did at this time last year.
 

Wichita Jr. Thunder (7-25-2, 5th in Midwest Division) @ Tulsa Jr. Oilers (10-23-1, 4th in Midwest Division)

Three-game series in Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Wichita Jr. Thunder have been the better of the two first-year Midwest Division franchises nearly all season but the Tulsa Jr. Oilers have come and strong and after a clean sweep this weekend, now sit five points ahead and hold the final playoff spot in the division.

The Jr. Oilers offense was alive in front of the home crowd over the three weekend games and got off to a great start on Friday night, matching a season-high by scoring seven times, in a 7-3 victory.

Leading scorer Bobby Watson, who has carried the offense for most of the season, notched three assists in the opening period alone, to help pace the Jr. Oilers to a 3-0 lead.

After Wichita scored early in the second to get within two, before Tulsa defenseman Andy Howard answered with two of his own and Matt Winkle scored unassisted to complete his hat-trick and extend the lead to 6-1 heading into the third.

After the Jr. Thunder got within three late in regulation, David Morong’s goal sealed the deal in the opening game of what would be a fantastic weekend for Zac Desjardins and company.

Wichita’s offense was far better and the game was much closer on Saturday, as the Jr. Thunder took an early lead thanks to a Martin Wszolek marker.

The Bobby Watson show continued however, as he scored to tie the game before the end of the period, before assisting on a Kyle Messer goal to begin the second to hand Tulsa the lead.

Wichita responded nicely however and turned up the heat, before Jakub Kolarik scored to tie the game, only to be answered 28 seconds later by Matt Winkle for Tulsa, which stood up as the game-winner in a 3-2 victory for the home team.

Looking for the first-ever sweep in franchise history the next day, Tulsa’s offense rose to the challenge once again, pulling away late in a 6-4 win.

Andrii Istominov notched two goals for Wichita and saw his team up 4-3 after 40 minutes of play at the BOK Center, home of the CHL’s Oilers.

It looked like the CHL Oilers that took the ice in the third because Tulsa was on fire, scoring three times in the period in the victory.

With the three wins, Tulsa proved their offense can put the puck in the net and their goaltender can also bail them out when needed. They are now five points free of Wichita with just 10 games to go, including three in Wichita to end the regular season.

Salt Lake City Moose (10-20-3, 5th in Northwest Division) @ Seattle Totems (10-20-7, 4th in Northwest Division)

Three-game series in Mountlake Terrace, Washington

The Salt Lake City Moose have been locked up in the cellar of their division for the entirety of their first two seasons in the WSHL. After taking two of three from the fourth-place Seattle Totems over the weekend, it looks like they could be smelling fresh air in no time.

The Seattle Totems were the road warriors of the league during the first half of the season, spending most of their time away from home ice and although it wasn’t easy on them, the second half of the season is filled with home games, which began last Friday against the Moose.

The two teams, who have both been in search of offense, combined for 116 shots on goal in the opener, as Seattle came from behind to win it 2-1 in overtime on a MacKenzie Crews goal.

The goaltenders were the story of the game however, as Alex Burdekin stopped 67 of the 69 shots he faced in the loss, while Bryce Fink got the win, while turning away 46 of 47.

Zach Zamora gave Seattle the lead about halfway through the opening period the next night, before Salt Lake’s offense awoke to notch four straight and hold on for the 4-2 win.

Jed Howard led the Moose with three assists, while goaltender Talon Miller stopped 36 of 38 in the win.

In the finale, the Moose led 4-0 early in the third, thanks to two goals and an assist from Brandon Luke and Talon Miller sparkled in net once again, as Salt Lake took another 4-2 victory.

The five points are huge for the Moose, putting them just four points out of a playoff spot, with four games in-hand on the Totems, who currently hold the last playoff position in the Northwest Division.

Dallas Snipers (13-19-3, 3rd in Midwest Division) @ Phoenix Knights (14-19-4, 4th in Mountain Division)

Three-game series in Chandler, Arizona

The only non-divisional matchup of the weekend featured two teams with nearly identical records, as the Dallas Snipers traveled to the desert for three with the Phoenix Knights.

Both teams play similar styles and were both in search of offense, in what was one of the tighter series of the weekend.

It wasn’t very tight in the opener however, it was all Knights, as two defenseman led the way in a 5-0 victory.

Kelby Minshull, playing his first game of the season with the Knights after getting injured while playing for the team last year, scored two goals and assisted on another, while veteran Jarrod Levos notched two of his own in the win.

Phoenix outshot Dallas 40-15 and scored on three of their eight power play chances.

The Snipers offense was on the next night in an old west style shootout, as JJ Pitchley notched a hat-trick and four other players enjoyed multi-point games in a 6-4 Snipers victory.

Dallas led 2-1 early in the second period of the finale but the Phoenix offense turned it up late, scoring four straight in a 5-2 victory and big series win.

With New Mexico heating up behind them, the four points for Phoenix are big in the standings and give them a bit of breathing room. Dallas still has a tight hold on a playoff spot but will have to figure out their offensive woes sooner rather than later.

Fresno Monsters (28-9-0, 1st in Pacific Division) @ Ontario Avalanche (18-18-0, 5th in Pacific Division)

Three-game series in Ontario, California

The Pacific Division leading Fresno Monsters haven’t looked like themselves lately, due to injuries and players moving up but seemed to figure things out in two weekend victories over a pesky Ontario Avalanche bunch.

Playing in his first game back from injury, Colin Warner scored 4:20 into the third period to knot the game at two for Ontario.

Fresno didn’t slow down a bit however and got goals from Conner Osborne and Mike Fabie in a 4-2 win.

Things were just as tight the next evening and Ontario became just the third team all season to outshoot the Monsters but Fresno still found a way to pull out a 2-1 win.

Sean Reynolds gave Ontario a 1-0 lead just 13 seconds into the middle period but Carter Dahl responded for the Monsters to tie the game at two just a few minutes later, before Nico Wilton provided the game winner late in regulation.

Ontario’s offense brought the pressure in the finale, outshooting the Monsters for the second-straight night and winning by a score of 2-0, becoming the first team to shutout Fresno in two seasons.

Goaltender Mitchell Privett stopped all 30 shots he faced in the win, while Tyler Sybil provide the game-winner early in the third period for the Avs.

Fresno still picked up four points and are well atop the division but the win for Ontario was big, bumping them up into a playoff position once again.

Idaho Jr. Steelheads (35-1-1, 1st in Northwest Division) @ Ogden Mustangs (16-16-6, 2nd in Northwest Division)

Two-game series in Ogden, Utah

The Idaho Jr. Steelheads continued their reign on the Northwest Division over the weekend, taking both games against the second-place Ogden Mustangs.

Game one was a laugher, as despite the loads of talent they have on the roster, the Mustangs just didn’t show up in a 14-3 loss.

10 different Idaho skaters recorded at least one goal, led by four from Dominik Gabaj, while the Steelies also converted on 10 of 14 power play chances, a league record in the win.

Ogden head coach Jake Laime must have had some nice things to say to his team prior to the second game on Saturday, as the Mustangs looked as they should, like one of the better teams in the league.

After Stefan Brucato scored to pace Idaho to an early 1-0 lead, Ogden responded in the second with goals from Dusty Watt and Schuyler Seyfert to take their first lead of the weekend.

Dak Dice scored for Idaho just a few minutes later to tie the game up at two before the end of the period but once again, the Mustangs scored early in the third to take the lead on an Olle Vennstrom goal.

Midway through the final period of regulation however, Josh Haverstrom converted for Idaho, on the power play yet again, to tie the game and force overtime.

After overtime solved nothing, the two teams went to a shootout where Idaho prevailed on a Dominik Gabaj marker, while former Mustang Daniel Selby stopped all four shooters he faced in the win for Idaho.

Idaho’s top spot has never been more secure, while Ogden has some work to do but are still in a good spot for a playoff run.

 

Three Stars of the Week

1. Bobby Watson (Forward, Tulsa Jr. Oilers)- In the biggest series of the young history of the Tulsa Jr. Oiles franchise, leading-scorer Bobby Watson put the team on his back and led them to their first-ever sweep. The Oklahoma native picked up nine points in three weekend victories over Wichita, moving Tulsa into a good position to make the playoffs.

2. The El Paso Rhinos Defense- The top team in the Mountain Division was exceptional in three weekend wins over Cheyenne, further strengthening their grip on the top spot. The defense of the Rhinos was physical and stout the entire weekend, allowing just 48 shots over the three games, two of which were shutout victories.

3. Jarrod Levos (Defenseman, Phoenix Knights)- The Phoenix Knights’ playoff spot was in jeopardy coming into a weekend series with the Dallas Snipers but two wins and four points later, they’re feeling a lot more secure and defenseman Jarrod Levos was a big part of it. The veteran forward turned defenseman led the team with seven points on the weekend, while playing a ton of ice time in big time situations.

Honorable Mentions: David Morong (TUL), Matt Winkle (TUL), Alex Palumbo (ELP), Mikey Rivera (ELP), Talon Miller (SLC), Brandon Luke (SLC), JJ Pitchley (DLS), Dominik Gabaj (IDA), Josh Haverstrom (IDA), Idaho’s Power Play

 

Three-game series in El Paso, Texas

The El Paso Rhinos have gotten stronger as the season has gone along and looked as good as ever over the weekend, sweeping three games from the second-place Cheyenne Stampede, further strengthening their grip on the Mountain Division in the process.

So much has been said about the powerful Rhinos offense this season but in the three wins over Cheyenne, it was Cory Herman’s defense and goaltending that shined.

Trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes of play in the opener, El Paso tightened up on defense and turned up the heat at the other end, scoring three unanswered goals in a 4-2 victory.

Andrew Bradford led the way with two goals, while the defense allowed just 17 shots through to goaltender Alex Palumbo, who turned away all but the two early goals.

In game two, the Rhinos allowed just 20 shots on net and countered with 52 of their own in a 4-0 victory.

Veterans Mikey Rivera and David Nelson each picked up a pair of points in the win, while Palumbo picked up the 20-save shutout in net.

The Rhinos special teams was also clicking in the victory, shutting Cheyenne out over eight power play attempts, while notching a power play marker of their own.

El Paso saved the best for last and looked dominant in the finale, holding Cheyenne to just 11 shots on goal in a 6-0 win.

Rivera picked up three points, defenseman John Ludwig notched two goals and Palumbo picked up his second shutout in as many nights.

Over the three physical games, El Paso’s defensive corps allowed just 48 shots to make their way through to the Palumbo, who was good when he had to be.

El Paso is now 17 points ahead of Cheyenne for the top spot in the division and is looking far better than they did at this time last year.

 

The El Paso Rhinos have gotten stronger as the season has gone along and looked as good as ever over the weekend, sweeping three games from the second-place Cheyenne Stampede, further strengthening their grip on the Mountain Division in the process.

So much has been said about the powerful Rhinos offense this season but in the three wins over Cheyenne, it was Cory Herman’s defense and goaltending that shined.

Trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes of play in the opener, El Paso tightened up on defense and turned up the heat at the other end, scoring three unanswered goals in a 4-2 victory.

Andrew Bradford led the way with two goals, while the defense allowed just 17 shots through to goaltender Alex Palumbo, who turned away all but the two early goals.

In game two, the Rhinos allowed just 20 shots on net and countered with 52 of their own in a 4-0 victory.

Veterans Mikey Rivera and David Nelson each picked up a pair of points in the win, while Palumbo picked up the 20-save shutout in net.

The Rhinos special teams was also clicking in the victory, shutting Cheyenne out over eight power play attempts, while notching a power play marker of their own.

El Paso saved the best for last and looked dominant in the finale, holding Cheyenne to just 11 shots on goal in a 6-0 win.

Rivera picked up three points, defenseman John Ludwig notched two goals and Palumbo picked up his second shutout in as many nights.

Over the three physical games, El Paso’s defensive corps allowed just 48 shots to make their way through to the Palumbo, who was good when he had to be.

El Paso is now 17 points ahead of Cheyenne for the top spot in the division and is looking far better than they did at this time last year.

 

 

 

Three-game series in El Paso, Texas

The El Paso Rhinos have gotten stronger as the season has gone along and looked as good as ever over the weekend, sweeping three games from the second-place Cheyenne Stampede, further strengthening their grip on the Mountain Division in the process.

So much has been said about the powerful Rhinos offense this season but in the three wins over Cheyenne, it was Cory Herman’s defense and goaltending that shined.

Trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes of play in the opener, El Paso tightened up on defense and turned up the heat at the other end, scoring three unanswered goals in a 4-2 victory.

Andrew Bradford led the way with two goals, while the defense allowed just 17 shots through to goaltender Alex Palumbo, who turned away all but the two early goals.

In game two, the Rhinos allowed just 20 shots on net and countered with 52 of their own in a 4-0 victory.

Veterans Mikey Rivera and David Nelson each picked up a pair of points in the win, while Palumbo picked up the 20-save shutout in net.

The Rhinos special teams was also clicking in the victory, shutting Cheyenne out over eight power play attempts, while notching a power play marker of their own.

El Paso saved the best for last and looked dominant in the finale, holding Cheyenne to just 11 shots on goal in a 6-0 win.

Rivera picked up three points, defenseman John Ludwig notched two goals and Palumbo picked up his second shutout in as many nights.

Over the three physical games, El Paso’s defensive corps allowed just 48 shots to make their way through to the Palumbo, who was good when he had to be.

El Paso is now 17 points ahead of Cheyenne for the top spot in the division and is looking far better than they did at this time last year.