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01/28/2014 6:42 AM -
Continuing the most unpredictable season of WSHL hockey, five of the six three-game series this weekend, most of which were expected to be close, wound up being a clean sweep for one squad.
Below is a summary of each weekend series/game:
El Paso Rhinos (28-2-0, 1st in Midwest Division) @ Dallas Ice Jets (19-10-2, 2nd in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in Grapevine, Texas
The gap between the number one and two teams in the Midwest Division was extended in a big way, as the top-seeded El Paso Rhinos went into Grapevine and took all three games from the Dallas Ice Jets, with experience looking like it played a big role in the sweep.
Similar in skill, the two teams skated to a scoreless opening period on Friday night, before the Rhinos notched two goals in the second and added two more in the third to win by a score of 4-0.
Veteran forward David Nelson got the scoring started at 9:01 of the middle frame and Matthew Plesa added on to it with a goal just 1:55 later.
With neither team giving up many chances in the third, the Rhinos found a way to break through for two more, as defenseman Chris Wilhite notched one while short handed at 10:12, before the newly acquired Krisztian Nagy sealed the deal at 12:58.
Matthew and Peter Plesa each finished the game with two points, as did Chris Wilhite, to lead the Rhinos, while Adam Vay stopped all 27 shots he faced in his second shutout of the season.
Tyler Hough stopped 33 of 37 in net for Dallas and took the loss despite his strong effort.
Things were much tighter in game two, as Dallas put forth a strng effort and had a chance until the very end but El Paso scored the lone third period goal in a 5-4 victory.
The Rhinos got out to a lead in the opening period thanks to the Plesa brothers, as Matthew scored from Peter and Nick at 9:40.
Less than three minutes later however, the Ice Jets responded to knot it up, as Luke Simon put one home from Chris Schutz at 12:15.
With time winding down in the opening frame, the Rhinos were able to take the lead back while on the power play, as Jack Strusz found twine with assists going to Matthew Plesa and Chris Wilhite.
With the Ice Jets on the power play early and often in the second period, it was the Rhinos that turned the tables and scored short handed, twice, to take a 4-1 lead.
David Nelson put one home at 4:22 off a feed from Chad Cesarz and before you could blink, Nick Plesa scored from his brother Peter just 19 seconds later to silence the entire building.
After settling things down, the Ice Jets were able to claw back into the game with three unanswered goals over the remaining 15 minutes of the period.
Recently back from a lengthy stint in the NAHL, Nick Felan scored at 7:56 to get the roll going and just 24 second later, Ondrej Valo pulled the Jets within one.
Continuing to surge, the Ice Jets knotted things up at 16:06 as Alex Criswell lit the lamp to get things even again.
Things really settled down in the third period as both teams began playing mistake-free hockey and waiting for their opportunity to strike.
Just five minutes in, Andrew Bradford scored what would hold up to be the game-winner for El Paso, as the Rhinos won 5-4 in a thriller.
All three of the Plesa brothers and Chad Cesarz had two points to lead the Rhinos, while Adam Vay stopped 25 of 29 in net.
Tyler Hough was once again solid but took the loss anyway, stopping 28 of 33 in the Dallas crease.
Finishing things up on Sunday, the Rhinos used a three-goal second period to complete the sweep in a 5-2 win.
Another short handed goal, this one by Andrew Bradford, got the Rhinos out to a 1-0 lead in the opening frame, which they would hold until Nick Felan knotted things up 58 seconds into period two for Dallas.
The Rhinos then went on their tear, rattling off three straight to take total control of the game, as David Nelson's goal was followed by two more by Matthew Plesa to make it 4-1 El Paso.
After Nick Plesa's power play marker made it 5-1 just about halfway through the third period, the Ice Jets responded late in regulation on an Alex Smith marker but it was too little, too late and they couldn't avoid the sweep.
Cesarz finished the game with three points to lead El Paso, while Adam Vay picked up his third win of the weekend in net, stopping all but two of the 37 shots he faced.
Jordan Salas got the rare start in net for Dallas and took the loss while stopping 16 of 20 before being pulled in favor of Tyler Hough after El Paso got on their roll.
El Paso's experience and ability to rattle off goals in a hurry was the difference in the series, as each game was close for a while but the Rhinos pulled away at pivotal times, scoring timely power play and even short handed goals to kill momentum and gain some for themselves.
They were able to hold the Ice Jets' vaunted power play quiet and frustrate their top scorers, while padding their division lead in the process.
Dallas was there in each game but couldn't execute when they needed too most, as costly breakdowns hurt them badly.
They're still all but locked into the second spot in the division but will need some confidence after this weekend, especially if they should meet the Rhinos in the playoffs.
Colorado Jr. Eagles (16-13-2, 3rd in Mountain Division) @ Phoenix Knights (21-8-2, 1st in Mountain Division)
Three-game series in Chandler, Arizona
Ending a tough slide, in which they had dropped eight straight games, the Phoenix Knights returned to their winning ways over the weekend and had everything working in a three-game sweep of the upstart Colorado Jr. Eagles.
Playing at home, the Knights got back to doing what made them so successful in the first half of the season, as they didn't force anything but instead looked to wear down Colorado over three periods of play, while taking advantage of their opportunities and limiting those for the opposition.
A Robert Smith goal and two from Jordan Cullum got the Knights out to a 3-0 first period lead in the opener on Friday night and they never let Colorado back into the game, skating off with a 6-3 victory.
The Jr. Eagles were able to get back within two goals three separate times, thanks to goals by Luke Galatiuk, Jackson Wallis and Nick Davidson but the Knights responded almost immediately each time, with goals from Shane Fitzpatrick, Kelby Minshull and Trent Boschman in the win.
The captain Minshull finished the game with three points to lead the Knights in scoring, while Max Mahood, Jordan Cullum and Brennan Johnsson each recorded two. Levi Weber's two assists led the Jr. Eagles on the night.
Alex Taylor picked up the win in net, allowing three goals on 30 shots, while Eric Messer, acquired earlier in the week from Tulsa, lost his Jr. Eagles debut, allowing five goals on 32 shots.
The Knights once again used a big first period in game two, as they tallied four first period goals, three of which came off the stick of defenseman Brennan Johnsson, en route to a 7-2 victory.
With the other opening period goal coming via Charlie Allen, the Knights took the 4-0 lead into the second period and extended it to five, as Max Mahood put one home at 13:13.
At 10:28 of the third period, Robert Crisci's goal made it 6-0 in favor of Phoenix and Max Mahood's second of the game, scored just a couple minutes later, made it 7-0.
Two Jackson Wallis goals would give Colorado a little life late in the contest but they were never really in it and took the big loss.
Johnsson's three goals and three Jordan Cullum assists led the Knights in the win, while Alex Taylor was once again solid in net, stopping 20 of the 22 shots he faced.
Quinn Wold was pulled after allowing thee goals on six shots in the Colorado net and his replacement, Tage Rustgi, didn't fare much better, allowing four goals on 32 shots after taking over.
Continuing the trend they had set over the first two games, the Knights used another big first period to carry them to victory in the finale, as four first period goals held up in a 4-2 win.
Brynton MacNab got it started with a goal at 5:55, before Mitch Cobby notched his first in a Phoenix uniform just 1:07 later.
Brennan Johnsson continued a strong weekend for himself with a goal at 8:40 and Robert Crisci's marker extended the lead to 4-0 at 19:03.
Colorado didn't go away however and kept pushing, as Tanner Ulland pulled the Jr. Eagles within three in the second and Levi Weber made it a two-goal game in the third but they wouldn't get any closer.
Alex Taylor picked up the sweep in net, stopping 30 of 32 for his third win in three days, while Eric Messer dropped his second game of the weekend, allowing four goals on 40 shots.
Even though they're still not playing their best hockey, the three wins for Phoenix gets them back on the right track again and got a lot of players in on the action, including Taylor, who seemed to find his groove.
Still atop the division despite the skid, the Knights can get back to doing what they do and play relaxed hockey now, with the monkey off their back.
Colorado didn't play poorly over the three games but dug themselves a hole early in each and don't really have the kind of offense to get into a shootout with a team like the Knights.
They still have a good chance of earning a playoff spot but must keep playing like they have something to prove and with a sense of urgency, like they have been all season.
Cheyenne Stampede (21-12-2, 2nd in Mountain Division) @ Arizona Redhawks (10-20-4, 5th in Mountain Division)
Three-game series in Peoria, Arizona
Not missing a beat, the Cheyenne Stampede continued their tear and kept pace at the top of the Mountain Division with the Knights, as they extended their winning streak to eight by going into the desert and winning all three game against the Arizona Redhawks.
The Redhawks didn't go down without a fight however and certainly made game one on Friday night interesting, as the Stampede needed double overtime to get the job done.
The red-hot Heath Lantz got the visitors out to a 1-0 lead with his goal at 2:53 of the opening frame but Arizona knotted it up in the second on a David Hornak marker.
Tied at one heading into the third, the Stampede again took the lead, this time on a goal from defenseman Filip Oravec but right in stride, Arizona responded four minutes later to tie it on a Chance Taylor tally.
The Redhawks were able to thwart a couple Stampede flurries and force overtime, where neither team was able to find twine during the four-on-four frame.
Heading into the three-on-three period, it took Cheyenne just 32 seconds to win it, as captain Russell Armbruster put one home and lifted the Stampede to a gritty win.
The Stampede outshot the Redhawks 38-25 in the game but Colton Pankiw kept Arizona in it with one of his better goaltending efforts of the season. The British Columbia native was ultimately hit with the overtime loss after allowing three goals. Rasmus Hansson continued his hot streak in net for Cheyenne, as the Swede stopped 23 of 25 in the win.
Chance Taylor gave the Redhawks a 1-0 lead just 56 seconds into game two but the Stampede took over from that point on and surged to a 10-3 win.
Eight different Cheyenne skaters recorded multiple points in the win, with the veterans leading the way again, Thayne Trumbull leading them all with three goals and an assist and newcomer Maans Gustavsson picking up two goals and two assists.
The Stampede outshot Arizona by more than double, 49-20 and scored on four of their six power play opportunities.
Rasmus Hansson was in net once again and stopped 17 of 20 in the win.
Mattias Marten scored two goals in the loss for Arizona, while Colton Pankiw took the loss in net, allowing four goals on four shots and being pulled early in the opening frame.
Arizona turned in a solid effort in the finale and actually came back to outshoot the Stampede but their late comeback wasn't enough, as they fell by a score of 7-5.
A four-goal second period surge helped lift Cheyenne to their eighth straight victory, as Alexander Andersson and Jimmie Kotilainen each notched five points to lead them in scoring.
Arizona's top forward line was once again their offensive juggernaut selves, as Oscar Hagborg Olsson notched four points, while Mattias Marten and David Hornak each collected three.
Sam Mallory got the start in net for Cheyenne and stopped 27 of 32 in the win, while also picking up an assist on a Kotilainen goal. David Deadman didn't fare as well for Arizona, as he allowed seven goals on 26 shots in the loss.
The Stampede continue to play some of their best hockey of the season and kept pace with Phoenix on the weekend, who were also able to pick up a divisional sweep.
They have all parts working and with their size and veteran leadership, they can be a real dangerous team come playoff time, especially if they can hold on to home ice and get the kind of goaltending they have during the streak.
Arizona's once promising playoff chances took another big hit in the sweep and they are now eight points back of fourth place Boulder, with just 12 games left on their schedule.
It can be done and they certainly have the offense to do it but there's a few kinks they need to iron out first and they have a lot of tough games left on the docket.
Tulsa Jr. Oilers (6-26-0, 5th in Midwest Division) @ Ogden Mustangs (24-8-2, 2nd in Northwest Division)
Three-game series in Ogden, Utah
Looking stronger ever time they take the ice, the Ogden Mustangs had their way with the visiting Tulsa Jr. Oilers, as Jake Laime's club showed its killer instinct with 44 goals and three wins on the weekend.
In the strongest offensive weekend in team history, Ogden looked great from the jump on Friday night, scoring 51 seconds into regulation, notching five first period goals and running away with a 16-2 win.
11 different Mustangs skaters enjoyed multi-point games in the win, with Schuyler Seyfert and Simon Teodorsson each notching five.
Recent Worcester State University commit, Tyler Fallica, played just 20 minutes in net and got the win while stopping four of five shots, before being replaced by Niall Quinn for the last 40 minutes of play.
Derek Smith and Hakim Senni each scored goals in the loss for Tulsa, who were playing a few players short and never really had a chance. Colter Pritchard allowed 16 goals on 46 shots in net.
The mighty Mustangs were actually held scoreless in the opening period of game two the next night, as Laime took the opportunity to give some of his depth guys more ice time but Ogden broke out in the second and cruised to a 10-1 victory.
10 Mustangs recorded at least two points on the night, with Sven Johnson and Martin Hallin each picking up three to lead the way.
Connor Webb stopped all five shots he faced in the opening frame but was replaced by Niall Quinn to start the second, who went on to stop 14 of 15 in the win.
Jason Small notched the lone goal for Tulsa, while Teke Murphy allowed 10 goals on 39 shots in the loss in net.
In the finale, an odd game where not a single penalty was called, Ogden put their foot on the pedal and cruised to an 18-2 victory.
Dusty Watt, Simon Teodorsson and Jon Mencer each tallied to make it 3-0 just 1:41 into regulation and the Mustangs never looked back in the big win.
Teodorsson and Brody Decker each finished the game with eight points, while Martin Hallin notched seven.
Niall Quinn got his second win of the weekend in between the pipes, stopping 10 of the 12 shots he faced.
Mike Evans and Devan Beck led Tulsa in the scoring department, with each notching a goal and an assist in the loss. Adam Salisbury stopped 41 of 53 in net, before being pulled in favor of Colter Pritchard late in the contest.
In a series in which they may have had a hiccough in years past and not taken the Jr. Oilers seriously, the Mustangs controlled every minute of every game and picked up six more points in the standings.
They got everyone in on the action, were able to work out some kinks and didn't get anyone in penalty or suspension trouble.
They now hold an eight-point lead over Salt Lake City for the second spot in the Northwest Division, which would mean home ice to start the post-season.
Give Tulsa credit, as playing without a playoff hope and a short bench, they made the long trip and fought hard but they were simply outmatched.
With 11 straight losses, they are just looking to get through the season and try to figure things out over the summer and into next season, with the hope that Marty Magers can help them do that.
Lake Tahoe Blue (19-16-2, 4th in Western Division) @ Seattle Totems (11-18-3, 5th in Northwest Division)
Three-game series in Mountlake Terrace, Washington
Two teams fighting for their playoff lives met in Seattle over the weekend and each improved their playoff chances by picking up points but the Lake Tahoe Blue were eventually just a little bit better, taking two of three games from the host Totems.
A recurring theme over the last few seasons, the goaltending of Bryce Fink gave the Totems a chance to win in game one on Friday night, as the veteran stood on his head and stopped 55 of the 59 shots he faced. It was ultimately not enough however, as Lake Tahoe got the 4-3 win.
Tied up at two after two, thanks to two Frank Flight goals for Seattle and one each from veterans Nick Anderson and Mark DeVaughn for Lake Tahoe, Branislav Kost gave the Blue the lead with his goal at 6:12 of the period.
Seattle didn't go away however and knotted things up much later in the period, as former Bay Area Seal Piers LaFrance struck against his former organization and tied things up at three with 5:05 left before the buzzer.
56 seconds later however, Martin Vachal provided the dagger for the Blue, as the hulking forward put home what would stand up to be the game-winner for Lake Tahoe.
Playing with a full roster for the first time all season, the Blue didn't look as fatigued late in the game and had a lot more scoring depth, with DeVaughn and Edgars Homjakovs' two points leading the way. Troy Turpin picked up the win in net, stopping 38 of the 41 shots he faced.
Seattle was once again led by leading scorer Frank Flight and his two goals, while Fink took the loss despite his heroics in net.
Sergey Kuznetsov and Duncan Long each tallied in the opening period of game two for Seattle and Doug Stultz extended the lead to 3-0 midway through the second.
Lake Tahoe would fight back a couple of times but Kuznetsov's second of the game seemed to put it away late, as the Totems won it 4-2.
Kuznetsov finished the night with three points to lead Seattle, while Fink was once again sensational, stopping 57 of 59 in the win.
Branislav Kost's two points led Lake Tahoe in defeat, with Jakub Novotny allowing four goals on 39 shots in net.
Aftr two tight checking, close hockey games to start the series, game three was quite the opposite, as Lake Tahoe outshot Seattle 62-27 and won going away, 8-3.
Leading 3-2 after the opening 20 minutes of play, the Blue scored four unanswered goals over the second and into the third period to take control of the game and pulled away further in the win.
Veterans Nick Anderson and Martin Vachal each recorded four points to lead the Blue, while Troy Turpin returned to the crease and picked up the win, stopping 24 of 27.
Sergey Kuzentsov finished a strong weekend for himself with one of the three Seattle goals, while Piers LaFrance struck against his former team again. Eli Alyakin and Cody Stein split time in the Seattle crease, with Stein getting tagged with the loss, allowing five goals on 44 shots.
The weekend series wound up being good for both teams, as Lake Tahoe's four points puts them 10 points ahead of fifth place Long Beach, while Seattle moves within two of Missoula and a playoff spot.
Playing with a little more depth now, the Blue are only getting better and will have to finish out strong, especially with a three-game series against Long Beach coming up.
Seattle was able to find some scoring depth behind Flight's line as well but still don't give their goaltenders enough defensive help.
Right on Missoula's heels, if they can figure out a way to make things a little easier on Fink, he may just be able to carry them into the playoffs.
Missoula Maulers (12-18-3, 4th in Northwest Division) @ Valencia Flyers (20-10-3, 3rd in Western Division)
Three-game series in Valencia, California
What Josh Berge has been able to do in his first season at the helm of the Valencia Flyers has been remarkable, as the rookie head coach has taken an inexperienced roster and turned it into a machine and they showed just how good they can be over the weekend, as they busted out the brooms with a sweep of the Missoula Maulers.
Playing against a Missoula team that has been finding a groove as of let and adding some offense to their already stout defense, the Flyers were able to prevail in three close games, while outshooting the visitors in each.
After a scoreless opening period to open the weekend on Friday night, the Flyers struck first in the second, as rookie Zach Paxman, who has been scoring goals in bunches, put one home 2:37 in to get the home team out to a 1-0 lead.
Missoula came right back however and tied things up just about five minutes later while on the power play, as Austin Azzinnaro scored with assists from Corey Schafer and Joey Sundgren.
Late in the evenly played middle frame, the Flyers took the lead back on a goal from captain Austin Ehrlich, with helpers going to Paxman and fellow rookie Jakob Kranabetter.
Austin Azzinnaro's second goal of the game would knot things up for Missoula early in the third but the Flyers controlled the period from there on out and with just 2:20 left in regulation, another rookie, forward Luc Whyte, put one home from Jared Waldman and Sam Taferner to lift the Flyers to victory.
Valencia outshot Missoula 40-31 for the game, with recently acquired goaltender Luke Thompson earning the win in net with 29 saves, while Cody Janzen stopped 37 in the loss for the Maulers.
Zach Paxman and Jakob Kranabetter's two points led the Flyers, while Austin Azzinnaro and Joey Sundgren did the same for Missoula.
Despite outshooting the Maulers 21-6 in the opening period of game two, the Flyers did not have a lead entering the second period, as Jakob Kranabetter got Valencia out to a 1-0 lead but Jordan Wheatly responded late in the period to tie it for Missoula.
Shots and play tightened up over the final two periods and Missoula found a way to generate some scoring chances but the Flyers got a goal in the second from Luc Whyte and another in the third from Jared Waldman and skated off with a 3-1 win.
Waldman's two points led the Flyers in the scoring department, while Mark Becica stopped 22 of 23 in net for the win.
Michael McDaniel allowed three goals on 38 shots in the loss for Missoula.
Things got a little chippy in the finale on Sunday but the Flyers were able to build a 3-0 lead and never looked back in a 6-3 win and series sweep, with each team scoring twice on the power play.
Austin Ehrlich and Blake Aguilar each picked up three points to lead the Flyers, while defenseman Niklas Giers scored twice. Austin Azzinnaro finished a strong individual weekend with two points to lead Missoula.
Luke Thompson stopped 23 of the 26 shots he faced and picked up the win in net, while Cody Janzen took his second loss of the weekend for the Maulers, allowing six goals on 40 shots.
It was once again the rookies getting the job done for Valencia, as 10 different first-year junior players recorded points on the weekend and they never stopped coming at Missoula.
Missoula definitely had the size advantage but it didn't' make any difference to the Flyers, as they have become a real terror to deal with and now sit just six points back of the second-place Ontario Avalanche.
Missoula was able to get off to a great start in 2014, with a sweep of the Phoenix Knights but they've now dropped seven of their last eight games, albeit against tough competition and are hanging on to the fourth spot in the Northwest Division.
Big guns like Corey Schafer and Erich Jaeger were held in check this weekend and their offense wasn't able to get going because of it.
Still playing some of their best hockey of the season, the Maulers will return home for their next six games, which will go a long way in deciding their playoff fate.
Idaho Jr. Steelheads (31-3-1, 1st in Northwest Division) @ Salt Lake City Moose (20-11-2, 3rd in Northwest Division)
Two-game series in West Valley City, Utah
Once an afterthought, the Salt Lake City Moose continued to show how far they've come, as they welcomed in the perennial power Idaho Jr. Steelheads over the weekend and beat the three-time defending Thorne Cup Champions for the first time in team history on Friday night, before dropping the second game on Saturday.
The Moose showed their resiliency on Friday night, as they fought back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime and eventually pick up the win.
Jesper Jensen got the scoring started early in the opening period for the visiting Jr. Steelheads, as the energy-line forward found twine just 2:16 into regulation.
With Idaho still leading 1-0, veteran forward Jan Blasko extended it to 2-0 with his goal at 4:24 of the second period, with assists going to Dak Dice and Nick White.
Still trailing 2-0 entering the third period, the Moose found a groove and began to pick up their play, pulling within one on a Daniel Coley goal off a Hank Parra assist at 2:46, before tying it up late in regulation, as Cole Corson put one home, with helpers from Pat Dwyer and Adam Kresl.
It took Salt Lake City just 1:42 of the first overtime period to complete the comeback, as another veteran, Nick Luitgaarden, scored to give the Moose their first-ever victory over Idaho, with Dwyer again picking up the primary assist and Matthew Morse adding the secondary.
Brian Robertson was strong in net for the Moose, stopping 31 of the 33 shots he faced to pick up the win, while Sean Healy got a rare blemish on his pristine record, taking the overtime loss for Idaho while stopping 28 of 31.
Idaho again jumped out to a 2-0 lead the next night but never allowed the Moose to get even and skated off with a 5-2 victory.
Kyle Williams and Ben Hull tallied 2:31 apart early in the opening period to get Idaho out to the lead, before Daniel Coley pulled Salt Lake City within one at 16:06.
Jan Blasko's second of the weekend and Kyle Williams' second of the game were the only goals for either team in the middle frame, as Idaho took a 4-1 lead into the final period of regulation.
Martin Tolker would make a game of it with his goal at 6:31, which pulled the Moose within two and gave the home team some life but Hunter Lester put it on ice late and scored to give Idaho the 5-2 lead, which they held on to for the win.
Williams finished the game with two goals and Randy Patzner had two assists to lead Idaho in the win, while Sean Healy bounced and stopped 23 of 25 in net to move his record to 23-2-1 on the season.
Ryan Gasparovic took the loss in net for Salt Lake City, as he allowed five goals on 30 shots.
The win for Salt Lake City on Friday night was huge, as it proves they can beat anyone in the league and showcased the many improvements they've worked so hard to make.
They are a deep team that can skate like the wind and are even tougher to deal with on home ice. It will be tough for them to catch Ogden for second place but they'll put up a fight regardless of their seeding come playoff time.
Despite dropping game on in overtime, Idaho was still able to add three points to their league-leading total and are without a doubt still the team to beat in the WSHL.
With just 11 games left in their regular season schedule, they're pretty much locked into the top spot in the Northwest Division but can't get complacent, as teams like Salt Lake City and Ogden are more than formidable opponents.
San Diego Gulls (8-25-3, 6th in Western Division) @ Ontario Avalanche (23-8-3, 2nd in Western Division)
Single game played Friday in Ontario, California
Still fighting hard despite being out of the playoff hunt, the San Diego Gulls took the rival Ontario Avalanche all the way to a shootout on Friday night but ended up falling by a score of 6-5.
It was one of the few times this season that San Diego's goaltending was a bright spot for them, as Erik Eidissen looked strong while stopping 51 of the 56 shots he faced through three periods of regulation and two overtime frames.
Tied at two through four rounds of the shootout however, it was Luke Rendino providing the game-winner for the host Avalanche in round five.
Despite only tallying 27 shots on goal for the night and being outshot in every period, the Gulls took advantage of every chance they had, beating Chris Skeates five times, three of which came on the power play.
In a game that went back and forth all night, Mark Birchall's goal with 2:31 left in regulation forced overtime and Eidissen made some big saves in the two extra periods to carry his team into overtime, before the Gulls eventually fell.
Ontario was led by forward Lubomir Fetkovic and his three points in the victory, while Rendino scored twice, not including his shootout winner.
Veteran forward Eric Baldwin continued a career offensive year for the Gulls and added four assists to his team-leading total in the shootout loss. It should also be noted that Kalvis Ozols, who fractured his skull on a dangerous hit from behind at the All-League Showcase in Las Vegas just over a month ago, returned to action and recorded a goal and an assist while playing regular minutes on Craig Carlyle's blue line.
Eidissen wound up stopping 51 of 56 overall, while Skeates got the win behind a 22-save effort on 27 shots faced.
Playing some of the best hockey in team history, the Avalanche have now won 12 of their last 13 games and have moved within four points back of the first-place Fresno Monsters.
Texas (15-13-2, 3rd in Midwest Division) @ Dallas Snipers (13-15-2, 4th in Midwest Division)
Single game played Saturday in Plano, Texas
The Dallas Snipers used a three-goal second period and perfect 16-save third period from goaltender Emil Eriksson to pick up a huge 3-2 victory over Texas in a single game on Saturday night.
Still struggling with discipline, the Snipers killed off nine of ten Texas power plays on the night and tallied on one of their six chances with the man advantage in the win.
Cole Rose got Texas out to the 1-0 lead with a goal late in the opening frame and Keith Bendall extended it to 2-0 on the power play early in the second but the Snipers took over the period from that point on.
Konstantin Ljubobratets, who has been a force since coming to the team a few weeks back, got the Snipers on the board just 53 seconds after Bendall had made it 2-0.
The Estonian forward then assisted on Trent Williams' power play marker, which tied the game at two at 15:25 of the middle frame and Alexander Lehnbom scored what would hold up at to be the game-winning goal at 17:22, off assists from Emil Melin and Aaron Krominga.
Texas turned up the heat in the third and riddled Emil Eriksson with 16 shots but the Swede stopped every one of them to preserve the one-goal victory.
Eriksson wound up stopping 30 of 32 on the night for his fifth win of the year in net, while Ryan Mulka turned aside 27 of 30 in the loss for Texas.
The win pulls the Snipers within four points of Texas for third place in the division. The two nearby rivals won't meet again until a home-at-home series on February 21 and 22.
Hockey Wolf Three Stars of the Week
1. Simon Teodorsson (Forward, Ogden Mustangs)- The top spot could have gone to a number of different Ogden forwards but in a dominant sweep of the Tulsa Jr. Oilers, none were better than Swedish sniper Simon Teodorsson, who notched 13 points in just two games played over the weekend.
2. Brennan Johnsson (Defenseman, Phoenix Knights)- The Phoenix Knights halted their losing skid in a sweep of the Colorado Jr. Eagles and got a lot of production out of their skilled blue line over the three wins. Brennan Johnsson was the one leading the way, as the Phoenix native notched four goals and two assists.
3. Alexander Andersson (Forward, Cheyenne Stampede)- Keeping pace with the Knights, the Cheyenne Stampede continued their surge and extended their winning streak to eight games with a sweep of the Arizona Redhawks. Playing a big hand in the hot streak, Swedish forward Alexander Andersson picked up three goals and five assists over the three wins and now has points in seven of his last eight games.
Honorable Mentions: Konstantin Ljubobratets (Dallas Snipers), Emil Eriksson (Dallas Snipers), Cole Rose (Texas), Luke Rendino (Ontario Avalanche), Lubomir Fetkovic (Ontario Avalanche), Erik Eidissen (San Diego Gulls), Eric Baldwin (San Diego Gulls), Jan Blasko (Idaho Jr. Steelheads), Pat Dwyer (Salt Lake City Moose), Daniel Coley (Salt Lake City Moose), Jared Waldman (Valencia Flyers), Jakob Kranabetter (Valencia Flyers), Zach Paxman (Valencia Flyers), Luc Whyte (Valencia Flyers), Austin Azzinnaro (Missoula Maulers), Martin Vachal (Lake Tahoe Blue), Nick Anderson (Lake Tahoe Blue), Branislav Kost (Lake Tahoe Blue), Sergey Kuznetsov (Seattle Totems), Bryce Fink (Seattle Totems), Brody Decker (Ogden Mustangs), Martin Hallin (Ogden Mustangs), Schuyler Seyfert (Ogden Mustangs), Devan Beck (Tulsa Jr. Oilers), Oscar Hagborg Olsson (Arizona Redhawks), Chance Taylor (Arizona Redhawks), Jimmie Kotilainen (Cheyenne Stampede), Maans Gustavsson (Cheyenne Stampede), Jackson Wallis (Colorado Jr. Eagles), Jordan Cullum (Phoenix Knights), Alex Taylor (Phoenix Knights), David Nelson (El Paso Rhinos), Chad Cesarz (El Paso Rhinos), Adam Vay (El Paso Rhinos), Matthew Plesa (El Paso Rhinos), Nick Felan (Dallas Ice Jets)