The WHL continues its closing stretch with little movement in the standings but a lot of room for movement in the final weeks.
In the East, the Edmonton Oil Kings have rattled off five straight wins to open up a six point difference between them and the second place Moose Jaw Warriors. The Brandon Wheat Kings meanwhile look like a safe bet to take the last playoff spot, opening up an eight point lead on the ninth place Red Deer Rebels. Seeding within the top eight however is certainly still to be determined with just four points separating fifth from eighth.
In the West, the Portland Winterhawks, Kamloops Blazers, and Tri-City Americans remain in a struggle for top spot. The conference features a much clearer separation of powers with the top three clubs almost 20 points better than the fourth and fifth place Spokane Chiefs and Vancouver Giants, who in turn, are 20-30 points better than the driftwood holding down the final three playoff spots.
After splitting a home-and-home series, the Winterhawks and Americans continue to solve nothing in a divisional battle that is beginning to resemble Batman v Superman. Both teams have been full systems go for a couple weeks now, and each refuses to blink. This battle could very well come right down to the wire.
The Regina Pats had two comeback wins on the week and Jordan Weal had seven assists in those games.
Sven Bartschi scored four goals on Saturday in a 7-3 win for the Winterhawks to permanently kill the joke that the Calgary Flames have no decent prospects.
The Kamloops Blazers have clinched their division but a pair of losses last week to the Kelowna Rockets have seen them stumble in keeping pace with the Winterhawks and Americans for top spot in the conference.
Western Hockey League Weekly Notebook
The Saskatoon Blades picked up a late too-many-men call (sound familar?) in a loss to the Oil Kings that drops the slumping club down to seventh in the East and tougher first round competition.
The Medicine Hat Tigers will make a nice gesture by honouring play-by-play man Bob Ridley this Wednesday. Problem, is this is actually only game 2,998 (rather than 3,000).
The Spokane Chiefs have a rookie centre on their team named Liam Stewart. This is normally not newsworthy but young Liam’s parents are Rachel Hunter and Rod Stewart.
This week, Rod will check out a game of his son’s for the first time this year. Rachel Hunter meanwhile has apparently taken perch with the hockey moms at every game.
Oh, and in case you think Liam has a bit of an ego, know that he chose to stay with a billet family over the swank apartment his mom rented.
WHL Top Scorers
Brandon Wheat Kings
Medicine Hat Tigers
Michael St. Croix
Edmonton Oil Kings
Brandon Wheat Kings
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© Richard Hodges for North West Sports Beat, 2012. |
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