WHL Outlook: December 27


Three Western Hockey League games are on the schedule for this Thursday evening as teams return to action after being on holiday break since December 18.

Ninth-place Moose Jaw faces off against Regina in a 5 p.m. PST matchup, with fourth place Red Deer taking on first place Edmonton an hour later. Finally, the lone Western Conference game of the evening is a 7:05 p.m. PST matchup between the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets, who are separated by six points in the Western Hockey League standings.

GAME #1: Moose Jaw Warriors vs. Regina Pats

• Moose Jaw: 12-17-3-4, 31 pts/36 GP; 89 GF, 114 GA, 4-6-0-0 in last ten games
• Regina: 13-20-2-2, 30 pts/37 GP; 91 GF, 139 GA, 2-7-1-0 in last ten games

- THE LEADERS

Center Sam Fioretti leads the Warriors with 19 goals and 34 points in 36 games, while defenseman Morgan Rielly (who’s currently playing for Team Canada in the World Juniors) leads the team with 21 assists.

Rookie center Brayden Point also has 26 points (8-18) in 36 games this season with Moose Jaw.

Left winger Lane Scheidl leads the Pats in goals (18) and points (40), and is tied for the team lead in assists (22) with fellow left winger Morgan Klimchuk.

- THE GOALTENDERS

Rookie Justin Paulic has won nine of 24 games played this season for Moose Jaw, stopping 570 shots and allowing 62 goals in 1,372 minutes played. HIs GAA is 2.71 and he also has a .902 save percentage.

Matt Hewitt has won eight of 27 games for Regina this season, stopped 856 of 944 shots faced and garnering two shutouts. He’s worked up a 3.44 GAA and .907 save percentage.

- THE MATCHUP

Tonight’s game is the first of a home-and-home series between the Warriors and Pats. Regina won the lone matchup between the teams so far this season, a 4-1 victory on October 3. After meeting Thursday in Regina and Saturday in Moose Jaw, the teams meet five more times: January 30, February 22, March 1, March 2 and March 12.

The teams split last year’s season series, each winning four games.

 

GAME #2: Red Deer Rebels vs. Edmonton Oil Kings

• Red Deer: 21-13-2-1, 45 pts/37 GP; 103 GF, 103 GA, 7-2-1-0 in last ten games
• Edmonton: 23-7-2-3, 51 pts/35 GP; 124 GF, 86 GA, 7-2-0-1 in last ten games

- THE LEADERS

Left winger Turner Elson leads the Rebels with 25 points in 30 games; he also leads the team with 25 assists and is tied for the lead in goals (10) with Tyson Ness.

Edmonton, meanwhile, is led by Michael St. Croix and Dylan Wruck, who have 44 points each this season with the Oil Kings. St. Croix leads the team in goals (19), while Wruck holds the lead in assists (33).

- THE GOALTENDERS

Patrik Bartosak has been Red Deer’s main goaltender this season, carrying a 2.35 GAA and .931 save percentage in 28 games played with the Rebels. He has two shutouts and has won 17 of 28 games, stopped 819 of 880 shots faced.

Edmonton has their main goalie in tow, as Laurent Brossoit was cut from the Canadian junior team – which could be a blessing in disguise for the Oil Kings team. Brossoit has a 2.58 GAA and .904 save percentage and has won 14 of 23 games played, stopped 555 of 614 shots faced.

- THE MATCHUP

The teams met six times last season, with Red Deer winning the first two matchups before Edmonton took the final four games, including three in an eight-day stretch.

Similar to the Regina/Moose Jaw game, tonight’s is the first of consecutive games between the Oil Kings and the Rebels. Edmonton took the lone meeting so far this season, a 6-2 victory on September 23. After the consecutive games on December 27 and 28, the teams meet again on January 17 before returning for another home-and-home on March 15 and 16.

 

GAME #3: Kamloops Blazers vs. Kelowna Rockets

• Kamloops: 25-9-2-2, 54 pts/38 GP; 133 GF, 98 GA, 5-3-1-1 in last ten games
• Kelowna: 23-10-1-1, 48 points/35 GP; 143 GF, 87 GA, 8-2-0-0 in last ten games

- THE LEADERS

Center Colin Smith leads the Blazers across the board, with 25 goals and 37 assists for 62 points in 38 games. He’s also near the top of the team with a plus-24, while the lead in the statistic is held by Sam Grist, who is a plus-26 combined from his time with Kamloops and Tri-City.

Similarly, left winger Myles Bell leads the Rockets in goals, assists and points; the 19-year-old has 48 points (20-28) in 35 games with Kelowna this season. Zach Franko and Dylen McKinlay are also near the top in points for the Rockets squad, while Damon Severson leads the team’s defensemen with 22 points in 34 games.

- THE GOALTENDERS

Cole Cheveldave has been Kamloops’ main goaltender this season, winning 19 of 28 games played and stopped 668 of 736 shots faced. Cheveldave has two shutouts on the season, along with a 2.42 GAA and .908 save percentage.

Jordon Cooke has been Kelowna’s main goaltender this season, but is dealing with a lower-body injury and his status is uncertain. Jackson Whistle was also injured, pushing rookie Jake Morrissey to make his WHL debut on December 16.

- THE MATCHUP

Tonight’s game is the fourth meeting between the teams this season. Kamloops took the first two games by scores of 6-5 (overtime) and 3-2, while Kelowna won 3-0 on November 1. After tonight, the teams meet in Kamloops four times (January 28, February 15, March 3, March 8) and twice in Kelowna (February 16, March 9).

Last season, Kamloops won five of eight meetings against Kelowna.

Tags: Featured Popular Western Hockey League WHL