Arizona Redhawks (1-30-1, 8th in Western Division) @ Fresno Monsters (29-4-1, 1st in Western Division)
Three-game series in Fresno, California
The Fresno Monsters padded their Western Division-best record with a three-game sweep of the last-place Arizona Redhawks.
Parker Olson led the way with three points for Fresno in the opener and Michael Freeman, Kyle Jelinski and Conner Osborne each notched a pair in a 7-1 Monsters win.
Matthew Soldano stopped 14 of 15 in a rare start for him and Cole Andersen turned away 51 of 58 in the Arizona crease.
The Redhawks kept things closer the next night, despite being outshot 60-19 but the Monsters were just too much in a 5-2 win.
Evan Ingram and Mike Nolan each had three points to lead Fresno, while Dan Fitzgerald and Brantt Heble each had two.
Soldano stopped 17 of 19 to earn another win in the Fresno crease, while Andersen allowed five goals on 60 shots for Arizona.
Nolan added four more points to his team-leading total in Saturday's finale, while four other Fresno skaters, including Ingram, had three in an 11-1 Monsters win.
Soldano faced just 11 shots in the Fresno crease and stopped all but one to earn his third win of the weekend, while Andersen was pulled from the Arizona net after allowing six goals in the opening period.
El Paso Rhinos (25-3-0, 1st in Midwest Division) @ Wichita Jr. Thunder (10-20-1, 5th in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in Wichita, Kansas
For the first time in team history, the Wichita Jr. Thunder won a game against the mighty El Paso Rhinos on Friday night. As good teams do however, the defending champs rebounded to take the final two games of the series.
Wichita jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Friday night and never let it go in a shocking 5-2 win.
Four different Jr. Thunder skaters recorded a pair of points in the big win, including Joel Gellvear and Patrik Janac, who each had two goals.
Jake Larson was exceptional in net for Wichita, stopping 47 of 49 in the win, while Adam Vay took the loss for El Paso, allowing five goals on 48 shots.
The Rhinos bounced back the next night and got a 35-save effort from Vay in a 5-0 shutout win.
Sebastian Borg led the way with three assists for the Rhinos, while Gavin Abbott and Vojtech Zemlicka each had two points in the win.
Matej Varchola stopped 34 of 39 in the Wichita crease.
Sunday's finale was a back and forth affair with both teams going on hot streaks and taking the lead.
Rhinos forward Marek Langenhammer would force overtime with his goal 3:14 into the third period and followed it up with the winner 4:19 into the first overtime period in a thrilling 6-5 El Paso victory.
Langenhammer led the Rhinos with three points on the night, while Jack McClelland did the same for Wichita.
Adam Vay earned his second straight win, stopping 37 of 42 in the El Paso crease and Cooper Blaine took the loss for Wichita, allowing six goals on 47 shots.
Las Vegas Storm (14-18-2, 5th in Western Division) @ Ontario Avalanche (18-10-5, 4th in Western Division)
Three-game series in Ontario, California
On the road for the first time since late October, the first-year Las Vegas Storm's losing streak reached 10, as they suffered a sweep at the hands of the host Ontario Avalanche.
Beau Ricketts gave the Storm a 1-0 lead with his goal 5:19 into the opening period on Friday but the Avalanche came back with three straight and went on to win 5-3.
Nick Anderson led the way with four points for the Avs, while Thurel Kast and Michael Thomas each had three.
Chris Skeates stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced in the Ontario crease, while Patrik Jokela stopped 40 of 45 for Las Vegas.
It was all Avalanche the next night, as the home team scored seven second period goals en route to an 11-0 win.
10 Ontario skaters recorded multiple points in the win, led by Zechariah Roberts' five.
Skeates stopped all 25 shots he faced in the shutout win, while Jokela was pulled from the Las Vegas net after allowing five goals.
The finale was much closer but a goal from Anderson with 53 seconds left in regulation lifted the Avs to a 4-3 win and series sweep.
The goal completed the hat trick for Anderson and Daniel Cepila stopped 20 of the 23 shots he faced in net for Ontario.
Jokela was hit with the loss for the third straight game for the Storm.
Butte Cobras (10-21-2, 5th in Northwest Division) @ Idaho Jr. Steelheads (31-0-2, 1st in Northwest Division)
Three-game series in McCall, Idaho
The Butte Cobras fared just about as well as most teams making the trip up to McCall, Idaho have, as they were swept over three games by the league-leading Jr. Steelheads.
15 of the 18 Idaho skaters recorded at least a points on Friday night, as the Jr. Steelheads held the Cobras to just 10 shots on goal and won by a score of 7-1.
Austin Althaus stopped all but one of the 10 shots to earn the win in net, while Tage Rustgi allowed seven goals on 33 shots in the Butte crease.
Anton Zimmer got the Cobras out to an early lead the next night, scoring just 3:25 into regulation but it was all Idaho from that point on, as they came back for eight straight in an 8-1 win.
Macky Power led the way with four points for Idaho, while Althaus allowed one goal on 14 shots.
Rustgi was peppered with 41 shots in the Butte crease and stopped 33 in the loss.
Idaho rattled off five first period goals in the finale and continued on to the sweep in a 9-3 win.
Nikita Zgirskis notched three goals and an assist in the Idaho win, while Althaus stopped 11 of 14 in net.
Zimmer led Butte with a pair of points and Rustgi allowed nine goals on 45 shots.
Phoenix Knights (5-21-3, 7th in Western Division) @ Long Beach Bombers (23-11-0, 2nd in Western Division)
Three-game series in Lakewood, California
The Phoenix Knights playoff hopes took another hit over the weekend, as they were swept on the road by the Long Beach Bombers.
Johan Beatty and Michael Sjolin each notched three points in the opener, as the Bombers beat short-benched Phoenix squad by a score of 5-2.
Tomas Nemeth and Tomas Urbanec each added a pair of points for Long Beach and Dennis Tschudi stopped 30 of 32 in net.
Braden Cooper and Mitch Cobby each notched two points for Phoenix and Luke Stripp stopped 31 of 36 in net.
Sjolin added four more points the next night and Beatty picked up three, as the Bombers won game two by a score of 6-3.
Anton Rhose also notched three points for Long Beach and Kent Nusbaum stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced in net.
Cobby led Phoenix with three points and Colton Pankiw allowed six goals on 53 shots.
The Bombers finished out the weekend with a 7-4 win, behind four points each from Beatty, Nemeth and Sjolin.
Bailey Ketola stopped 26 of the 30 shots he faced in net and Rett Rook took the loss for Phoenix while allowing seven goals on 35 shots.
Ogden Mustangs (23-11-2, 2nd in Mountain Division) @ Casper Coyotes (26-8-2, 1st in Mountain Division)
Two-game series in Casper, Wyoming
The top two teams in the Mountain Division put on a show in Casper but it was the first-place Coyotes retaining their spot at the top with two hard fought wins over the Ogden Mustangs.
Goals from Ilya Bobko and Edvin Johansson gave the Mustangs a 2-0 lead early into the third period but Casper came back to tie it behind two goals from Ville Tikkanen.
After no scoring in the first overtime period, Tikkanen completed his hat-trick in the second, scoring 1:03 into the three-on-three frame to give Casper the win.
Tikkanen led Casper with his three goals, while Schuyler Seyfert led Ogden with a pair of assists.
Alexander Lussier stopped 33 of 35 in the Casper crease and Andreas Pettersson stopped 34 of 37 for Ogden.
Tikkanen added two more points the next night, as the Coyotes pulled away with a three-goal second period and held on for a 4-2 win.
Erik Stenbacka and Viktor Thim each added a pair of points as well for Casper, while Lussier stopped 28 of 30 in net.
Clay Cross and Craig Moore scored in the loss for Ogden and Troy Turpin stopped 31 of 35 in net.
Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers (21-7-0, 2nd in Midwest Division) vs. Tulsa Jr. Oilers (7-20-1, 6th in Midwest Division)
Home-at-home series played Saturday in Oklahoma City and Sunday in Tulsa, Oklahoma
The two teams that call Oklahoma home met for the second straight weekend and once again, it was the Jr. Blazers taking both ends of a home-at-home series from the Tulsa Jr. Oilers.
Jakub Krejci stopped all 24 shots he faced on Saturday night and the Jr. Blazers lit the lamp early and often in a 7-0 win.
Hunter Smith and Dominik Vlk each had three assists to lead OKC, as they chased Tyler Jansen from the Tulsa crease just over midway through the contest.
Things were much more competitive the next day in Tulsa but the Jr. Blazers scored twice late in regulation to earn an 8-6 win.
Matthew Audette notched four points to lead the way, while Vlk and Victor Ekk each had three for OKC.
Casey Neel and former Jr. Blazer Taner Byrd each had three points to lead Tulsa in the loss.
Braden Lajoie stopped 32 of 38 to earn the win in the OKC net, while Colter Pritchard stopped 32 of 39 for Tulsa.
Whitefish Wolverines (12-21-1, 4th in Northwest Division) vs. Missoula Maulers (24-8-1, T-2nd in Northwest Division)
Home-at-home series played Thursday in Missoula and Friday in Whitefish, Montana
The Missoula Maulers remained perfect against their two Montana rivals on the season, as they won both ends of a home-at-home series against the Whitefish Wolverines.
Austin Azzinnaro and Sawyer Jacobson each had a hand in all three Missoula goals on Thursday night and Noah Parker stopped all 27 shots he faced in a 3-0 Maulers win.
Veteran forward Corey Schafer added a pair of points for the Maulers, while Brendan Schultz took the loss in the Whitefish crease.
Playing in Whitefish the next night, the Maulers tallied five first period goals in an 8-1 win.
Six different Missoula skaters recorded three points in the win, including Azzinnaro and Jacobson and Aron Holmgren stopped all but one of the 29 shots he faced in net.
Aleksei Garin notched the lone Wolverines goal in the loss and Schultz was pulled after allowing two goals on five shots.
Cheyenne Stampede (13-17-3, 6th in Mountain Division) @ Colorado RoughRiders (19-15-0, 5th in Mountain Division)
Single game played Friday in Superior, Colorado
Looking to climb back up the Mountain Division standings, the Colorado RoughRiders opened the weekend with an 8-2 win over the rival Cheyenne Stampede.
Devon Pilkington led the way with four points in the big win, while Aidan Doughty added three. Kirill Pustovalov turned aside all but two of the 22 shots he faced in net.
Garrett Hughes tallied both goals in the loss for Cheyenne and Corey Foster was pulled after allowing seven goals over the first two periods.
Cheyenne Stampede @ Colorado Evolution (5-29-0, 7th in Mountain Division)
Single game played Saturday in Denver, Colorado
Playing further south in Denver the next night, Cheyenne earned a 7-2 win over the first-year Evolution.
15 of the 18 Cheyenne skaters recorded at least a point in the win, with Nolan Kinney's two goals leading the way.
Forster stopped 15 of 17 to earn the win in net, while Sergii Pysarenko allowed seven goals on 50 shots in the loss.
Colorado Jr. Eagles (20-8-4, 3rd in Mountain Division) @ Colorado RoughRiders
Single game played Saturday in Superior, Colorado
After taking down the Stampede on Friday, the RoughRiders welcomed in the red-hot Jr. Eagles on Saturday and fell by a score of 3-2.
The Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind goals from MacGregor Haddon and Riley Roberts only to see the RoughRiders twice get back within a goal. They would never get even however, as the Jr. Eagles held on for their 13th win in their last 15 outings.
Haddon finished with two points to lead the Eagles, while Quin Wold stopped 37 of 39 in net.
Pustovalov stopped 24 of 27 for the RoughRiders.
Hockey Wolf Three Stars of the Week
1. Michael Sjolin (Forward, Long Beach Bombers)- One of a number of skilled Swedes on the Long Beach roster, Sjolin went off for two goals and nine assists in weekend sweep of Phoenix Knights.
2. Nick Anderson (Forward, Ontario Avalanche)- A big reason the Ontario Avalanche are heating up, big forward now has points in six straight after amassing 11 in three-game sweep of Las Vegas.
3. Ville Tikkanen (Forward, Casper Coyotes)- Playing his first two games with the team, Tikkanen helped Casper retain first-place in the Mountain Division with huge performance against Ogden. The Finnish forward scored three goals, including the game-winner in overtime on Friday night and added a goal and an assist in Saturday's win.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Nolan (Fresno Monsters), Marek Langenhammer (El Paso Rhinos), Joel Gellvear (Wichita Jr. Thunder), Zechariah Roberts (Ontario Avalanche), Nikita Zgirskis (Idaho Jr. Steelheads), Macky Power (Idaho Jr. Steelheads), Johan Beatty (Long Beach Bombers), Mitch Cobby (Phoenix Knights), Dominik Vlk (Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers), Austin Azzinnaro (Missoula Maulers), Sawyer Jacobson (Missoula Maulers),
Story by Brent Maranto does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Western States Hockey League as a whole
Photo courtesy of Mark Mauno
Brent Maranto is the WSHL Director of Communications
Photo courtesy of Mark Mauno
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