Wichita Jr. Thunder (13-20-1, 5th in Midwest Division) @ Tulsa Jr. Oilers (7-23-1, 6th in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Wichita Jr. Thunder continue to look more and more like a contender and have now earned at least one point in nine of their last 10 outings, after sweeping the Tulsa Jr. Oilers on the road over the weekend.
A Sam Mancini goal at 3:45 of the opening period got Tulsa out to an early lead on Friday night but the Jr. Thunder came back with six straight en route to a 6-3 victory.
Zach Balodis led the way with three helpers, while both Peter Cicmanec and Joel Gellvear notched a pair of points in the win.
Jake Larson stopped 23 of 26 in the Wichita crease and Colter Pritchard was pulled after allowing four goals for Tulsa.
The two teams were knotted at two early in the second period the next night but that was before Wichita erupted for nine straight goals in an 11-2 victory.
10 different Jr. Thunder skaters recorded multiple points in the win, led by Joel Gellvear and his five.
Jake Larson turned aside 28 of the 30 shots he faced to earn the win in net, while Tyler Jansen was pulled from the Tulsa crease after allowing seven goals.
Things were much closer in the finale and the Jr. Oilers jumped out to the early lead for the third straight game.
Wichita would tally four straight however and hold off a late Tulsa comeback bid in a 4-3 win.
Cicmanec notched three points in the win, while Balodis, Gellvear and Jack McClelland each had two for Wichita.
Sam Mancini once again led Tulsa with two goals in the loss.
Matej Varchola stopped 18 of 21 in the Wichita crease and Teke Murphy did well to stop 37 of 41, despite taking the loss for Tulsa.
Springfield Express (18-15-1, 3rd in Midwest Division) @ El Paso Rhinos (28-3-0, 1st in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in El Paso, Texas
The defending champs seem poised to keep the Thorne Cup in El Paso, as the Rhinos padded their Midwest Division lead with a sweep of the Springfield Express.
The Rhinos held Springfield to just 17 shots on goal on Friday night and Adam Vay stopped every one of them in a 5-0 El Paso victory.
Veteran forward Kendal Craig notched two goals to lead the offensive efforts and Sebastian Borg added an assist to his team-leading point total.
Oliver Eklund took the loss in net for the Express, allowing five goals on 33 shots.
The Rhinos won by five again the next night, as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead and cruised to a 7-2 win.
Jiri Pestuka and Patrick Stancl each potted a pair of goals for El Paso and Vay stopped all but two of the 28 shots he faced in net.
Per Eriksson and David Higgs scored the two goals for Springfield and goaltender Philip Babb allowed seven goals on 32 shots.
Keeping the trend alive, the Rhinos won by five on Sunday, finishing the sweep with a 6-1 victory.
Borg and Pestuka each had three points to lead the way in the win and David Barbour netted a pair of goals.
Ryan Buttazzoni got the win in a rare start, stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced, while Eklund allowed six goals on 32 shots in the loss for Springfield.
Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers (24-7-0, 2nd in Midwest Division) @ Dallas Snipers (12-21-4, 4th in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in Plano, Texas
Not far behind the Rhinos are the first-year Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers, who remained perfect in 2015 with a weekend sweep of the Dallas Snipers.
The Jr. Blazers fell behind 3-0, 5-3 and 6-5 in Friday's opener but found a way to fight back each time, before taking the lead for good and continuing on to an 8-6 win.
Matt Levene led the way with a hat trick for OKC, while Kirill Romanov also added three points. Jakub Krejci stopped 28 of the 34 shots he faced to earn the win in net.
Just back from a stint in the NAHL, Trent Williams led Dallas with four points and Sander Berg stopped 26 of 34 in the loss.
Alexander Yunanov gave the Snipers a 1-0 lead early the next night but OKC fired back with four straight goals en route to a 5-2 win.
Romanov led the Jr. Blazers with four goals, including a natural hat trick and Victor Ekk added three assists.
Krejci stopped 18 of 20 to pick up the win in net, while Berg stopped 28 of 32 in the loss for Dallas.
Romanov added two more goals the next day and the Jr. Blazers never trailed in a 5-1 win.
Drake Johnson, Petr Kobes and Alex Smith each added a pair of points for OKC and Krejci finished the sweep by stopping 33 of 34 in net.
Erik Svensson notched the lone goal for the Snipers and Alex Moustakis allowed five goals on 32 shots.
Fresno Monsters (30-6-1, 1st in Western Division) @ Valencia Flyers (23-9-1, 2nd in Western Division)
Three-game series in Valencia, California
Not many teams in the Western Division have been able to keep up with the Fresno Monsters since they entered the league in 2009 but the Valencia Flyers are one of the few exceptions. Playing at home this weekend, the Flyers took two out of three games from the Monsters and further tightened their grip on second place in the process.
Nathan Churchill stopped all 26 shots he faced in the opener and the Monsters cruised to a 5-0 win.
Austin Browning, Gianmarco Guidon and Conner Hyden each had three points to lead the Monsters offensive efforts, while leading scorer Mike Nolan chipped in with two.
Silvan Delb stopped 34 of the 39 shots he faced in the Valencia crease.
Fresno held a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes of play on Saturday night but the Flyers just wouldn't go away and came from behind to win 4-3 thanks to third period goals from Blake Aguilar and Adam Papayoanou.
Papayoanou scored two goals on the night and Ole Nilsen stopped 31 of the 34 shots he faced in net.
Austin Piquette allowed four goals on 22 shots in the loss for Fresno.
Valencia finished out the weekend with another win, scoring three unanswered second period goals in a 5-3 victory.
Jakob Kranabetter led the Flyers with three points in the win, while Niklas Giers, Ray Wilson and Blake Aguilar each had two.
Evan Ingram assisted on all three Fresno goals and Nolan had a goal and an assist.
Nilsen stopped 32 of 35 in net for Valencia, while Churchill took the loss while allowing four goals on 21 shots.
Ontario Avalanche (20-11-5, 4th in Western Division) @ Phoenix Knights (6-23-3, 7th in Western Division)
Three-game series in Gilbert, Arizona
One of the hotter teams in the WSHL in recent weeks, the Ontario Avalanche continued their torrid stretch by taking two of three games from the Phoenix Knights.
Five different Ontario skaters recorded three points on Friday night and the Avs cruised to a 10-2 victory to open the weekend.
Leading the three point group was veteran forward Michael Thomas, who notched a hat trick and Basil Reynolds, who had three assists.
Daniel Cepila stopped 31 of 33 to earn the win in net and Luke Stripp allowed 10 goals on 35 shots in the loss for Phoenix.
Braden Cooper's goal, scored 8:12 into the first period, gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead on Saturday night.
The Avalanche came back to net five goals in the second however and held on for a 5-2 win.
Five different Ontario players, including Thomas, notched two points in the victory and Cepila stopped 22 of 24 in net.
Defenseman Brennan Johnsson assisted on both Phoenix goals and Stripp stopped 48 of 53 in net.
The Knights snapped a six-game losing skid on Sunday, as Brynton MacNab's second period goal held up as the game-winner in a 2-1 victory.
Davis Dryden led the Knights with a goal and an assist on the day and Colton Pankiw stopped all but one of the 44 shots he faced in net.
Thurel Kast notched the lone Ontario goal in the loss and Chris Skeates was pulled after allowing two goals on eight shots.
Arizona Redhawks (2-32-1, 8th in Western Division) @ San Diego Gulls (12-21-0, 6th in Western Division)
Three-game series in Escondido, California
Hanging on to the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Division, the San Diego Gulls earned a victory in two out of their three meetings with the Arizona Redhawks over the weekend.
Ustin Molochkov scored two goals and Joakim Jutras stopped all but one of the 21 shots he faced on Friday night to help lead the Gulls to a 5-1 win.
Sebastian Gruhler, Cameron Todd and the newly acquired Toni Haikarainen also added a pair of points each for San Diego.
Leading scorer Alex Cerda notched the lone goal for Arizona in the loss and Cole Andersen stopped 22 of 27 in net.
Arizona bounced back to pick up its second win of the season on Saturday night, opening the game with four straight goals and holding on to win 4-2.
Cerda, Christoffer Nygren and Uvis Skrebels each notched two points for the Redhawks and Henrik Liljestrand stopped 27 of 29 in net.
Nurbek Baltayev led San Diego with a goal and an assist and Brody Cavataio stopped 22 of 26 in net.
The Gulls showed their depth again on Sunday, getting two points each from Kastle Birch, Will Parker and Felix Morin in a 4-1 win.
Ilya Alyakin stopped all but one of the 28 shtos he faced for San Diego, while Liljestrand allowed four goals on 38 shots in the Arizona crease.
Missoula Maulers (27-8-1, 2nd in Northwest Division @ Lake Tahoe Blue (5-24-2, 7th in Northwest Division)
Three-game series in Lake Tahoe, California
The quiet assassins just keep on finding ways to win hockey games and move up the standings, as the Missoula Maulers picked up a weekend sweep of the Lake Tahoe Blue.
The Maulers notched two goals in each period on Friday night, as the visitors picked up a 6-2 win.
Four different Maulers notched a pair of points on the night, including leading scorer Damon Hanson and Noah Parker stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced in net.
Nick Bretzger was much easier at the other end of the ice for Lake Tahoe and did well to stop 56 of 62 in the loss.
Sawyer Jacobson, Alex Shalamov and Corey Schafer each amassed three points the next night and Aron Holmgren stopped all 21 shots he faced in net, in a 7-0 Missoula win.
Bretzger was peppered with another 65 shots in the Lake Tahoe crease and stopped 57 in the loss.
Continuing the trend, seven different Maulers recorded multiple points in the finale, including Sam Sevcik, who had three and Missoula finished the sweep with a 7-1 win.
Holmgren stopped 31 of 32 to earn the win in net, while Bretzger stopped 49 of 56 for Lake Tahoe.
Seattle Totems (6-26-1, 6th in Northwest Division) @ Idaho Jr. Steelheads (33-1-1, 1st in Northwest Division)
Two-game series in McCall, Idaho
The No. 1 team in the WSHL has still yet to lose in regulation this season, as the Idaho Jr. Steelheads swept quick two-game set from the Seattle Totems.
Dimtris Jones and Ryan Cutter each notched three assists in the opener; as Idaho held Seattle to just 15 shots on goal in a 6-2 win.
Kyle Smith and Kyle Kruenegel each added two points to the Jr. Steelheads and Austin Althaus stopped 13 shots to earn the win in net.
Anton Vigre faced 50 shots in the Seattle crease and stopped 44 in the loss.
The Kyle's were at it again on Saturday for Idaho, as Kruenegel, TenEyck and Williams each had two points in a 6-1 win.
Phil Fromberger led the Jr. Steelheads with three assists in the win and Althaus stopped 12 of 13 in net.
Alek Lazarski allowed six goals on 49 shots for the Totems.
Whitefish Wolverines (14-21-1, 4th in Northwest Division) vs. Butte Cobras (10-23-2, 5th in Northwest Division)
Home-and-home series played Friday in Butte and Saturday in Whitefish, Montana
The battle of the two first-year teams in Montana went to the Wolverines this weekend, as Whitefish won both ends of a home-and-home series against the Butte Cobras.
A PJ Silveria power play goal got Butte out to a 1-0 lead late in the opening period on Friday night but Whitefish got two in the second and held on for a 2-1 win.
Brett Fernandez and Aleksei Garin scored for the Wolverines and Brendan Duff made 21 saves in net.
Tage Rustgi was on his game for Butte despite the loss, making 38 saves on the night.
It was all Wolverines the next night, led by a Garin hat trick, the home team cruised to a 7-0 win.
Fernandez and Bryan Polmear added three points each for Whitefish and Duff stopped all 40 shots he faced in net.
Rustgi took the loss while allowing six goals in just over 50 minutes of play.
Cheyenne Stampede (14-18-3, 6th in Mountain Division) @ Colorado Jr. Eagles (21-9-4, 3rd in Mountain Division)
Home-and-home series played Friday in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Saturday in Fort Collins, Colorado
The final score in the contests between the Cheyenne Stampede and Colorado Jr. Eagles was 5-2 on both Friday and Saturday night and each team skated away with one victory.
Playing in Cheyenne on Friday night, Tanner Ulland scored 1:27 into the third period to tie the game at two for the Jr. Eagles.
The Stampede would score three unanswered goals however and earn the 5-2 win.
Heath Lantz and Nolan Kinney each notched three points for Cheyenne and Corey foster stopped 42 of the 44 shots he faced in net.
Tyrel Charlton scored the other Colorado goal and Quinn Wold allowed three goals on 23 shots.
Cheyenne led 2-1 midway through the second period the next night but Colorado came storming back for four straight to earn a 5-2 win themselves.
Scott Smoot led the way with three points, Ulland added two and Wold stopped 32 of 34 in net for Colorado.
Cody Key had a goal and an assist for Cheyenne and Foster allowed four goals on 35 shots.
Hockey Wolf Three Stars of the Week
1. Kirill Romanov (Forward, Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers)- Smooth Russian returns to three stars list with 10-point weekend (seven goals and three assists) in sweep of Dallas Snipers.
2. Joel Gellvear (Forward, Wichita Jr. Thunder)- Veteran forward amassed four goals and five assists in sweep of Tulsa and now has 16 points in 10 games since returning to Wichita.
3. Sawyer Jacobson (Forward, Missoula Maulers)- Maulers' captain notched five goals and two assists in sweep of Lake Tahoe. Montana native has 13 points over last five outings.
Honorable Mentions: Peter Cicmanec (Wichita Jr. Thunder), Sebastian Borg (El Paso Rhinos), Jiri Pestuka (El Paso Rhinos), Michael Thomas (Ontario Avalanche), Corey Schafer (Missoula Maulers), Nick Bretzger (Lake Tahoe Blue), Aleksei Garin (Whitefish Wolverines), Brendan Duff (Whitefish Wolverines),
Brent Maranto is the WSHL Director of Communications
Photo courtesy of Mark Mauno