Diego Gulls (13-22-1, 6th in Western Division) @ Las Vegas Storm
(16-19-2, 5th in Western Division)
Three-game series in Las Vegas, Nevada
It was a battle of two teams clawing to hang on to their respective playoff spots in Las Vegas, as the host Storm and visiting San Diego Gulls went back and forth all weekend.
Thursday's opener needed nine rounds of a shootout
to be decided, as Felix Brunner lifted Las Vegas to a 5-4 win.
Vincent DeKumbis led the Storm with two goals in
regulation, while Nurbek Baltayev had two points for the Gulls.
Patrik Jokela stopped 37 of the 41 shots he faced
during 70 minutes of hockey and turned aside all nine shootout attempts. Joakim Jutras was nearly as good for San Diego, stopping 38 of 42 in regulation and
overtime and eight of nine in the shootout.
San Diego bounced back nicely the next night and
behind three points from Toni Haikrainen, the visitors pulled out a 4-3
Haikarainen had two assets before tallying the game
winning goal with 12 seconds left in regulation, while Artemiy Yaroslavskiy
added a pair of points for the Gulls.
Beau Ricketts, Nikita Larionov and Trevin Morgan
each notched two points in the loss for Las Vegas.
Jutras stopped 33 of 36 to earn the win in net for
San Diego and Jokela turned aside 34 of 38 in the loss.
Sebastian Gruhler got the Gulls out to a 1-0 lead
3:30 into Sunday's finale but the Storm notched the next four en route to a 5-2
DeKumbis and Arrigo Burgener each tallied three
points for the Storm and Jokela stopped 43 of 45 in net.
Jutras finished up a solid weekend by stopping 21
of 25 in the San Diego crease.
Totems (6-29-1, 7th in Northwest Division) @ Southern Oregon
Spartans (27-7-1, 3rd in Northwest Division)
Three-game series in Medford, Oregon
The Southern Oregon Spartans ran their winning
streak to five to begin 2015, with a dominant sweep of the Seattle Totems.
Five different Spartans notched four points in the
opener and Reed Kinsey stopped 16 of the 18 shots he faced in net, as Southern Oregon cruised to a 9-2 win.
Top forwards Doug Gutierrez and Mackenzie Wood led
the pack for the Spartans, while Marek Nemec tallied both Seattle goals in the loss.
Wood tallied five assists the next night and the
Spartans put up double digits in a 10-2 win.
Drew Carriere also had five points, with four goals
and an assist and Johan Lovestrom notched four.
Tymen Edelkoort III stopped all but two of the 25
shots he faced in the Southern Oregon crease, while Anton Vigre allowed eight
goals in two periods before being pulled.
The Totems twice took the lead in the opening
period and Reinis Vitolins second goal of the game tied it up at three early in the second but the Spartans pulled away for an 11-3 victory.
Defenseman Billy Saxton led everyone with five
points on the day, while Wood and Anton Bokull each had four.
Vitolins finished with three points for Seattle and
Erik Danna notched a pair.
Kinsey stopped 37 of 40 to earn the win in net,
while Angus Campbell gave up 11 goals on 48 shots in the loss for Seattle.
Flyers (26-9-1, 2nd in Western Division) @ Phoenix Knights (6-26-3, 7th
in Western Division)
Three-game series in Gilbert, Arizona
Playing just miles from where the Super Bowl was
held, the Valencia Flyers swept the host Phoenix Knights with three more solid
The Flyers scored four first period goals in the
opener, only to see Phoenix come back with four of their own to begin the
The visitors kept on coming however and earned a
Six different Flyers skaters recorded a pair of points in the win, including Adam Papayoanou and the newly-acquired Zach
Robert Crisci and Rasmus Alamaa each notched four
points for Phoenix.
Ole Nilsen stopped 18 of 23 in net for Valencia and
Colton Pankiw 33 of 39 for Phoenix.
After just one goal through the first 40 minutes of
play on Saturday, the two teams combined for six in the third, as the Flyers
pulled out a 5-2 victory.
Kory Medeiros and Jason Hart each notched a pair of
points for Valencia and Silvan Delb stopped 21 of 23 in net.
Alamaa and Charlie Allen also had two points each
for Phoenix and Luke Stripp allowed four goals on 45 shots.
The Flyers took a 2-0 lead in the finale and held
off a couple of Knights comeback bids en route to a 4-2 win.
Hart and Dawson Keay each had two points for
Valencia and Delb stopped 16 of 18 to earn the win in net.
Paso Rhinos (31-3-0, 1st in Midwest Division) @ Tulsa Jr. Oilers (7-26-1,
6th in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Speaking of sweeps, the El Paso Rhinos furthered
strengthened their Midwest Division lead with three big wins over the Tulsa Jr. Oilers.
Ryan Buttazzoni faced just 11 shots for El Paso in
the opener but turned away all of them in a 6-0 Rhinos win.
Martin Hanl, Jiri Pestuka and Sebastian Borg each
notched a pair of points for El Paso, while Teke Murphy stopped 52 of 58 in the Tulsa crease.
El Paso jumped out to a 6-0 lead on Saturday night
and held Tulsa to just 16 shots on goal in a 7-1 win.
Bryton Tomko led the Rhinos with four points, while
Borg and Pestuka each had three.
Buttazzoni stopped 15 of 16 to earn the win in net
and Murphy took the loss while allowing seven goals on 53 shots.
Borg and Pestuka added another four points each on
Sunday and Adam Vay stopped 12 of 13 in net, as the Rhinos won 10-2.
Hunter Best scored twice in the loss for Tulsa.
Jr. Thunder (13-23-1, 5th in Midwest Division) @ Oklahoma City Jr.
Blazers (27-7-0, 2nd in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Just a few miles down the road, the second-place
Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers picked up a weekend sweep of the Wichita Jr. Thunder.
Wichita actually held a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes
of play in the opener but the Jr. Blazers scored the finale three goals in a
Colton Nelson and Kole Hudson each had a pair of
points for OKC and Jakub Krejci stopped 27 of 29 in net.
Matej Varchola faced 35 shots in the Wichita crease
and stopped 31 in the loss.
It was all OKC the next night, as leading scorer
Matt Levene notched a hat trick and Krejci stopped all 33 shots he faced in
net, in an 8-0 Jr. Blazers win.
Matthew Audette and Kirill Romanov also had three
points each for OKC and Victor Ekk added two.
Jake Larson stopped 31 of 39 in the Wichita crease.
The finale was much tighter but as they've done so
often this season, the Jr. Blazers found a way to pull it out, finishing the
sweep with a 5-3 win.
Four skaters, including Audette, had two points for
OKC and Braden Lajoie stopped 36 of 39 in net.
Zach Balodis led Wichita with two points and Larson
stopped 26 of 31 in net.
Tahoe Blue (6-26-2, 6th in Northwest Division @ Whitefish Wolverines
(16-22-1, 4th in Northwest Division)
Three-game series in Whitefish, Montana
The Whitefish Wolverines took two out of three from
the Lake Tahoe Blue over the weekend but with their lone victory, the Blue
actually moved into a playoff spot.
The Wolverines took a 3-0 lead in the opener but
the Blue fought back to tie things up with three of their own.
Tyler Latimer would get the eventual game-winner
and Brett Fernandez iced a 5-3 Whitefish win with an empty-netter.
Fernandez finished with a game-high three points
and Brendan Duff stopped 31 of 34 in net for Whitefish.
Julius Bauermeister and Luke Erickson each had two
points for Lake Tahoe and Nick Bretzger allowed four goals on 53 shots.
Bauermeister notched another five points the next
night, as the Blue pulled out a 6-4 victory.
Hunter Lovdokken added four points for Lake Tahoe
and Michael Cowell stopped 28 of 32 in net.
Bryan Polmear notched three points for Whitefish
and Joakim Hidestrand allowed four goals on 36 shots.
Despite being outshot in the finale, the Wolverines
took a 5-0 lead and never looked back in a 5-1 win.
Kefir Helbing led the way with three points and
Hidestrand stopped 42 of 43 in net.
Kristers Seps scored the lone Lake Tahoe goal and
Cowell allowed five goals on 39 shots in net.
Maulers (29-8-1, 2nd in Northwest Division) vs. Butte Cobras
(10-25-2, 5th in Northwest Division)
Home-and-home series played Friday in Butte and Saturday
in Missoula, Montana
The Missoula Maulers continued their dominance over
the Butte Cobras, beating their in-state rivals by a combined 15-2.
Missoula opened the weekend with an 11-1 victory on
the road, led by Sawyer Jacobson's four goals.
Sam Sevcik notched five assists in the big win,
Corey Schafer added another four points and Noah Parker stopped all but one of
the 28 shots he faced in net.
Justin Irby stopped 42 of 53 in the Butte loss.
Things were closer the next night but Missoula
still outshot Butte 40-20 and won by a score of 4-1.
Jacobson and Sevcik added another two points each
and Aron Holmgren stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced in net.
Tage Rustgi allowed four goals on 40 shots in the
Avalanche (21-11-6, T-3rd in Western Division) vs. Long Beach
Bombers (24-12-0, T-3rd in Western Division)
Home-and-home series played Friday in Ontario and Saturday
in Lakewood, California
In another local rivalry, the Ontario Avalanche and
Long Beach Bombers split their two games over the weekend, with each team winning on the road.
It came down to the wire on Friday night in Ontario
but the Bombers pulled out a 4-3 win thanks to a Patrik Johansson goal in the
fifth round of the shootout.
Johansson notched three assists in regulation and was the only shooter out of ten to score in the shootout. Long Beach netminder Dennis Tschudi stopped 44 of 47 before the shootout and five out of five in the
Antoine Maillard and Zechariah Roberts each had a
pair of points for Ontario and Daniel Cepila stopped 31 of 34 in net.
Chris Skeates stopped all but one of the 39 shots
he faced in the Ontario crease the next night and Roberts scored twice in a 2-1 Avalanche victory.
Anton Rhose scored the lone Long Beach goal and
Tschudi stopped 41 of 43 in net.
Mustangs (24-13-2, T-2nd in Mountain Division) @ Casper Coyotes
(29-8-2, 1st in Mountain Division)
Two-game series in Casper, Wyoming
The Mountain Division leading Casper Coyotes moved
to 7-1-0 against the second place Ogden Mustangs on the season, thanks to two more hard-fought victories.
The Coyotes fell behind 1-0 on Saturday night, as
Alex Forbes gave the Mustangs a 1-0 lead 10:23 into the opening frame but the home team came back with three straight in a 3-1 win.
Eric Anderson, Kasper Elo and Ilya Sakhibgareev
scored for Casper and Alexandre Lussier stopped all but one of the 41 shots he faced in net.
Andreas Pettersson allowed three goals on 28 shots
in the Ogden crease.
Casper never trailed the next night and won 4-2
behind a 36-save effort from Rickard Landfeldt.
Elo led the Coyotes with two points on the day,
while Andreas Zollner and Caleb Pola did the same for Ogden.
Troy Turpin was pulled from the Ogden net after
allowing three goals on 18 shots.
Stampede (14-20-3, 6th in Mountain Division) @ Casper Coyotes
Single game played Friday in Casper, Wyoming
Prior to the two wins over Ogden, the Coyotes
welcomed the Cheyenne Stampede to town and doubled up their in-state rival in a
Eetu Tikkanen notched two goals in the Casper win
and Landfeldt stopped 21 of 24 in net.
Parker Moskal also scored twice for Cheyenne and
Corey Foster allowed six goals on 33 shots.
Stampede @ Colorado RoughRiders (21-15-0, 4th in Mountain Division)
Single game played Saturday in Superior, Colorado
Cheyenne went south the next night and were blanked
8-0 by the Colorado RoughRiders.
Aidan Doughty and former Stampede forward Thayne
Trumbull each had three points for the RoughRiders and Ashton Opperman stopped
all 26 shots he faced in net.
RoughRiders @ Colorado Jr. Eagles (23-10-4, T-2nd in Mountain Division)
Single game played Thursday in Fort Collins, Colorado
The RoughRiders opened the weekend on Thursday
night and pulled out an exciting 2-1 win over the Jr. Eagles.
Casey Riccatone opened the scoring and got the
RoughRiders out to a 1-0 lead early in the opening frame but Scott Smoot tied
things up for the Jr. Eagles in the second.
With 5:28 left in regulation, Greg Dyba tallied his
first goal as RoughRider and it held up as the game-winner.
Opperman stopped 39 of 40 to earn his first win in
a RoughRiders uniform and Quinn Wold took the loss while allowing two goals on 38 shots for the Jr. Eagles.
Evolution (5-31-0, 7th in Mountain Division) vs. Colorado Jr. Eagles
Home-and-home series played Friday in Denver and Saturday
in Fort Collins, Colorado
The Jr. Eagles bounced back nicely after the tough
loss to the RoughRiders and swept a home-and-home series from the Evolution.
The Eagles fell behind 1-0 on the road on Friday
but responded for four straight in a 4-1 win.
Veterans RJ Haenze and Tanner Ulland each tallied
twice for the Eagles and Breandan Colgan stopped 21 of 22 in net.
Kirill Proskurin scored the lone Evolution goal and
Maksims Resetnikovs allowed four goals on 45 shots.
The Jr. Eagles never trailed the next night and
moved into a tie with Ogden for second place with an 8-0 win.
Riley Roberts led the way with four points, while
Ulland and Brad Campbell each had three for the Jr. Eagles.
Colgan stopped all 21 shots he faced to earn his
first shutout of the season.
Three Stars of the Week
Johan Lovestrom (Forward, Southern Oregon Spartans)- Hulking Swede notched two goals and nine assists in sweep of rival
Seattle Totems. Lovestrom now has 36 points in 19 games since coming over in a
trade with Butte.
Sebastian Borg (Forward, El Paso Rhinos)- Another
Swede with a big weekend, Borg scored four goals and added five assists in a
sweep of Tulsa and now leads Rhinos with 59 points on the season.
3. Ashton Opperman (Goaltender, Colorado
RoughRiders)- In his first weekend with the team, Opperman turned aside a
combined 66 shots in victories over the Colorado Jr. Eagles and Cheyenne
Mentions: Vincent DeKumbis (Las Vegas Storm), Mackenzie
Wood (Southern Oregon Spartans), Jiri Pestuka (El Paso Rhinos), Matthew Audette
(Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers), Sawyer Jacobson (Missoula Maulers), Sam Sevcik
(Missoula Maulers), Patrik Johansson (Long Beach Bombers), Jason Hart (Valencia
Flyers), Zechariah Roberts (Ontario Avalanche), Tanner Ulland (Colorado Jr.
Eagles), Julius Bauermeister (Lake Tahoe Blue).
Brent Maranto is the WSHL Director of Communications
Photo courtesy of Mark Mauno
* Disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, and not necessarily the views of JuniorHockey.com. JuniorHockey.com does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.