The Medicine Hat Tigers’ Emerson Etem was far and away the storyline of the week 3, as the sniper slotted six goals in three games, including a hat-trick on Saturday night. With Vancouver Canucks prospect and silky smooth passer Kellan Tochkin feeding Etem on a nightly-basis the 1-2 Tigers combination should continue to tear the competition to shreds.
Saskatoon Blades (5-1-0-0), defending WHL champs Kootenay Ice (4-1-0-2), Tri-City Americans (5-2-0-0) and the Kamloops Blazers (4-1-0-0) are currently atop their respective division standings. Of the four, Kamloops is the most surprising on the list considering they were not mentioned in the WHL pre-rankings.
The Blazers who have done a tremendous job keeping the puck out of their net, have played all three netminders Cam Lanigan and rookies Cole Cheveldave and Taran Kozun. Of the three, Cheveldave, last year’s Alberta Junior Hockey League rookie of the year, is the front-runner after a strong start against Everett.
However, the goaltending scenario might be a conversation piece all season long in Kamloops.
On the topic of goaltending scenarios, the struggling Vancouver Giants acquired 20-year-old veteran netminder Adam Morrison on Tuesday from the Saskatoon Blades. The G-men are having a hard time keeping the puck out of their net (31 goals against in 7 games) so coach Don Hay obviously felt he needed to make a change as rookie Jackson Whistle and Brendan Jensen gave up a combined average of 4-goals per game to start the season.
Tri-City Americans (5-2-0-0): Tri-City beat the Portland Winterhawks 4-0 on Sunday, to make it third win in as many tries this season against their U.S. Division Rival.
Kamloops Blazers (4-1-0-0): The Blazers scorched the competition once again, extending their unbeaten streak to four games with victories over Spokane and Everett. While the rest of the B.C. Division are still feeling out the competition, posting topsy-turvy .500 records – Victoria (4-4-0-0), Vancouver (3-3-0-1) and Prince George (3-3-0-1) – the Blazers appear to be the team to beat based on results. It’s still far too early in the season to crown the Blazers top spot, but if they continue to play as well defensively, as they do on offence, Kamloops will remain a tough customer to play against.
Kelowna Rockets: After starting the season 2-0 the Rockets have now dropped their last two games, and are 3-2-0-0 on the year.
Seattle Thunderbirds: But Saturday, goaltender Calvin Pickard made 39 saves as the Thunderbirds nabbed their first victory of the season in a 5-4 squeakier over Victoria. The T-Birds started the season dropping four straight games capped by a 5-0 drubbing to Prince Albert on Friday and with a 1-4-0-0 record they desperately need to get the offence going – Seattle’s scored a league-low 10 goals – if they are to get out of the cellar.
Emerson Etem, 19, Medicine Hat Tigers: the brawny goal scorer enjoyed a monster week on the ice. The Anaheim Ducks first-round pick netted two goals in a 4-2 win against Victoria on Thursday. Then he hammered a hat-trick and added a helper in the rematch against the Royals which saw the Tigers drop a 5-4 contest. Etem capped off the his goal-scoring tear on Saturday by scoring a goal and adding a shootout marker to help the Tigers trump the Giants by a similar 5-4 outcome. He finished with 6 goals in 3 games and leads the WHL with 11 markers in 6 games.
Adam Hughesman, 20, Tri-City Americans: netted a hat-trick in as the Americans blanked rival Portland Winterhawks 4-0. Hughesman’s 16 points (7 goals, 9 assists) is tops in the WHL.
Kevin Sundher, 19, Victoria Royals: The Royals first-line centreman jumped to third in WHL scoring after a terrific weekend. Sundher, a Buffalo Sabres prospect, was in the Thanksgiving mood Friday, dishing four helpers in a 5-4 victory against Medicine Hat. He then added a goal and an assist in a 5-4 loss to Seattle for a total of six points (1 goal, 5 assists) in two games.
Top 10 Scorers
1. Adam Hughesman, Tri-City Americans – 16 points
2. Mark Stone, Brandon Wheat Kings – 16 points
3. Kevin Sundher, Victoria Royals – 15 points
4. Emerson Etem, Medicine Hat Tigers – 12 points
5. *Logan Nelson, Victoria Royals – 12 points
6. Martin Gernat, Edmonton Oil Kings – 12 points
7. Ty Rattie, Portland Winterhawks – 11 points
8. Justin Maylan, Prince Albert Raiders – 11 points
9. Taylor Vause, Swift Current Broncos – 11 points
10. James Henry, Vancouver Giants – 11 points
* Denotes rookie