Are the thoroughbreds finally off to the races? It certainly looks that way as the Tri-City Americans (16-6-0-0), Vancouver Giants (15-9-0-1), Portland Winterhawks (14-8-1-1) and Kamloops Blazers (14-6-1-0) are starting to pull away from the rest of the Western Conference pack.
While Spokane (10-5-1-2) aren’t too far behind, the teams on the bubble that will most likely be fighting for a spot in the postseason come spring include Victoria, Kelowna and Seattle.
Seattle Thunderbirds (9-11-0-0): They are clinging to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but a strong weekend of back-to-back victories could mean the ‘Birds have found lift-off.
Saturday Seattle blanked first-place Tri-City Americans 3-0 and followed it up with a 6-3 victory over Portland as Burke Gallimore potted a pair in the win.
Victoria Royals (11-12-0-1): The boys from the island have played around .500 hockey all season long, at looks as though they might not change that trend. While this weekend’s 11-3 spanking to the Giants shouldn’t scare Royals fans, the fact that Victoria sits in third in the B.C. Division and sixth in the Western Conference standings with more than 20 games into the campaign means the team with the WHL’s newest address isn’t boasting a Memorial Cup contender just yet.
Calvin Pickard, 17, Seattle Thunderbirds: The stellar netminder had a 90-save weekend, turning away a staggering 43 shots against the Tri-City Americans – the best team in the Western Conference – to give the T-Birds a 3-0 win. The 20-year-old followed it up with a 47-save performance to give Seattle a 6-3 win against Portland on Saturday.
Top 10 Scorers
1. (1) Mark Stone, Brandon Wheat Kings – 22g, 32a – 54 points
2. (2) Emerson Etem, Medicine Hat Tigers – 25g, 22a – 47 points
3. (4) Michael Ferland, Brandon Wheat Kings – 15g, 21a – 36 points
4. (3) Ty Rattie, Portland Winterhawks – 20g, 18a – 38 points
5. (5) Kevin Sundher, Victoria Royals – 14g, 23a – 37 points
6. (7) Brendan Gallagher, Vancouver Giants – 19g, 17a – 36 points
7. (6) Adam Hughesman, Tri-City Americans – 15g, 21a – 36 points
8. (10) Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat Tigers – 23g, 10a – 33 points
9. (NR) Jordan Weal, Regina Pats – 10g, 23a – 33 points
10. (9) Sven Bartschi, Portland Winterhawks – 7g, 26a – 33 points
* Denotes rookie
() Previous week’s ranking