We’re now past the halfway point of the 2011-12 WHL season and in the midst of the World Junior Hockey Championships the Tri-City Americans pencil themselves in as the team to beat having won ten in a row, owning a league best 29-7-0-0 record.
If the playoffs were to begin tomorrow Everett Silvertips and Prince George Cougars would be the two odd teams out. But as it stands even the lowly ‘Tips are only 10 points behind the 8th seeded Victoria Royals with plenty of time to gain some ground.
The Kamloops Blazers, just 3 points back from top spot in the Western Conference, claim the biggest turnaround as they missed playoffs in 2010-11 and jumped 7 spots up this year’s ranking. Their Okanagan counterpart Kelowna Rockets took the biggest slide from second place a season ago to seventh in the Conference.
Tri-City Americans (29-7-0-0). The Tri-City Americans are the best in the West and are getting it done through goaltending, among other things. They’ve allowed a league-low 2.36 goals per game behind the superb backstopping of 19-year-old Ty Rimmer who leads all netminders with a 2.03 goals-against average and .932 save percentages in 22 games. Rimmer earned WHL Goaltender of the Month for December after a 6-0 record and 1.50 goals-against average. It also helps that the Americans have two players in the Top 1o in WHL points and four in the Top 20.
Victoria Royals (13-23-2-2): The Royals have gone 1-7-1-1 in their last 10 games, including a winless streak of seven that dates back to December 9th. It doesn’t help that Victoria has given up a league high 203 goals against and accumulated a Conference high 717 penalty minutes.
Holiday Puck Warrior:
Michael St. Croix, 18, Edmonton Oil Kings: The Oil King veteran forward is on fire as he’s racked up 10 points in his last 4 games, which includes 6 goals. He’s climbed up the WHL scoring ladder to third with 24 goals and 38 assists for 62 points in 39 games.
Top 10 Scorers:
1. (2) Ty Rattie, Portland Winterhawks – 37g, 31a – 68 points
2. (1) Mark Stone, Brandon Wheat Kings – 27g, 38a – 65 points
3. (9) Michael St. Croix, Edmonton Oil Kings – 24g, 38a – 62 points
4. (3) Emerson Etem, Medicine Hat Tigers – 30g, 31a – 61 points
5. (4) Adam Hughesman, Tri-City Americans – 23g, 37a – 60 points
6. (6) Kevin Sundher, Victoria Royals – 22g, 38a – 60 points
7. (7) Jordan Weal, Regina Pats – 22g, 38a – 60 points
8. (NR) Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City Americans – 20g, 35a – 55 points
9. (5) Sven Bartschi, Portland Winterhawks – 12g, 42a – 54 points
10. (10) Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat Tigers – 31g, 22a – 53 points
* Denotes rookie
() Previous week’s ranking