WHL recap: Oil Kings unseat Broncos; Wheat Kings, Blazers and Royals win

Brandon 5 Prince Albert 3

The Moose Jaw Warriors, Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos were all anyone was talking about when it came to the East Division of the WHL’s Eastern Conference this preseason. With the start that the Brandon Wheat Kings (6-2-0-1) have rolled out to, maybe they were the league’s most overlooked team. The Wheaties kept their recent run of five-straight win going Saturday night, knocking off the visiting Prince Albert Raiders (3-4-1-0) 5-3 at Westman Place.

Tanner Kaspick led the way for Brandon with three assists, while Stelio Mattheos and Ty Lewis chipped in two points apiece.

Conner Guttenberg was first to the juicy rebound of a Schael Higson shot to start the scoring on the power play, 12:48 in. Just 37 seconds later, Ty Lewis got credit for one of the stranger goals you will see this year. After Lewis was stopped by Prince Albert goalie Curtis Meger on a stuff attempt, Vojtech Budik’s clearance attempt banked off fellow Raider Jordy Stallard’s body and past Meger for the goal.

Making things worse for the Raiders was an Evan Weinger goal with 24 seconds left in the first, to make it 3-0. On a three-on0two rush, Lindon McCorrister found Mattheos and the center dished to Weinger at the back door for his first in a Brandon uniform.

P.A. started a comeback 10:21 into the second on the power play. After a shot from Curtis Miske was blocked, Cole Fonstad swiftly found Stallard at the right face off dot for the one-timer. Stallard netted another power play marker five minutes later to cut the Wheat Kings lead to one. This time he took a dish from Fonstad and skated in, before beating Logan Thompson up high on the glove-hand side. The two goals give him five on the year.

Brandon had a response and it came in the form a highlight reel goal off the stick of Mattheos. He burst into the zone and went backhand, forehand, before burying a shot bar-down in tight on Meger.

Brandon made it 5-2 in the third when Gunnar Wegleitner was first to a puck in front and bangled it home for his fifth of the year. He is having a breakout campaign this year with seven points in his first eight games. This comes after just one goal and zero assists in 55 career games with Victoria and Everett coming into this year.

Cole Fonstad added a goal late to make it a 5-3 final. He was in on all three P.A. goals.

Thompson stopped 25 of 28 for Brandon and Meger turned away 27 of 32.

Both teams get back at it at Westman Place Sunday evening.

Edmonton 4 @Swift Current 3 

There have been no hotter teams to start the WHL season than the Swift Current Broncos (8-1). They rode a dynamite top line and some solid goaltending to a 8-0 start to the year. That roll seemed to be in no mood to stop Saturday night at the Credit Union i-plex. The Broncos held .

Unfortunately for Speedy Creek, their win streak would come to a dramatic end at the hands of Brett Kemp and the Edmonton Oil Kings (4-6).

The 2000-born forward, who was acquired form Everett last ear, cut through the Broncos defense and patiently waited out Swift Current goalie Joel Hofer, before roofing a shot and completing a run of a three-goal third period that doomed the WHL’s last undefeated team.

The Broncos and WHL’s leading scorer Tyler Steenbergen staked his team to a 1-0 lead 13:33 into the contest, Oddly enough it came on his seventh assist (he has 16 goals) and not yet another goal. Steenbergen found Glenn Gawdin in tight and Swift’s captain roofed a shot.

Kemp got his first on the night late in the first frame, on a breakaway to tie the game up.

Steenbergen again set up the go-ahead goal for his team as he drew a defender and the goalie over to him, before dishing to Aleksi Heponiemi at the back post for the goal.

Colby Sissons added his fourth of the year on the power play, staking the potent Broncos to a 3-1 lead going into the final period. Steenbergen drew another assist and now sits alone atop the WHL points list with 25 in nine games.

Edmonton would mount a huge comeback in the third though and it would all get started on the power play as Colton Kehler came out of the corner and found Davis Koch at the back post with 7:06 left in regulation.

Then, with five minutes left, the Oil Kings tied the game up. Kobe Mohr took a shot that found its way past Hofer.

Kemp then delivered the heart-breaking goal with 19 seconds left.

Hofer stopped 31 of 35, while Edmonton’s Travis Child was good for 19 stops on 22 attempts.

Edmonton continues their trek through Saskatchewan with a bout with Regina tomorrow evening. Swift Current does not play until next Friday in Lethbridge.

Blazers 4 @Prince George 1

With so much offense departing Kamloops for the professional ranks, players like Jermaine Loewen, Nick Chyzowski and Luc Smith were expected to step up their production. After struggling out of the gate, all three chipped in goals Saturday night at the CN Centre, helping the Kamloops Blazers (2-9) to 4-1 in and a weekend sweep of the Prince George Cougars (3-5-2).

A night after riding their power play, the Blazers scored all four if their goals at even strength and rode another strong outing by goalie Dylan Ferguson (17 of 18 shots stopped) to a big road win.

Luc Smith opened the scoring just 1:36 in and Kamloops would hold a slim lead until Detroit Red Wings prospect Dennis Cholowski netted his fourth of the year, tying the game up.

Chyzowski scored his third of the year late in the second period and another marker with just three second left in the frame from Ondrej Vala would spell doom for the Cougars.

Connor Zary added a goal with 2:18 left to ice the game.

Taylor Gauthier turned away 30 of 34 in defeat.

The Blazers head to Spokane next Friday to take on the Chiefs while Prince George goes on a trip to Edmonton to battle the Oil Kings that same night.

 

Royals 6 @Thunderbirds 1

The Seattle Thunderbirds (4-3-0-1) have held a recent mastery of the Victoria Royals (8-1-1-0). During the reign of Mathew Barzal, Ethan Bear, Ryan Gropp and Keegan Kolesar, it seemed like the Royals could not buy a win against the Thunderbirds.

The visiting Royals delivered a strong message that they are not to be taken lightly anymore with a 6-1 victory at the ShoWare Center in Kent.

Tyler Soy led the Royals attack with a goal and three assists, while Matthew Phillips added two goals. Griffen Outhouse, who seems to be operating under a pitch count of sorts, stopped 26 of 27, before being pulled with nine minutes left in favor of Dean McNabb. The backup netminder turned away all five shots he faced.

Seattle scored their lone goal just 6:17 into the game. Sami Moilanen forced a turnover and quickly fed Nolan Volcan in the slot. The winger made no mistake, netting his second goal of the year.

The Royals would score twice on the man advantage before the first period ended though, taking a lead they would never relinquish. First, on the power play, Soy faked a shot and fed a cross-ice pass to Phillips for a one-timer. Then, Soy fired another pass across for Phillips and the Calgary Flames prospect would bury his second attempt.

Jared Legien made it 3-1 with a breakaway goal in the second period and Regan Nagy, Soy and Jared Freadrich added goals in the third to put the game away.

Matt Berlin turned away 24 of 30 shots in the loss.

The potent Victoria power play was a big difference as they scored on three of their eight opportunities. Seattle failed to net a goal on three chances.

Seattle does not play again until they host Moose Jaw next Saturday. Victoria heads to Edmonton for a Wednesday match up with the Oil Kings. It will be game three of their current seven-game road trip.

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Brandon Rivers

Longtime Portland Winterhawks' blogger on hodgesheroes.blogspot.com. I also write for SB Nation on the for the Seattle Sin Bin at http://www.sonicsrising.com/seattle-sin-bin. Further, I have a Seattle-sports podcast over at 206sportsjocks.com Originally from the Portland area, now living in Seattle. Proud husband and Father.