Chris Mast

WHL recap: Hart and ‘Tips keep on rolling; Wheat Kings and Tigers add to their win totals

Medicine Hat 5 @Prince Albert 4 (SO)

The Medicine Hat Tigers (17-10-1-0) and the Prince Albert Raiders (11-11-5-2) both have an overage sniper leading them offensively this year. Mark Rassell of the Tigers and Jordy Stallard were both at it again on Wednesday night. They both had two goals, but Rassell would lead the Tigers to a 5-4 shootout win by beating Raiders goalie Ian Scott in the circus, while Stallard was not able to do the same to Tigers netminder Jordan Hollett. 

If Prince Albert falls just short of the playoffs, losses like this one, where they missed out on the extra point, will come back to haunt them. P.A. currently holds the last wild card spot in the east, but has by far the most non-regulation losses with seven. No other WHL team has more than four.

Scott stopped 33 of 37 for the Raiders, who have now dropped three straight. Hollett got the win with an astounding 49 stops on 53 attempts.

Ryan Jevne opened the scoring in this one with a marker with 4:38 left in the first. Ryan Chyzowski, while being hauled down swung a backhand pass to Jevne at the back post.

The score would still be 1-0 halfway through the second, when the Raiders tied the game up at one. Stallard took a cross-ice feed from Cole Fonstad and wired a shot past Hollett for his 20th of the year.

Rassell would have the answer for the Tigers, 5:43 later in the frame. He found the rebound of a shot from Linus Nassen, off to Scott’s left and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect for his 26th this year.

Stallard would score his 27th and second of the game to tie the game at two, two minutes later. Fonstad again set this one up as he forced a turnover, that Parker Kelly got over to Stallard for the backhand snipe.

Before the second was over, the Raiders took their first lead of the game. Zack Hayes found Vojtech Budik with some room inside the blue line and the d-man wired a shot off the post and in.

Not to be outdone, the Tiger tied the game up again 3:11 into the third with a goal from one of their own d-man. David Quenneville took a drop pass from Rassell and one-timed a low shot through Scott for his 10th on the season.

The Tigers then took the advantage in this seesaw affair as Rassell twice tracked down a rebound in tight on Scott and finally beat the netminder for his 27th this season.

The Raiders would secure one point by tying the game with 6:58 left in regulation. Austin Crossley’s wrist shot from the point was redirected past Hollett by Eric Pearce, for the Regina native’s second career WHL goal.

In the skills competition, Rassell beat Scott with a shot over his blocker and Max Gerlach ended the game with a shot over Scott’s glove.

The Tigers ended a two-game skid. They will head over to Brandon next and take on the Wheat Kings Friday. Prince Albert hosts the Kamloops Blazers on Friday.

Brandon 7 Regina 4

The Brandon Wheat Kings (20-7-0-1) celebrated the return of Linden McCorrister and Daniel Bukac back into the lineup on Wednesday against the Regina Pats (15-13-2-0), but that would not be the only thing they would be celebrating. They racked up seven goals on the visiting Pats, en route to a 7-4 victory.

Tanner Kaspick had two goals and an assist for Brandon, while Stelio Mattheos had a goal and two assists and Kale Clague and McCorrister chipped in two points apiece as well.

Regina and Brandon traded goals over the first 35 minutes of hockey, but a late goal from Ty Lewis in the second, along with one from Kaspick five minutes into the third, staked them out to a 5-3 lead. After Dawson Davidson narrowed the gap, Mattheos gave them some insurance and Kaspick added an empty netter.

Brandon hosts Medicine Hat Friday, while Regina hosts Kelowna.

Everett 4 Portland 1

It was a match up of two teams trying to get the most out of their star players before they leave for the U-20 World Juniors training camps next week at Xfinity arena in Everett. Carter Hart, who is likely a lock for Team Canada was the best of the bunch as he stopped 28 of 29 and continues his torrid play since returning from an illness in November.

The Everett Silvertips (16-12-1-1) have now won 12 of their last 16 games and six straight, climbing out of the gutter in the Western Conference and looking like contenders. Hart has only allowed nine goals in his last 10 starts.

Patrick Bajkov was all over the ice Wednesday and he continues to be a thorn in the Portland Winterhawks (20-7-0-1) side. He scored twice and added an assist for three points. He now has 45 points in 30 games this year.

Portland, meanwhile has struggled since having their streak of 12 games without a regulation loss ended. They have now dropped three straight. This loss was their first loss to a U.S. Division team since October 29th. Their record within the division is now 9-2, with both losses coming to the Silvertips.

Bajkov opened the scoring after Sean Rcihards smartly stepped in the way of a Cody Glass pass along the half-boards and wired a cross-ice pass over the ‘Tips leading scorer. Portland goalie Cole Kehler was unprepared and Bajkov beat him by shooting the other way.

Jake Christiansen made it 2-0 on the power play 6:13 into the second. He used a good screen by Bryce Kindop-who had to jump out of the way-to beat Kehler on the blocker side.

Matt Fonteyne then added some insurance later in the frame. Off a Keoni Texeira turnover, Bajkov drove the net and drew the defense, before dishing to Fonteyne in the slot. The goal was Fonteyne’s 14th this year.

Then in third, it was Fonteyne drawing the defense on the rush, before slipping a pass to an open Bajkov at the back post.

Portland got one back late as Reece Newkirk drove the net and backhanded a shot off the crossbar and in. It was the first WHL goal for the 16-year-old and it stopped Hart from getting the shutout with only 1:14 remaining in regulation.

Newkirk also got into his first WHL fight earlier in the game sparring with ‘Tips defenseman Gianni Fairbrother.

Kehler was pulled after giving up four goals on 35 shots. Shane Farkas came in and stopped all 10 shots he faced.

Everett will try to keep things rolling as they host the Spokane Chiefs Friday. Portland will look to stop their season-long losing streak Friday at home against Vancouver.

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