Northwest Division Players to Watch

by Ron White

West Sound Warriors

It’s nice to have an already somewhat-established player pipeline like the one former Butte Cobras, now Warriors head coach Ty Smith has. The latest of five former Butte Cobras has joined the newest WSHL franchise.

Harri Koll amassed 15 goals and 17 assists in 52 games under last season’s Smith-coached Cobras club. The 6'2” 200 pound forward from Estonia averaged nearly a point per game.

Connor Wherrett is also back to play for Smith. The Canton, Michigan native played last season for Butte netting 15 goals and 13 assists in 53 games, averaging half a point per game.

Smith also adds a pair of rookies from Victoria, Canada including 6'1“, 170 pound forward Aaron Walker and goaltender Eathn Gregory.

Jacob Rudloff follows Smith to West Sound for his final season at the junior level; he accumulated 22 goals and 26 assists while averaging 1.14 points per game. Rudloff spent time with the Fresno Monsters and Butte Cobras last season, where he racked up 236 penalty minutes.

Bremerton native Tyler Perry (no, not that one) brings his 6’6”, 225-pound frame to a team looking for size on the back end. The local product spent time in the Rocky Mountain Hockey League before moving back to the west coast.

Another Bremerton native, Alec Johnson brings a skill set that Smith is looking for, having notched 18 goals and 27 assists with the Aspen Leafs and with West Sound 1.0, (NORPAC) Johnson totaled 15 goals and 13 assists during the 2015-16 season.

Caleb Travis comes from the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights of the AYHL where he netted nine goals in 36 games with the Knights organization. 

Vyacheslav Goyev, who also played with Aspen, scored 30 goals and 61 assists in 70 games. The 20-year-old from Krasnodar, Russia should bring a big punch to the Warriors blue line.

Former Butte assistant captain Tyson Liverance joins West Sound up front. The Burford, Ontario native averaged 1.15 points per game including 20 goals and 46 assists with the Cobras. 

Twenty-year-old goaltender Adam Barvik leaves the Czech Republic J20 league for a stint with West Sound. The 6’1” net minder had a 2.95 GAA and a .905 save percentage.

Defenseman Michael Perez plays his 100th game in the WSHL when the 6’0”, 190 pound Fresno, California native takes the ice for the Warriors. Chances are Perez will see a lot of time on the penalty kill. 

Swedish forward Mattias Wikström adds depth to the Warriors scoring chart from the J20 Elite league. The 19-year-old had 15 goals and 16 assists in two seasons with Sundsvall Hockey. Also add Swedish forward Erik Safstrom from the Swedish Elite league where he scored 28 goals and 18 had assists in the past two seasons.

Czech defenseman Ondrej Gabrhelik will be playing for the first time in the United States with West Sound. Gabrhelik adds size at 6’1”, 190 pounds.

Former Vancouver Ranger Bryce Ebert, who plays his final year in juniors, also returns to play for Smith, while Canadian Mark Mannarn brings net presence from the GMHL with 25 goals and 40 assists. He averaged almost a point per game with the North York Renegades.

Idaho IceCats

Even though Idaho has changed its team name, the IceCats return nearly half their roster from the final season of the Jr. Steelheads. Players returning include Swedish forward Jacob Hedencrona, who had 20 goals and 30 assists a year ago.

Idaho’s leading scorer is back. Lance Herning finished fifth in Northwest division scoring with 32 goals and 38 assists. The St. Charles, Illinois product averaged 1.40 points per game.

Hunter Lester will play his fifth season with the reincarnated Cats. The Boise, Idaho native and team leader in points has pocketed 76 goals and 88 assists in 167 games.

Forward Rei Kikuchi starts his second season in McCall. The 20 year old from Hokkaido, Japan finished the season with 20 goals and 32 points in his rookie campaign.

Jack York, a Boise native, played just 29 games last season for Idaho. York made the most of his time with 8 goals and 16 assists.

Matt Kindred will play his second WSHL season with the IceCats. The forward from Garden City, Michigan averaged 1.05 points per game with 34 goals and 27 assists including six power play goals.

Forward Bryan Kaes had his most productive season with Idaho in 2016-17 after joining the team midway through the season. Kaes, a Boise native, scored six goals and had nine assists in 27 games to average half a point per game.

Also signed is defenseman Tristan Phillips who had a goal and six assists last season from the blue line.

Tahoe Icemen

Rebuilding and re-signing is the modus operandi for Mickey Lang’s hockey team and it starts with a big name. Captain Phil Heisse is back. The WSHL Defenseman of the Year nominee was 45th in league scoring with 24 goals and 48 assists. Heisse averaged 1.36 points per game.

Former Vancouver Rangers captain Paul Frys joins the Icemen. Lang says the Portland, Oregon product can create opportunities on the ice and handles the puck well. Frys had a 1.37 points per game average along with 35 goals and 39 assists for the Rangers last season.

The Icemen shored up forward Gabel Longshore, who peaked in the 2017 playoffs, notching a hat trick to help Tahoe defeat Vancouver in the first round. Longshore netted seven goals and nine assists last season.

Garrett Boehm will be playing his third campaign with Tahoe. The 6’0”, 170 pound forward added a career high five goals and two assists in 2016-17.

John Soliday, who finished third in the league with 201 penalty minutes, returns along with Justin Poirier. The Montreal, Quebec product had 202 PIM’s to go along with 15 goals and 18 assists.

Bronx, New York native Nick Davidow is back with the Icemen. The left-handed shooter scored 13 goals and dished 20 assists placing him fourth in team scoring.

Former Icemen goaltender Artur Pavliukov made headlines after he was invited to the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights evaluation camp this summer and now a new prospect may make headlines. Tommy Spero last played in high school but if his numbers hold true, Lake Tahoe may have an answer in net. The Mamaroneck High School grad brandished a 0.96 GAA while compiling a .951 save percentage and posting six shutouts last season. Spero was named the New York State Player of the Year. His 20 career shutouts are a state record.

Maximilian Hasebelbacher is an Austrian net minder who comes from the same Omaha Lancers organization as Heisse. The 6’2” backstop had a 1.68 GAA and a .960 save percentage with the AAA club. 

Defenseman Jackson Oleson, who averaged a half a point per game last season, has been re-signed. The 17-year-old from Stateline, Nevada managed seven goals and 23 assists in 51 games.

Tahoe adds Tanner Turcotte the son of an elite hockey coach, Jeff Turcotte. The elder Turcotte tutored Jonathon Blum, the first California-born-and-trained player to be selected in the opening round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  Blum played five seasons from 2010-2015 with Nashville and Minnesota.

Slovakian center Marek Ondrasky joins the Icemen from the Slovakia 1 U20 league where he had 5 goals and 2 assist in 25 games with MsHKM Zilina.

A pair of forwards from Kiev, Ukraine will make Lake Tahoe their hockey home in 2017-18. Danyil Alekseichuk played the final 17 games with Tahoe last season scoring four goals while adding 11 assists.  New forward Artyom Kozienko had 37 goals and 36 assists in three seasons with Bilyy Bars Bila Tserkva.  

Mitch Webb, who was a bucket list player for coach Lang, arrives after posting 22 goals and 33 assists for the Grand Rapids Junior Gold in 25 games.

Size is added with the addition of 6’3” defenseman Owen Haas, who played last season with the New Hampshire Avalanche.


Compiled by Steve Casson / Northwest Division Correspondent

Photo courtesy of Marc Mauno