WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 01.03.19 – NORTHWEST DIVISION
WSHL standings are expressed W-L-OTW-OTL (“W” and “L” represent regulation wins and losses; shootouts are included in overtime results). Three points are awarded for a regulation win, two for an overtime win and one for an overtime loss.
BELLINGHAM BLAZERS (22-8-0-0, 66 pts.)
Despite losing all three of their games against top competition at the WSHL Showcase, the Bellingham Blazers have to be feeling pretty good about their first-half performance. The Blazers hold a 17-point lead at the top of the Northwest Division despite earning zero of nine possible points in Las Vegas.
At the showcase, the Blazers lost to the Utah Outliers, 8-2, before falling to the Oklahoma City Blazers in a competitive game by a 5-3 final.
In the loss to Oklahoma City, Bellingham trailed 4-1 before getting back within a goal with 2:52 to go in the game. OKC sealed the win with an empty-net goal with just 1.6 seconds left on the clock.
The Blazers offense had a quiet day in the team’s third and final game in Vegas. Bellingham managed just 19 shots in a 4-0 shutout loss to the El Paso Rhinos to cap off their games at the event.
Bellingham has an exciting series on tap this weekend in Fresno against the Monsters. The three-game set, which kicks off on Thursday night, will be played at Selland Arena, a 7,600-seat venue located in the heart of downtown Fresno.
Looking ahead, the Blazers have dominated Northwest Division opponents this season outside of a four-game losing streak to Seattle.
Bellingham’s biggest test in the second half of the regular season is likely to be the Long Beach Bombers, who the Blazers will host in a two-game series on March 2-3. The Bombers lead the Western Division, and will serve as an excellent pre-playoff test for the Blazers.
SEATTLE TOTEMS (15-9-1-2, 49 pts)
With losses in four of their last five games, the Seattle Totems didn’t end the first half of the campaign the way they would have liked.
The Totems were blown out by Bellingham, 9-1, before beating West Sound 7-3 at home prior to the Western States Shootout. Seattle went on to lose all three of its games in Las Vegas by an aggregate score of 20-6.
The Totems opened the showcase with a 7-3 loss to the Northern Colorado Eagles in a game in which they trailed 6-0. Seattle was shut out by the Fresno Monsters 4-0 the following day before wrapping up their slate of games in Vegas with a 9-3 defeat against the Utah Outliers.
Seattle will not play this weekend, giving it plenty of time to recover as it looks to get back into contention for the Northwest Division title. The Totems are 17 points out of first place, but because of the WSHL’s new point format in which a regulation win garners three points, Seattle is still a legitimate threat for the Northwest crown.
The Totems are back in action next weekend with a pair of road games against Southern Oregon. Seattle will return home the following week to play a pair of games against West Sound as well as a contest against Bellingham.
SOUTHERN OREGON SPARTANS (9-16-0-1, 28 pts.)
The Southern Oregon Spartans narrowly missed out on a perfect trip to Las Vegas during last month’s WSHL Showcase. Southern Oregon won its first two games before suffering a 4-2 loss to Valencia on the final day of the event.
In their first game, defenseman Axel Low led the way with a pair of goals while Hayden Moistner contributed a goal and two assists as the Spartans took down the Steamboat Wranglers by a score of 5-3.
Southern Oregon kept the ball rolling the next day with a strong defensive performance in a 3-1 win over the Casper Bobcats. Logan Emery scored a goal and dished out an assist while netminder Gabriel Lessard stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced.
In their loss against Valencia, the Spartans pulled within a goal of the Flyers in the final three minutes of regulation before an empty-net tally sealed Valencia’s win. Eric Vanderhoff scored both Southern Oregon goals in what was a quiet day for the Spartans offense.
It’s going to take a massive effort for Southern Oregon to threaten Seattle or Bellingham, the two clubs ahead of it in the Northwest Division standings. For now, the Spartans need to focus on the old cliché of taking things one game at a time.
Southern Oregon is off this week, giving it extra time to prepare for a two-game series against Seattle at home next Friday and Saturday.
WEST SOUND ADMIRALS (6-19-2-0, 22 pts.)
The West Sound Admirals played in three competitive games at the WSHL Showcase, falling to the Dallas Snipers and Ontario Avalanche before salvaging three points with a 4-0 shutout win over the Cheyenne Stampede.
Despite losing to Dallas, several Admirals had strong outings against the Snipers. Alexander Heiskanen led the way with two goals and a pair of assists while Leo Selitaj scored two goals of his own.
Additionally, Igor Litvinenko put together a three-point (1-2-3) performance as West Sound fell by a 7-5 final.
In the 4-0 win over Cheyenne, goaltender Alex Olsson was the difference in a game where both teams accumulated 31 shots on goal. Olsson’s shutout was his first of the season and it improved his record to 4-7-0 on the campaign.
The Admirals have a tough draw in the first month of the second half with series against Bellingham, Seattle, and the Fresno Monsters. Fresno currently sits at 18-10-1-0, only six points out of first place in the WSHL’s Western Division.
---Jared Tennant for Harrington Sports Media