by Jared Tennant

 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.

 DALLAS SNIPERS (15-11-1-0, 47 pts.)


 The Dallas Snipers hosted the Cheyenne Stampede over the weekend and, facing a team with only two wins on the season, they probably anticipated a nice boost in the standings.

Instead, while the Snipers took care of business in two of three games, the Stampede posted a 4-2 win on Saturday night.

Dallas had a chance to leapfrog Northern Colorado for third place in the Mid-Western Division. Instead, the Snipers had to settle for pulling even with the Eagles.

Dallas’ top four forwards have carried much of the offensive load this season. Jasa Jenko (19-17-36), Igor Litvinenko (13-22-35), Eric Eaton (11-20-31), and Karolis Krasilnikovas (10-18-28) have provided valuable production for a Snipers’ club that is averaging a solid 4.3 goals per game, third best in the division.

Krasilnikovas, 17, recently had his best game of the season when he factored in on five of seven Dallas goals, going 3-2-5 in the Snipers’ 8-7 loss to Wichita prior to the Western States Shootout.

Dallas will look to secure some additional points in the division standings this weekend when it plays a three-game series on the road against the Steamboat Wranglers.

EL PASO RHINOS (20-6-2-2, 66 pts.)


The El Paso Rhinos will return from the holiday break this weekend with a pivotal three-game series on the road against Oklahoma City.

The Blazers are currently four points behind the division-leading Rhinos with four games in hand, so this series could change the outlook of the standings for the remainder of the second half.

El Paso has yet to play against OKC at home. In fact, six of its nine matchups against the Blazers will come in enemy territory. The Rhinos’ only home series against Oklahoma City is scheduled for February 22-24.

El Paso is the most penalized team in the division with 697 penalty minutes through 30 games, good for an average of more than 23 PIMs per contest.

Right now, the only two goaltenders listed on the Rhinos’ roster are Nils Velm and Adrain Morales. Velm comes as no surprise after posting a 1.88 goals-against average to go along with a .923 save percentage in 29 appearances this season, but Morales is a 19-year-old who has never played in the WSHL.

Morales, a Monroe, Michigan, product, most recently played for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings U18 in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League U18, posting a 3.04/.893 slash line.

NORTHERN COLORADO EAGLES (15-12-0-2, 47 pts.)


The Northern Colorado Eagles were forced to sit at home and watch as Dallas tied them in the division standings with a pair of wins again Cheyenne over the weekend.

The Eagles will have a chance to reclaim sole possession of third place this weekend when they travel to Wichita for their first three games of the second half.

Northern Colorado will be playing the Jr. Thunder for the first time this season. The two clubs are only slated to match up six times this year, as Wichita will travel to Greeley Ice Haus for a three-game series February 22-24.

Wichita is an improved club, having beaten some of the best in the WSHL in what has been an up-and-down season. It will be interesting to see how things play out this weekend at Wichita Ice Center.

Northern Colorado has some talented scorers, but its offense is by committee. The Eagles have four skaters with 25 points or more and 12 players who have registered double-digit points, including leading scorer Jacob Elik (7-23-30).

Veteran netminder Marshall Murphy put together an impressive first half, going 10-9-2 with a 2.86 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in a workhorse role. He has already made as many appearances as he did all of last season with the Superior RoughRiders.

OKLAHOMA CITY BLAZERS (20-5-1-0, 62 pts.)


It has been almost three weeks since the Oklahoma City Blazers last played, meaning the team has been forced to see El Paso at the top of the Mid-Western Division standings since before Christmas.

The Blazers have a shot at reclaiming their spot atop the division this weekend when they return to action with a three-game series against the Rhinos on home ice.

OKC and El Paso have already played one series against each other, and it was arguably one of the best series of the first half of the WSHL season.

OKC won two of three games, and each one was decided by two goals or fewer. The Blazers won the first two contests before the Rhinos salvaged three points with a 4-2 win in the series finale.

Veteran forward Vitali Mikhailov is on pace for his best season ever in his fourth year in Oklahoma City. The 20-year-old has 27 goals and 25 assists for a total of 52 points in 26 games this season.

Mikhailov’s previous career-best in points came in a 42-32-65 performance in 39 appearances last season. He currently sits just outside the top 10 in the WSHL in scoring and leads the Blazers in goals while trailing only Dominic Loubert (5-27-32) in assists.

(Mark Mauno Photo)

WICHITA JR. THUNDER (7-18-0-2, 23 pts.)


Following a strong performance at the WSHL Showcase that saw them claim eight of nine possible points, the Wichita Jr. Thunder will open the second half at home against Northern Colorado this weekend.

The Jr. Thunder logged wins over the Cold Lake Wings and CPJHL Red Team in Las Vegas before falling to the Cheyenne Stampede by a 3-2 final in overtime.

Forward Tyler Inlow has managed to put together a solid season despite his team’s early struggles with 17 goals and 16 assists, good for 33 points.

Inlow is joined by Quinn O’Reilly (14-13-27, 26 GP) and Marcus Ohlsson-Ornelius (10-15-25, 19 GP) as point-per-game scorers on the Jr. Thunder’s roster.

Forward Erik Back (8-16-24) is a veteran presence on one of the youngest teams in the WSHL. Wichita’s roster features an average age of just 18 years old, while Back is a 20-year-old with two years of WSHL experience.


---Jared Tennant for Harrington Sports Media