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.

(Mark Mauno Photo) 

 BELLINGHAM BLAZERS (27-10-0-0, 81 pts.)


 The top two teams in the Northwest Division faced off last weekend when the Bellingham Blazers and Seattle Totems played a two-game split series.

Both teams won in enemy territory as the Blazers claimed a 5-2 win in Seattle on Friday before being shut out 1-0 on home ice on Sunday afternoon.

Bellingham remains comfortably in first place with a 13-point lead. The Blazers were competitive in the Northwest in their second WSHL season last year, but they did not experience nearly the success they’ve seen this season.

Part of that could be due to the departures of the Idaho IceCats and Lake Tahoe Icemen from the WSHL. Those two teams finished first and second, respectively, in the division last season and Tahoe knocked Bellingham out of the playoffs in the second round.

“I think we’ve done very well this year,” said Blazers Head Coach Mark Collins. “However, losing Idaho and Lake Tahoe certainly changed the complexion of our division. Who knows how we would have fared against two very competitive programs?”

Collins credits his team’s success to a plethora of returning players, saying, “We are a year older and hopefully a year wiser.”

Bellingham with play its next six games against Southern Oregon, a club it swept in a three-game set in late-November and early-December. After three games at Southern Oregon Ice, the Blazers will host the Spartans from February 8-10.

SEATTLE TOTEMS (20-10-1-2, 64 pts)


 The Seattle Totems continued their back-and-forth season series against Bellingham last weekend with a two-game split against the first-place Blazers.

In what was a jam-packed weekend, the Totems also logged a pair of home wins over West Sound that allowed them to begin to chip away at Bellingham’s sizeable lead at the top of the division standings.

Goaltender Rustam Kulizade, a recent addition to Seattle’s roster, made 36 saves for a shutout in his first start of the season in the Totems’ 1-0 win over Bellingham last Sunday.

Since Seattle joined the WSHL in 2012, there hasn’t been a Totem quite like forward Michael Shippee, the hometown product who is just outside the top 20 in league history in scoring. Shippee is once again leading the team in points with a 27-42-69 scoring line over 32 appearances.

No player has scored more points for the WSHL edition of the Totems franchise than Shippee, who is in his third season with Seattle.

For the first time in his WSHL career, Shippee is surrounded by scorers whose offensive prowess rival his own. Gabriel Sbop has racked up 59 points (25-34-59) as a rookie while Dominik Cach (27-20-47) is tied for the team lead in goals.

Additionally, Linus Eriksson (18-26-44) has been a reliable force while Cameron Waisman (21-18-39) is already a 20-goal scorer. All those players are the main contributors on a Totems offense that averages over five goals per contest.

It’s not a stretch to say that this year’s Totems squad features the best offensive talent in team history. Seattle will look to continue its strong season with a pair of road games in Southern Oregon next weekend.

SOUTHERN OREGON SPARTANS (9-21-0-1, 28 pts.)


 A couple of tough Western Division foes proved to be too much for the Southern Oregon Spartans to handle last weekend as they fell to the Long Beach Bombers before dropping a pair of games against the Ontario Avalanche.

Three different Spartans scored in a 5-3 loss to Ontario last Saturday: defenseman Mitchell Rutledge and forwards Erich Marshall and William Hart. Southern Oregon was held without a goal in a 4-0 shutout loss to Ontario last Sunday afternoon.

With 20 games remaining in their regular season schedule, the Spartans currently hold a six-point lead over the fourth-place West Sound Admirals but are 36 points behind Seattle.

Seventeen of Southern Oregon’s final 20 games are at home, including each of their last 12 contests. Playing such a high number of games on home ice can only be a positive for a Spartans team that has posted a 4-11-1 mark on the road.

Forward Eric Vanderhoff continues to pace the Spartans with 55 points (25-30-55). Defenseman Axel Low (10-28-38) and forward Logan Emery (15-23-38) are tied for second on the club in scoring.

Hayden Moistner (15-18-33) is listed at 5-foot-4, 140 pounds, but the Wasilla, Alaska native seems to play much bigger than his diminutive frame. Moistner has piled up a team-high 175 penalty minutes.

Southern Oregon will continue its quest for its first victory of the second half this weekend at home with a tough matchup against Bellingham.

WEST SOUND ADMIRALS (6-23-2-0, 22 pts.)


 The West Sound Admirals struggled to contain Seattle’s offense last weekend in a two-game sweep against the Totems. The Admirals allowed a total of 15 goals in the brief series.

Over the next two weeks, the Admirals will welcome a pair of Western Division clubs into Bremerton Ice Center with three-game series against the Fresno Monsters and Valencia Flyers.

Fresno is currently leading its division with a 23-12-3-0 record, good for 75 points, but Valencia has struggled this season and is in a 15-point hole at the bottom of the division.

To their credit, the Flyers gave the Monsters all they could handle on the road last weekend. Fresno came up on top 5-4 in overtime in a game in which Valencia lead by two goals in the third period.

West Sound will have the advantage of playing on home ice against both Western Division clubs. The Admirals have lost 15 of their 18 road games this season, so they’ll likely welcome the six-game homestand.

Oliwer Stensson has taken over as West Sound’s leading scorer with a hot couple of weeks. Stensson is riding a four-game point streak and has a pair of goals and five assists during that stretch.

---Jared Tennant for Harrington Sports Media