WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 02.22.19 – PROVINCIAL 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.
COLD LAKE WINGS (3-30-2-2, 15 pts)
The Cold Lake Wings snapped a 12-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the visiting Hinton Wildcats Friday night.
Skyler Hildebrand made a few saves right off the bat in sudden death and a defenseman collected a loose puck on the end boards behind the Wings net and threw a pass right up the middle of the ice, splitting a pair of Wildcats and sending Tonks in alone on a breakaway. He had plenty of time to make a sweeping forehand-backhand move and snap the puck into a wide-open net.
Tonks figured in all four goals, assisting on both of Ilias Okemow’s tallies.
The teams played through a scoreless third period to get to OT.
Hildebrand made 35 of his 47 saves in the first two periods. Samuel Gendron, meanwhile, played well in defeat for Hinton making 31 saves.
Tonks has now scored eight goals in his first six games with the Wings.
Okemow’s first goal of the game was also an encouraging sign as it came on the power play. Cold Lake is tied with Steamboat for the fewest power play goals in the league (21), so if they can start getting contributions with the man-advantage that can only help as the games get tighter.
EDSON AEROS (28-6-1-1, 87 pts)
Edson head coach Bernie Lynch likes the look of his team post-trade deadline. The Aeros learned a lot about their team at the Western States Shootout where they came up short against three of the WSHL’s elite teams.
“We clearly discovered we could compete in Las Vegas we just didn't have the depth on defence or enough quality forward lines,” Lynch said.
Lynch and the Aeros went about adding to their roster and, with some new blood brought in to address some specific needs, the team loojs like they are ready to make a run at the Thorne Cup.
“I believe we are stronger in goal and on defence,” Lynch said, referring to his enhanced lineup.
Bronson Sudberry had a rough Aeros debut between the pipes. Liam Austin (21-5-0, 2.75, .919) is clearly the number one netminder that the Aeros will likely ride in the post-season, but any team that’s hoping to go on a long playoff run needs two goaltenders – especially when the Thorne Cup will consist of playing five games in five days.
Sudberry has a long track record of being a solid goalie in the WSHL, so look for Lynch to go back to him this weekend to give him a chance to get things back on track with his new teammates.
HINTON WILDCATS (19-14-1-2, 61 pts)
The anticipated Hinton-Meadow Lake Provincial Division Semifinal series is shaping up to be a good one. A best-of-three series where the expected outcome is not clear should be very entertaining.
Hinton has had a tough time handling the Mustangs lately but built up enough of a lead early in the season that it is next to impossible for the Wildcats to be knocked out of the #2 seed and the home ice advantage that goes with it.
The Wildcats need their big guns to get hot and start producing again, however, if they want to advance in the post-season. Leading scorer Brendan Auger has just one point in his last four games – and four points (2-2-4) over his last eight. That’s after putting up 25-31-56 over the first 25 games.
Dimitri Buttazzoni, second on the team with 59 points, has just one goal in his last 11 games after scoring 27 in his first 24 games.
MEADOW LAKE MUSTANGS (10-24-1-0, 32 pts)
The Meadow Lake Mustangs may not be able to catch Hinton for second place, but they are 6-4-0 over their last 10 games, and look like they will be able to give anybody a run for their money in the post-season. The Mustangs are likely to play Hinton in the Provincial Division Semifinals and have defeated the Wildcats the last two times they played.
There are two areas on special teams where Meadow Lake could use improvement. The Mustangs have only skated 231:23 with the man-advantage. There are only two teams in the entire league – Oklahoma City and Long Beach – that have less time on the power play. Drawing more penalties and getting their power play out there more often is definitely an area where the Mustangs could do better.
On the other side of the coin, the Mustangs have only scored three shorthanded goals all season. Erik Ehrmantraut, Geirdue Janvier and Justyn Noltcho-Clarke have all contributed one shortie.
--- Compiled by Scott Harrington for Harrington Sports Media