WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 03.06.19 – WESTERN 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.
FRESNO MONSTERS (28-16-3-1, 91 pts)
The Fresno Monsters have not won a game since February 1. OK, that statement is a bit misleading since the Monsters took a three-week hiatus, but they lost their last four games before that, and didn’t fare any better when they returned to action last week, managing just a single goal in road losses Valencia and Ontario.
No matter how you look at it, the Monsters have not gained any points in the standings in five weeks. Remarkably, it has not impacted the Western Division standings, as the third-place San Diego Sabers are too far back to catch them.
Fresno, which is 16-5-0 at home and 11-9-1 on the road, closes out the regular season this week with games at Valencia Friday and San Diego Saturday and Sunday. Provided Ontario does not catch San Diego, the Monsters will host the Sabers in a best-of-three division semifinal series in two weeks.
Fresno eliminated San Diego, two games to none, in a division quarterfinal series last season.
The Monsters will be looking for their first divisional playoff championship since 2015, which capped off a run of three Western Division championships in four years.
Fresno is also trying to return to the Thorne Cup tournament for the first time since 2014. The Monsters made three straight trips to the Thorne Cup. They did not make it past the round robin stage in 2012 or 2013 but, in 2014, they had their strongest showing, making it as far as the semifinals, where their season came to an end with a 3-2 loss to the Idaho Jr. Steelheads.
LONG BEACH BOMBERS (32-8-5-2, 108 pts)
Following a 5-4 overtime win over the Bellingham Blazers last Thursday, the Long Beach Bombers went out and tagged the Northwest Division leaders with a 13-1 loss the next day. It seemed like Long Beach had taken control of the series, but they failed to score in a 4-0 loss on Saturday.
At the end of the day, the Bombers collected five of a possible nine points, but it was an up-and-down performance – not what you want to see out of your team as they get ready for the post-season.
Thursday night in Bellingham, Tomas Urbanec scored his third goal of the game on a penalty shot with :14 left in overtime to give the Bombers a 5-4.
Long Beach blew out the Blazers on Friday with Gennady Malashenko and Erik Sillerstrom each scoring four goals. Malashenko also picked up four assists for an eight-point game which was matched by Artem Korolev (1-7-8).
The Blazers did a complete 180 on Saturday as goalie Jack Walsh led them to a 4-0 win 24 hours after getting blown out by 12 goals.
Parker Moskal, who scored 31 goals in 39 games for the Bombers last season, was recently traded from the Elmira Enforcers to the Mentor Ice Breakers in the Federal Hockey League. He scored a goal in his first game for the Ice Breakers, and has seven points (2-5-7) through his first three games with his new team.
ONTARIO AVALANCHE (16-27-2-3, 55 pts)
The Ontario Avalanche have been playing very well of late, but they are running out of runway in their pursuit of San Diego in the Western Division standings.
Ontario is 5-3-1-1 over their last 10 games, giving them 18 of a possible 30 points. Two of their three losses in that stretch were one-goal losses to Long Beach. It’s an impressive stretch of hockey that has the fourth-place Avalanche seven points behind the Sabers.
During the same 10-game span mentioned above, the Avs have scored 47 goals (4.7 per game). That is a significant increase from the 3.3 goals/game they were producing over their first 38 games.
Logan Corrigan, a 2000-birthdate forward from West Covina, CA has been a driving force behind the increased output from the Avalanche. He leads the team with 41 points (13-28-41), but 21 of those points (8-13-21) have come during his current nine-game point streak. That means he had just 20 points (5-15-20) after his first 33 games of the season.
Clearly the 18-year-old has made the adjustment to junior hockey after playing with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings U18 team last season.
Ontario closes out their regular season schedule on the road this weekend with a three-game inter-division series against the Southern Oregon Spartans.
SAN DIEGO SABERS (17-23-4-3, 62 pts)
One win – that is all the San Diego Sabers need to wrap up the #3 seed for the Western Division playoffs and bypass a first-round playoff series.
The Fresno Monsters invade Iceplex Escondido for a pair of games this weekend as the Western States Hockey League regular season nears its conclusion.
The Sabers, who will play their 51st and final game of the regular season in Valencia Tuesday night, posted huge road wins Saturday and Sunday in Seattle against the Totems.
The Totems broke the ice on Saturday, but the Sabers rallied for a 4-2 win behind Jakub Vesely’s two-goal game. Aaron Parsons (27 saves) preserved the road win for San Diego.
The Sabers rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the first period, scoring the next four goals and winning the rubber match of the series, 6-3. San Diego’s Aleksis Leskinen scored twice in the first period and capped off his hat trick with 1:28 left in the game, finishing off a nice two-on-one with Vesely, who had a goal and three assists in the game. Sabers goalie Marshall McKallip gave up a pair of goals early in the game, but recovered to stop 22 of 23 shots over the final two periods to backstop the comeback.
VALENCIA FLYERS (12-27-2-5, 45 pts)
The Valencia Flyers could still conceivably move out of the Western Division basement but, with three of their remaining five games coming against the division leaders from Long Beach, it will be a tall order.
The Flyers are 10 points behind fourth-place Ontario but have two games in hand on the Avalanche.
Danylo Moroz (47-51-98) set the franchise single-season record for points in a season and need just two more points to become the first 100-point scorer for the Flyers. He also needs just one more goal to match the Flyers’ record for goals in a season.
He will attempt to accomplish both feats this weekend as the Flyers finish off their regular season slate with a busy stretch of four games in four days – and five games in six. As was mentioned above, three of those games will be against the Bombers.
Moroz’ scoring exploits have somewhat overshadowed the fantastic season that Flyers captain Dominik Knap is having. Knap is just under two points-per-game with 79 (27-52-79) in 40 games.
Knap was very productive for the Atlanta Jr. Knights in the USPHL over the last two seasons, but has really taken his scoring touch to a new level playing out his junior eligibility with Valencia in the WSHL.
--- Compiled by Scott Harrington for Harrington Sports Media