WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 10.26.17 – NORTHWEST DIVISION
BELLINGHAM BLAZERS (1-5-2)
The Bellingham Blazers were swept by division-leading Tahoe last weekend, but managed to pick up a point by virtue of a crazy 7-6 double-overtime defeat in the second game.
The Blazers seemed to be on their way to victory as they held a one-goal advantage late in the third period, but Tahoe scored with just four seconds left in regulation to tie the game at six goals apiece.
After the loss, Bellingham Head Coach Mark Collins said, “I thought we played a solid and gutsy third period, but we need to play a full 60 minutes to be successful. We will regroup and go back to work tomorrow.”
Collins’ club has seen mixed results through the first month of the season. The Blazers have dropped seven of their first eight games, but five of those losses were decided by two goals or fewer.
Bellingham has shown that it can compete with its Northwest Division rivals, but it will need to figure out a way to win close games soon or it will risk falling even further behind in the competitive division.
The Blazers will take on West Sound in a home-and-home series this weekend starting Saturday night at Bellingham Sportsplex. Bellingham’s only win came against West Sound, so it should be a prime opportunity to pick up some points.
IDAHO ICECATS (6-0-0)
The Idaho IceCats continued their torrid start with three consecutive wins over West Sound, pushing their record to a perfect 5-0-0.
Forwards Lance Herning (10-5-15), Hunter Lester (2-11-13), and Alexaner Piliya (2-10-12) have led the way for the Idaho offense. Herning is the only IceCats skater with more than three goals, a testament to just how balanced the scoring has been for a club that averages about six goals per contest.
Idaho has played four different goalies thus far, and statistically Jacob Hough (.957 save percentage) has been the most impressive.
Shaun Brown (.923), Tyler Matthews (.897), and Wyatt Monear (.800) have also appeared between the Idaho pipes, with Matthews and Brown getting the majority of the ice time.
This weekend, the IceCats will welcome the Casper Coyotes to McCall, Idaho, for a three-game series.
The Coyotes, who are led by former Southern Oregon Head Coach David Cole, are reeling after managing just one goal against Utah in their last series.
Casper will need to bring its best if it wants to compete against an IceCats squad that looks as though it has just as much talent as in years past.
SEATTLE TOTEMS (6-0-1)
The Seattle Totems were idle last week and had to watch as Tahoe surpassed them for the top spot in the division. It happens that the Totems are scheduled to play the Icemen on the road this weekend and will have a chance to reclaim first place.
Right now, Seattle is in second place with 13 points, one point more than Idaho and one point behind Tahoe.
With the way Idaho is playing, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it sweep another series this weekend, meaning either Seattle or Tahoe will most likely need to take at least five of six possible points in the series to end up in first place after this weekend’s games.
Following this weekend, the Totems will open the month of November with a two-game set at home against West Sound before taking on Idaho for three games at home.
SOUTHERN OREGON SPARTANS (1-11-0)
The Southern Oregon Spartans were swept again, pushing their losing streak to nine games.
The Spartans fought hard, but were over-matched last weekend against Ogden, the club that won the Mountain Division last year en-route to a Thorne Cup semifinal appearance.
Kalem Nohnych collected three points against Ogden and now shares the team lead in points with eight (5-3-8).
Nohnych, 16, is playing his first WSHL season, and the results have been positive thus far. The rookie leads the club in goals (5) and penalty minutes (50).
The Spartans are off this week. They return to action November 3 to open a three-game series against Bellingham on the road.
After that, Southern Oregon will close out its season series against Utah with a three-game set at home.
TAHOE ICEMEN (6-4-2)
The Tahoe Icemen took control of the Northwest Division last weekend after a perfect 3-0-0 series against Bellingham.
Captain Paul Frys racked up eight points in the series and now owns a line of 13-14-27. The former Vancouver Ranger is tied for seventh place in the league scoring race.
Frys, Marek Ondrasky (5-11-16), Ilja Cetvertak (6-4-10), Danylo Moroz (7-7-14), Phil Heisse (5-8-13), and Jackson Oleson (2-11-13) are all scoring at a point-per-game pace for Tahoe.
The offense has provided plenty of support for the goaltending duo of Wade Conlan and Thomas Spero, who both have save percentages over .900. Conlan is showing marked improvement in his second year with the Icemen. His 3.20/.911 slash line is much better than last year’s 4.97/.889.
The Icemen have been effectively defending home ice this season, earning points in five of six games at South Lake Tahoe Arena.
Tahoe will close out its six-game homestand this weekend with a crucial three-game series against Seattle. It will need to win the series in order to hold onto first place.
WEST SOUND WARRIORS (4-6-0)
After being swept by Idaho, the West Sound Warriors’ losing streak has hit five in a row.
The only close game in the series was a 4-1 loss in the second contest. Other than that, the IceCats were almost always in control.
The Warriors have struggled since winning four of their first five, but growing pains are to be expected when a team moves into a new league.
West Sound’s special teams have not produced. Its power play is converting at a 10.9% clip, while its penalty kill has kept the opposition off the board under 80 percent of the time.
The Warriors are in fourth place, but Bellingham trails them by only four points. West Sound will either add to that lead or watch it disappear this weekend when it battles the Blazers in a two-game series.
--- Jared Tennant for Harrington Sports Media