WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 11.03.17 – WESTERN DIVISION
FRESNO MONSTERS (6-6-0, 12 pts)
The Fresno Monsters continue their three-week break with another week of practice and conditioning.
The Monsters’ hiatus did not come at a great time for a club that had won six of its last seven games, including a three-game sweep of Phoenix.
Perhaps the most impressive part of this year’s edition of the Monsters has been the play of first-year forward Daylon Mannon. Mannon leads the Western Division with an 18-16-34 line and is fifth overall in the league scoring race.
The Fresno native leads the team in both goals and assists. His play been matched only by veteran Cody Key (15-12-27), who is averaging nearly three points per game.
The duo of Mannon and Key has combined to score over half of the Monsters’ goals.
Beyond that, the next highest-scoring player on Fresno’s roster is defenseman Logan Domagala (4-9-13), who still scoring at a point-per-game pace.
The Monsters will return to the ice on November 9 to open up a three-game series at home against Bellingham.
LONG BEACH BOMBERS (14-0-0, 28 pts)
Last week proved that no matter how good you are, you still need to play a nearly flawless game in order to beat the red-hot Long Beach Bombers.
The Bombers, who are riding a 14-game winning streak to open the season, pulled off back-to-back close wins over division rivals Valencia and Ontario.
The game against Valencia was tied headed into the third period before Frej McLoughlin and Miroslav Rohlik lit the lamp within a minute of each other to give Long Beach a commanding 3-1 lead.
Valencia tacked on another goal later in the period, but the Bombers held on behind 33 saves from netminder Domenic Bosetti.
Rohlik leads the Bombers in goals (18) and points (30). He is one of 10 Long Beach skaters who have collected double-digit points.
When you look around for the top goaltenders in the WSHL, you can’t help but notice how many Bombers are at or near the top of the list.
All three Long Beach netminders are in the top 15 in the league in save percentage. Bosetti (1.96/.941) is having another amazing season, Rhett Arnold leads all WSHL goalies with a .959 save percentage and Matthew Ayres (1.28/.927) has been effective when he has played as well.
The Long Beach netminders will be tested again this week when the club plays a home-and-home series against Valencia starting on Thursday night. With the way things have gone for the Bombers thus far, you have to think the trio will be ready to dominate once again.
ONTARIO AVALANCHE (5-6-1, 11 pts)
A brutal stretch on their schedule has dropped the Ontario Avalanche under .500 for the first time this season.
Each of Ontario’s last five games, which have come against El Paso, Valencia, and Long Beach, have been decided by two goals or fewer. The Avs have played in four one-goal games during that stretch.
The result has been a six-game losing streak that can’t be all that discouraging for a team that is capable of winning on any given night.
Talent is not an issue for Ontario, which has shown it can compete with the best the WSHL has to offer. It simply needs to find a way to win the close games.
The Avalanche will not have to worry about a lack of opportunities for revenge against Long Beach and Valencia. Each of their next six games will be played against either the Bombers or the Flyers.
Ontario is the only team in the league with a sub-.500 record that still owns a positive goal-differential. The Avs have racked up 42 goals while holding opponents to 40.
Ontario is off this weekend, but it will play next week when it welcomes Long Beach and Valencia to Ontario Ice Center on back-to-back nights over Veterans Day weekend.
PHOENIX KNIGHTS (0-13-2)
Each week, the Phoenix Knights are getting closer and closer to finally earning that elusive first victory of the year.
Last week, the club was swept by Superior despite playing in three one-goal games, including a pair of contests that required overtime to decide a winner.
On the bright side, the Knights picked up their first two points of the year and are now tied for fifth place with San Diego.
Forward Anthony Masanotti has been one of the lone bright spots in what has been a rough start to the first half for the Knights. The 19-year-old found the back of the net on five separate occasions against Superior, giving him a team-leading 11 goals on the year.
Phoenix will take on San Diego this weekend at home. The three-game series should be an opportunity to pick up some additional points as the Sabers have also struggled this year.
SAN DIEGO SABERS (1-11-0, 2 pts)
The San Diego Sabers didn’t have much to cheer for last weekend when they were blown out by El Paso three times.
El Paso outscored San Diego 33-2 during the series, and each contest was all but over following the first period.
The Sabers’ current roster situation has not done much to help their cause. With just 19 skaters on their active roster, players have had to deal with plenty of fatigue late in games.
Competing in the brutal Western Division has not been kind to San Diego, which has just one win over nine games against division rivals. The lone victory came on October 15 when the Sabers defeated Fresno 3-1. It was a noteworthy win because the Monsters seem like a much-improved team this season.
Nine of San Diego’s next 15 games will be played against Phoenix, including the club’s next two three-game series.
It should be a competitive couple of weeks between the Sabers and Knights as both teams look to pick up some much-needed points in the division standings.
VALENCIA FLYERS (10-2-0, 20 pts)
The Valencia Flyers suffered a rare loss in their lone game last weekend, a 3-2 setback against undefeated Long Beach.
Despite owning one of the league’s best records at 10-2-0, Valencia is now eight points out of first place due to the play of the powerhouse Bombers, who have the best record in the WSHL.
Once again, the Flyers’ special teams units are among the top 10 in the league. Valencia’s power play is scoring on 24.5% of its chances, while its penalty kill is converting at an 84.8% clip.
Valencia also owns the third-best offense in the league with 83 total goals, good for an average of nearly seven goals per contest.
The goal-scoring effort is being led by Dylan San Agustin (10-7-17) and Dawson Keay (11-10-21). San Agustin is averaging a goal per game, while Keay is not far behind him with 11 scores over 12 appearances.
The second-place Flyers will get a chance to chip into their deficit when they take on Long Beach again this weekend in a two-game set.
Looking ahead, Valencia will battle the Bombers one more time on November 10 before traveling to Ontario for a matchup with the Avalanche the following night.
--- Jared Tennant for Harrington Sports Media