WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 11.07.17 – MID-WEST DIVISION
DALLAS SNIPERS (4-11-0, 8pts)
Sterling Cooper was a bright spot as the Dallas Snipers lost three straight to Springfield over the weekend, producing nine points (5-4-9).
The Snipers have been playing with some grit, but tend to come up short, and that was certainly true this weekend. While they were blown out by identical 10-3 scores Friday and Saturday, they didn’t let up on Sunday forcing the Express to score five third period goals to win.
New Sniper Danil Trenikhin went 3-1-4 against Springfield, including a hat trick in Sunday’s game, giving the Russian five points in his first six games in North America.
Cooper (11-15-26) now leads Dallas in goals and Alex Hladonik (10-17-26) leads the team in assists and points.
Goalie Brady Weiss played in both Saturday and Sunday’s games, making 78 saves over the two games.
Dallas only has two more series left before the holiday break, travelling to Oklahoma City November 17-19 and then enjoying a three-week break before going to Wichita December 8-10.
EL PASO RHINOS (12-0-0, 24 pts)
The El Paso Rhinos ran over the Superior RoughRiders of the Mountain Division, winning all three games to remain undefeated this season.
Four different El Paso players scored in Friday’s 4-1 win, and six different players scored in Sunday’s 6-1 victory. But, on Saturday, everyone got involved with every skater getting a point save for Nicholas Hames who wasn’t left off the scoresheet thanks to a 1st period boarding call. To be fair to Nick, Saturday’s contest saw a total of 94 PIMs between the two teams with El Paso chipping in 55 of their own.
Chaseton Sare and Tim Heffner each scored the hat trick on Saturday and Cole Richardson, Carlo Wittor, Justin-Cole Dubecky each added playmakers in the second game.
While Superior kept their cool on Sunday, the Rhinos still managed 59 PIMs to the RoughRiders’ twelve.
Overall, the Rhino’s outshot Superior by a margin of 100, 139-39, including a 47-6 differential on Sunday.
El Paso’s 93 goals scored and 335 PIMs lead the Mid-Western Division, while their +77 goal differential is good for second in the WSHL.
El Paso has incredibly balanced scoring. Ten Rhinos now have double-digit points, but only Sare (10-20-30) has more than eight goals.
El Paso visits division rivals Springfield this weekend, a team they play twice in the next three weekends. Stuck between the Express series is the Mountain Division’s Colorado Jr. Eagles, meaning that come the end of November, if El Paso still has their undefeated season going, they most definitely will have earned it.
OKLAHOMA CITY BLAZERS (9-0-0, 18pts)
The Oklahoma City Blazers have only played six games since September 24, so it’s easy to forget about them, but they are undefeated in their first nine games. They had more time off this past weekend.
Oklahoma City will get back to the ice this weekend when they visit the Mountain Division’s Cheyenne Stampede on Friday for three games.
They’ve already swept Dallas in their previous series, so it looks like Springfield and El Paso will prove the biggest challengers to the Blazers’ unbeaten record.
Ivan Bondarenko is probably itching to get back to the ice after a blazing hot start that saw him score a 16-15-31 line in his first nine games.
His hot start has put Bondarenko in second place on the franchise’s all-time lists of some pretty important categories. As of this week, he is 2nd in Assists (76), Goals (64), and Points (140). He is also currently 5th in PIMs (166) in 77 career games with OKC.
The man ahead of him, topping the franchise in all four categories? None other than the legend Kirill Romanov (101-115-216, w/ 395 PIMs) who has just signed to play with the London Lakers of the GMHL.
OKC’s upcoming series with Cheyenne will mark the beginning of a grueling stretch of six straight weekends (18 games) before the holiday break.
SPRINGFIELD EXPRESS (8-2-2, 18pts)
The Springfield Express continue to roll, sweeping Mid-Western Division rival Dallas in three games, including a tight one on Sunday.
Springfield won the first two games by a combined 20-6 score, but needed five third period goals on Sunday to win after entering the final frame down 5-3.
Belarussian twins Arkhip and Filimon Ledenkov went off on Dallas, with Arkhip scoring 6-4-10 in the series and brother Filimon chipping in eight assists. They each have 22 points in their first 12 games in North America, with Arkhip (11-11-22) tied for the team lead in goals, and Filimon (5-17-22) second on the team in assists. Defenseman Michael Polito leads Springfield with 19 helpers.
Goaltender Kristof Dobos made 54 saves in two starts and a half-game against Dallas.
Springfield is now tied with OKC for second place in the Mid-Western Division, but have played three more games than the Blazers. Either way, it’s a three-team race at the top of the division with Wichita still going through growing pains and Dallas not quite getting their footing.
The 417s have won five of their last six and will take on first-place El Paso this weekend. Springfield plays the Rhinos twice in the next three weeks, and each three-game series will go a long way to deciding where, in the division pecking order, the Express belong.
WICHITA JR. THUNDER (1-14-0, 2pts)
The Thunder hasn’t rolled much this season, with only one win in their first 15 games. They also haven’t played in two weeks and will have another off before facing off with Springfield November 17 at home.
Right now, Tyler Alverson leads the team with a 3-4-7 line in his first nine games in the WSHL. Braedon Thomas (4-2-6, 18 PIMs) and David Zarycki (1-5-6, 33 PIMS) are also among the team leaders in points, and all three players are rookies.
The Jr. Thunder are in the league’s top three in PIMs, leading the Mid-Western Division with 327 through 15 games. John Lebar’s 46 PIMs leads Wichita.
The Jr. Thunder was previously swept by the Express at the end of September by a total three-game score of 31-3, so we’ll see if the three weeks off has made much of a difference for a Wichita team looking for a different result.
--- Tyler Whidden for Harrington Sports Media