WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 11.28.18 – 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 (13-6-0-0, 39 pts)
For the second week in a row, the Fresno Monsters posted a three-game sweep of a division opponent at Selland Arena. It not only gives the Monsters a six-game winning streak, it pulled them to within a single point of first place in the Western Division.
It has been a team effort in Fresno, but there are a trio of Monsters in particular, who have been producing at an impressive rate lately.
Petr Philippov produced three points in each game against San Diego last weekend, giving him 14 points (7-7-14) over the last six games.
Dustin Truex, meanwhile, extended his point streak to 10 games. He had collected 22 points (10-12-22) in that span.
Nakita Garin went through a stretch where he lit the lamp just once in seven games, but he still leads the club with 16 goals on the season after scoring four times in the last four games.
Jacob Haynes, three-year Monster (2013-2016), continues to produce with SUNY-Fredonia (NCAA Division III). Haynes went directly from the WSHL to NCAA hockey after scoring 52-goals for the Monsters during the 2015-16 season. As a freshman at Fredonia, Haynes scored 25 points (10-15-25) in just 21 games.
The 22-year-old Ontario native has five goals in the first eight games this season, giving him 51 points (23-28-51) in 53 career games for the Blue Devils.
LONG BEACH BOMBERS (12-3-2-0, 40 pts)
The Long Beach Bombers have still only lost three times in regulation this season, but their once-comfortable lead over Fresno has shrunk to an uncomfortable one point.
Part of the reason the Monsters were able to close the gap so quickly, in addition to the fact that they keep winning and the WSHL now awards three points for a regulation win, is that the Bombers have not been playing as heavy a schedule as Fresno.
Since playing three-in-three at home against the Monsters, The Bombers played twice the following weekend and just a single game the week of Thanksgiving. They will play twice this week against the visiting Utah Outliers.
As a result, the Bombers hold two games (and six possible points) in hand on the Monsters, but they need to take some points from an elite Utah team this weekend if they want to keep Fresno in their rear-view mirror.
The Bombers’ top nine scorers are all 6’0” or taller. One of those tall players is 6’3”, 187-pound Swedish defenseman Filip Nordin. Nordin has only collected points in seven of 16 games he has played this season, but six of those seven games were multi-point efforts. Nordin has a total of 13 points (1-12-13).
Domenic Bosetti’s .933 save percentage will be a career-high if he can maintain that clip for the remainder of the season. That is a tall order, but Bosetti posted a .928 in 26 games in 2015-16 – his first season with the Bombers.
ONTARIO AVALANCHE (4-9-0-2, 14 pts)
A 5-3 win over Valencia the day after Thanksgiving was just Ontario’s second win since October 20. The Avalanche were unable to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, losing their next game to the Flyers, 6-4.
Ontario will play three times at home this weekend, playing Fresno Friday and Sunday with a single game against the Utah Outliers sandwiched in between there on Saturday - a unique scheduling arrangement. The Avs will hope Long Beach softens the Outliers up as Utah plays at Long Beach Thursday and Friday.
18-year-old Connor Duffy ranks seventh in the WSHL in saves, with 359, this season. Duffy has managed that total in just 10 appearances between the pipes for the Avalanche, who usually do a better job of suppressing shots against.
Duffy has also collected two assists from his goaltending position already this season – both on the power play.
Jeremy Van Dyke has collected a point in 10 of his last 11 games.
Former Avalanche forward Sean Reynolds is playing his second year of pro hockey. Following a four-year NCAA Division III career with Lawrence University, the 6’0”, 185-pound Anaheim native began his first year of pro hockey with the Danville Dashers of the Federal Hockey League last year. He played well enough, scoring 17 goals in just 22 games, to earn a promotion to the Southern Professional Hockey League for a 21-game stint in Evansville.
Reynolds is back in the FHL this year with the Elmira Enforcers where he has 13 points (6-7-13) in 11 games played.
SAN DIEGO SABERS (5-12-3-1, 22 pts)
We have been talking for a while about the strong start of the Sabers – especially compared to their mark of a year ago – but the fact of the matter is, the team is closer to fourth place now than it is second.
San Diego has just one win in their last six games (1-4-0-1, 4 points) and will need to start collecting points if they want to keep clear of Ontario and Valencia.
The Sabers will play a single game this week – Thursday night in Valencia. A Flyers win in regulation would get them within three points of San Diego.
San Diego will play both the Flyers (2x) and the Avalanche the following week, so the order of the third- through fifth-place teams in the division could conceivably get scrambled prior to the upcoming showcase in Vegas.
Aleksei Vereshchagin and Marshall McKallip have split the goaltending duties in San Diego fairly evenly despite the fact that Vereshchagin has only two games all season where his single-game save percentage was under .900 and McKallip has only two games in which he’s had a save percentage over .900.
Vereshchagin’s owns a 3.83 goals-against average for the season and his save percentage sits at a healthy .904 SV%. McKallip checks in at 5.48/.869.
VALENCIA FLYERS (5-8-0-1, 16 pts)
Since their 6-3 home win over San Diego on November 8, the Valencia Flyers have won just one of their last five games, missing an opportunity to create some separation over the fifth-place Ontario Avalanche and gain ground on the sluggish San Diego Sabers.
The Flyers host the Sabers Thursday for a one-off game. It is crucial for Valencia to pick up a win as, over their next 13 scheduled games (does not include the showcase), they will face Long Beach (5x), Fresno (3x) and El Paso (2x). That rigorous schedule will make it difficult to gain ground.
Valencia will not play Ontario again until the middle of February.
The Flyers want to have themselves positioned well for the stretch drive, although the way the race is looking here in the first half, even a move up to third place would still have them playing a tough opponent (Long Beach or Fresno) on the road in the division semifinals.
The four-point game for Danylo Moroz (all goals) in the 6-4 win over Ontario on Sunday was not his biggest game of the season. He had five points (1-4-5) in a 6-5 win over Ontario on November 1.
Dominik Knap assisted on all four of Moroz’ goals Sunday – the fourth time he had had three or more points in a game this season.
The Flyers have not gotten much offensive production from their defensemen this season. None of their blue liners have scored more than a single goal and 16-year-old Lithuanian rearguard Matas Mikalauskas has the most points with four (1-3-4).
--- Compiled by Scott Harrington for Harrington Sports Media