WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 12.06.18 – MOUNTAIN 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.
CASPER BOBCATS (4-14-0-0, 12 pts)
The Casper Bobcats have a big series this week with the Steamboat Wranglers coming to town for three games. Heading into the weekend, the Wranglers are two points up on the Bobcats, meaning the series represents an opportunity for the Bobcats to move into third place in the division by winning two of the three games in regulation.
This week’s meeting will be the first three meetings of the seven-game season series between the two teams that seem to be evenly-matched based on their respective records in the first half of the season.
This should be an entertaining series for the fans at Casper Ice Arena.
Ludwig Nordqvist made 44 saves on 46 shots as Bobcats won, 5-2, in Wichita last Friday. Casper was not able to build on that, however, and lost the next two games to the Jr. Thunder.
Bronson Sudberry made 47 saves and Tyler Alverson’s goal with 3:07 left gave Wichita a 4-3 win on Saturday. Nordqvist entered the game late in the second period in relief of starter Kayne Pasquet, who made 24 saves. Nordqvist stopped 19 of 20 shots in the third period, allowing just Alverson’s game-winner.
Casper came back to tie after Wichita took leads of 1-0 and 2-1 on Sunday, but Casper was not able to tie it up a third time and went on to lose, 6-4. Daniel Silar scored twice for the Bobcats
CHEYENNE STAMPEDE (2-17-0-1, 7 pts)
Having won their first two games of the year in their most recent action prior, the Cheyenne Stampede went into their game last Friday against Northern Colorado at the Cheyenne Ice and Events Center with some optimism.
The Eagles broke open a close game with four goals in the second period, however, and rolled to an 8-1 win over the Stampede Friday night in Cheyenne. Dawson Nelson scored the Cheyenne goal early in the second period, getting the Stampede within a goal at 2-1, but the Eagles took over from there.
That game showed that – while progress is happening – there is still work to be done if Cheyenne is going to remain competitive in the second half of the season.
To that end, the Stampede brought in two players: forward Zachary Harrison and goaltender Jonathan TerWisscha.
Harrison, an 18-year-old forward from Saline, MI, was acquired from the San Diego Sabers. He played in 18 games for San Diego in his first taste of junior hockey.
TerWisscha, also 18, comes to Cheyenne from the Alexandria Blizzard of the Tier II North American Hockey League. He fared well in two NAHL games with a 2.50 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. TerWisscha played the previous three seasons with River Lakes High School in Minnesota.
Goaltender Brendan Carew has been a workhorse in goal for Cheyenne. He made 52 saves against Northern Colorado – the ninth time this season he has faced 40 or more shots in a game. Carew’s 496 shots faced are third-most in the WSHL this season.
The Stamps will go to Ogden for three against the division-leading Mustangs at The Ice Sheet this week. They then host Steamboat for three games next week before heading to Vegas for the showcase. They will go into the break with six games in eight days.
Cheyenne’s opponents at the Western States Shootout include Wichita, West Sound and a select team from the CPJHL.
OGDEN MUSTANGS (19-1-0-1, 58 pts)
A 10-point lead used to feel pretty comfortable in the WSHL. It was enough of a gap to at least give you a little warning if a team started to close in on you. But with three points being awarded for regulation wins, that lead can disappear quickly – just ask the Long Beach Bombers of the Western Division.
Ogden sits 10 points up on Utah as we get into the December portion of the schedule. The Mustangs still hold three games (and nine possible points) in hand, but will face a challenging trio of games at the Western States Shootout in Las Vegas in a few weeks: Fresno, El Paso and the Provincial Division-leading Edson Aeros.
If the Mustangs can come away with 6+ points in Vegas, then take advantage of their games in hand, they can take most of the intrigue out of the Mountain Division title race.
A stumble at the showcase, or failing to at least split the six remaining head-to-head games with the Outliers, could open the door for a stretch drive challenge by Utah.
Ogden general manager and head coach Jake Laime does not focus on nay one of the Mustangs’ 51 games more than another – including their December 14 clash with the Outliers before they head to Vegas for the showcase.
“We try to keep a ‘never-be-comfortable’ mindset and really have no regard for the 12/14 game,” said Laime. “We prepare for every game the same and one game isn’t going make or break our season. If we win...great! If not...we learn and hopefully move forward. Utah is a good program and great rival...we are excited and welcome the challenge.”
Laime talks to college scouts about his players ahead of the showcase but here is nothing like the in-person interaction the event offers.
“It’s a great opportunity for our players to get face to face with the interested programs and get a better understanding for what each school offers,” he said. “It’s an exciting week that we are most certainly looking forward to.”
The Mustangs will host the Cheyenne Stampede for three games at the Ice Sheet this weekend.
STEAMBOAT WRANGLERS (4-17-1-0, 14 pts)
The Steamboat Wranglers will experience the Western States Shootout for the first time later this month. They will face two teams from the Provincial Division at the event – the Cold Lake Wings and Hinton Wildcats – as well as the Southern Oregon Spartans.
The Wranglers players will hope to catch the eye of a college scout in Vegas and follow a similar path to Steamboat native Jack McNamara. McNamara played for the Wranglers in the RMJHL two years ago, went to Canada to play a year of Junior B in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, then landed at the NCAA Division III program at St. Olaf College this fall.
Steamboat played just once last week, travelling to Greely on Saturday. Jarrett Marks scored a hat trick and Mitchell Robinson stopped 24 of 25 shots to lead the Northern Colorado Eagles to a 9-1 home win.
Jordan Belley went the distance for the Wranglers, making 48 saves, including 21 in the third period.
Jeremy Landers, Jr. scored the Steamboat goal late in the first period.
UTAH OUTLIERS (15-7-1-1, 48 pts)
The Western States Shootout may be coming up fast, but the Utah Outliers are not waiting to get a taste of inter-division play. Utah collected seven of nine possible points on their trip to California to take on a pair of Western Division opponents last week.
The Outliers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the Long Beach Bombers with 3:13 left in regulation on Thursday, but Artem Korolev’s goal with :33 left in overtime made a winner out of Long Beach. Oscar Wahlgren made 34 saves for the Outliers, stopping 23 of 24 shots over the second and third period as the Outliers staged their comeback.
The Outliers shook off the disappointment of Thursday’s loss and came back with a strong effort on Friday. Jan Dvorak’s second goal of the game, :22 into the third period, broke a 2-2 tie and held up as the game-winner with Anthony Masanotti adding two more goals for a 5-2 Utah win. Wahlgren got the win, stopping 26 of 28.
Inter-division action resumes this week for the Outliers as they host the Northern Colorado Eagles of the Mid-Western Division for three games.
Looking forward to the Western States Shootout, Utah will face Bellingham and Seattle from the Northwest Division and the Western Division’s San Diego Sabres.
--- Compiled by Scott Harrington for Harrington Sports Media