MONDAY'S WHL MATCH-UPS

Mon Dec 31

AMERICANS TAKE ON CHIEFS – Justin Feser and the Tri-City Americans (20-14-1-2) welcome Mitch Holmberg and the Spokane Chiefs (24-11-1-0) for a battle between U.S. Division rivals in Western Hockey League action on New Year’s Eve.

The Americans suffered back-to-back 4-3 losses to the Portland Winterhawks in a weekend home-and-home series between the teams, and remain in third place in the U.S. Division.  The Americans are 9-7-0-2 on home ice this season.  Feser has two goals and seven points in six meetings versus Spokane this season.

The Chiefs split a weekend home-and-home series versus the Kootenay Ice, winning 1-0 in Cranbrook on Friday before losing 7-3 at home on Saturday, and currently sit in second place in the U.S. Division.  The Chiefs are 11-6-1 on the road this season, and have won six of their last eight road games.  Holmberg has 23 goals this season, five of which have come against Tri-Cities.

It’s the seventh meeting of the season between the Ams and Chiefs.  Spokane won four of the first six meetings between the teams.

In other WHL action on New Year’s Eve, Brendan Leipsic and the Portland Winterhawks (31-5-1-0) take on Connor Honey and the Seattle Thunderbirds (16-18-2-1) for another U.S. Division match-up.

The Winterhawks posted back-to-back wins over the Tri-City Americans on the weekend, stretching their winning streak to eight games, and remain comfortably in first place in the overall WHL standings.  The Hawks have lost just twice over their last 27 games.

The Thunderbirds dropped a pair of decisions to the Everett Silvertips in a weekend home-and-home series, stretching their losing skid to seven games, and remain in fourth place in the division.  The T-Birds’ power play is clicking at 24.7% efficiency on the road this season.

In Cranbrook, B.C., Sam Reinhart and the Kootenay Ice (11-24-1-0) welcome Brooks Macek and the Calgary Hitmen (24-9-1-3) for a match-up between Central Division rivals on Monday.

The Ice are coming off a 7-3 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane on Saturday for just their fourth road win of the season, and currently sit in sixth place in the Central Division.  Reinhart leads the Ice in scoring with 13 goals and 32 points this season.

The Hitmen split a pair of games versus the Lethbridge Hurricanes on the weekend, losing 2-1 at home on Friday then winning 4-1 in Lethbridge on Saturday, and currently sit in second place in the Central Division.  The Hitmen boast a 13-1-0-1 record on the road.

In Edmonton, AB, TJ Foster and the Edmonton Oil Kings (24-8-2-3) battle Michael Ferland and the Brandon Wheat Kings (14-20-2-2) on Monday.

The Oil Kings are coming off a pair of games versus Red Deer, having lost 5-3 to the Rebels in Edmonton on Thursday before downing the Rebels 6-1 in Red Deer on Friday, and currently own a one-point lead over Calgary for top spot in the Central Division.  Edmonton owns the WHL’s top-ranked power play and penalty killing unit.

The Wheat Kings edged the Rebels 6-5 in Red Deer on Sunday, snapping a two-game losing skid, and currently sit in sixth place in the East Division.  Ferland scored his first goal of the season – the game-winner – in Sunday’s victory in Red Deer.