SATURDAY'S WHL MATCH-UPSSat Nov 24
ROCKETS HOST BLADES – Ryan Olsen and the Kelowna Rockets (13-8-1-1) take on Matej Stransky and the Saskatoon Blades (11-11-0-1) in Western Hockey League action on Saturday night.
The Rockets blasted the visiting Regina Pats 5-1 on Friday night to improve to 9-3-1 over their last 13 games, and currently sit in second place in the B.C. Division. The Rockets have won their last seven games at home. Olsen will be facing his former team for the first time since being traded to Kelowna from Saskatoon in May.
The Blades came away with a 3-2 victory over the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday night, overturning a 2-0 deficit in the third period, which improved them to 3-1 through four games of their B.C. road trip. The Blades are 9-5-0-1 on the road this season. Stransky has scored in each of his last four games, picking up five goals in that span.
It’s the only meeting of the season between the Blades and Rockets. The Rockets won last season’s only meeting with a 5-1 win in Saskatoon on December 17, 2011.
In other WHL action on Saturday, Colin Smith and the Kamloops Blazers (19-6-1-1) welcome Trevor Cheek and the Vancouver Giants (7-16-0-0) for a battle between B.C. Division foes.
The Blazers dropped their second straight decision with Friday’s 3-2 setback to the visiting Blades, but remain firmly in first place in the B.C. Division. Friday’s defeat was just the second regulation loss for the Blazers at home this season.
The Giants are coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to the Winterhawks in Portland on Wednesday night for their third straight defeat, and remain in fifth place in the B.C. Division. The Giants have just two wins on the road this season.
In Everett, WA, Landon Oslanski and the Everett Silvertips (9-15-0-2) take on Jaedon Descheneau and the Kootenay Ice (7-14-1-0) on Saturday.
The Silvertips dropped a 3-1 decision to the Chiefs in Spokane on Wednesday night after having won their previous two outings, and currently sit in fifth place in the U.S. Division. Oslanski, a defenceman, leads the Silvertips in scoring with 18 points this season.
The Ice fell 4-2 to the Winterhawks in Portland on Friday night for their second straight defeat to start a U.S. Division road trip, and currently sit in sixth place in the Central Division. Descheneau leads the Ice with 15 assists this season.
In Prince Albert, SK, Leon Draisaitl and the Prince Albert Raiders (17-7-0-2) welcome Jayce Hawryluk and the Brandon Wheat Kings (10-12-2-1) for the second straight meeting between the East Division rivals.
The Raiders romped their way to a 6-0 shutout win over the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Friday night for their second win in a row, and currently sit 11 points clear for first place in the East Division. Draisaitl is currently tied for first among all WHL rookies in scoring with 21 points.
The Wheat Kings suffered their fifth loss over their last six games with Friday’s shutout defeat to the Raiders, and currently sit in a three-way tie for third place in the East Division. The Wheaties are 5-6-1-1 on the road this season.
In Red Deer, AB, Conner Bleackley and the Red Deer Rebels (14-11-1-1) take on Brayden Point and the Moose Jaw Warriors (8-11-3-3) on Saturday night.
The Rebels edged the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes 2-1 in a shootout on Friday night, stretching their win streak to four games, and moves into third place in the Central Division. Bleackley, a 16-year-old rookie, has scored in each of his last three games.
The Warriors were downed 5-1 in Edmonton by the Oil Kings on Friday night for their third loss in a row and their 10th road defeat of the season. The Warriors’ penalty killing unit is operating at just 64.3% efficiency on the road.
In Kent, WA, Connor Honey and the Seattle Thunderbirds (11-11-1-0) welcome Nic Petan and the Portland Winterhawks (19-4-1-0) for a U.S. Division match-up on Saturday.
The Thunderbirds are coming off a 7-4 win over the visiting Kootenay Ice on Wednesday night for their third victory over their last four games, and currently occupy fourth spot in the division. The T-Birds acquired defenceman Griffin Foulk from Everett on Friday.
The Winterhawks doubled up the visiting Kootenay Ice 4-2 on Friday night for their third win in a row and their 15th victory in 16 games, and currently sit just one point back of Kamloops for first place in the overall WHL standings. Petan scored twice on Friday for his second straight two-goal effort while stretching his point streak to seven games.
In Spokane, WA, Blake Gal and the Spokane Chiefs (16-7-0-1) take on Malte Stromwall and the Tri-City Americans (16-7-1-1) for the back half of a home-and-home series between the teams.
The Ams edged the visiting Chiefs 5-4 in overtime on Friday night in Kennewick, WA, for their fourth win in a row, and moved into sole possession of second place in the U.S. Division. Stromwall got the overtime winner as part of a three-point effort on Friday.
The Chiefs suffered their first loss in extra time on Friday night, snapping a two-game win streak, and now sit in third place in the division. Chiefs’ head coach Don Nachbaur will coach his 1,000th WHL regular-season game on Saturday night.
In Victoria, B.C., Brandon Magee and the Victoria Royals (12-12-0-0) host Ryan Hanes and the Prince George Cougars (9-11-1-3) for the second straight meeting between the B.C. Division combatants.
The Cougars edged the Royals 5-4 in Victoria on Friday night for their second straight victory, and currently sit in fourth place in the B.C. Division. Hanes scored twice on Friday night in Victoria, giving him three goals in four games since joining the Cougars.
The Royals dropped their second decision over their last three games with Friday’s setback to the Cougars, and remain in third place in the division. The Royals fell to 8-4-0 on home ice with Friday’s setback.