SATURDAY'S WHL MATCH-UPS

Sat Jan 5

OIL KINGS HOST GIANTS – Michael St. Croix and the Edmonton Oil Kings (26-8-2-3) welcome Cain Franson and the Vancouver Giants (11-28-0-0) in Western Hockey League action on Saturday.

The Oil Kings are coming off a 4-0 shutout win over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge on Thursday night for their third win in a row, and currently sit one point up on the Calgary Hitmen for first place in the Eastern Conference.  Edmonton’s power play is clicking at 30.1% efficiency at home this season.  St. Croix (21g-27a) leads the team with 48 points.

The Giants claimed a 5-4 win in a shootout in Red Deer over the Rebels on Friday for just their fourth win away from home all season, and currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference.  The Giants’ penalty killing unit ranks 20th in the WHL.  Franson got his 14th goal of the season on Friday night in Red Deer.

It’s the second meeting of the season between the Oil Kings and Giants.  The Oil Kings posted a 5-1 win over the visiting Giants in the first meeting on October 28th.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Eric Roy and the Brandon Wheat Kings (14-22-2-2) take on Curtis Valk and the Medicine Hat Tigers (17-20-2-1).

The Wheat Kings were blasted 10-2 in Calgary by the Hitmen on Wednesday night for their second loss in a row, and currently sit in 11th spot in the Eastern Conference.  The Wheat Kings are 7-10-1 on home ice this season.

The Tigers dropped a 3-2 decision in a shootout in Regina on Friday night, dropping them to 1-1-0-1 through three games of their East Division tour, and currently hold down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  Valk and Hunter Shinkaruk share the team scoring lead with 22 goals and 50 points apiece.

In Lethbridge, AB, Russell Maxwell and the Lethbridge Hurricanes (19-18-1-4) welcome Coda Gordon and the Swift Current Broncos (17-20-3-2) on Saturday night.

The Hurricanes are coming off a 4-0 loss to the visiting Oil Kings on Thursday night, dropping them to 5-4-0-1 over their last 10 games, and currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.  Maxwell leads the ‘Canes with 38 points this season.

The Broncos fell 4-1 to the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C., on Friday night for their third loss in a row, and remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.  The Broncos own the WHL’s third-ranked power play.

In Portland, OR, Troy Rutkowski and the Portland Winterhawks (32-5-1-0) host Reid Petryk and the Everett Silvertips (16-23-0-2) for a battle between U.S. Division combatants on Saturday.

The Winterhawks have been idle since posting a 5-0 shutout win over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds on New Year’s Eve, and have won nine straight games.  The Hawks have scored a WHL-best 172 goals this season while allowing a WHL-low 72 goals against.

The Silvertips edged the visiting Spokane Chiefs 3-2 on Friday night for their third victory over their last four games, and currently sit in eighth place in the Western Conference.  Petryk scored twice on Friday, including the winner on a penalty shot late in the third period.

In Prince Albert, SK, Jayden Hart and the Prince Albert Raiders (24-13-0-3) battle Lane Scheidl and the Regina Pats (16-21-2-2) for a match-up between East Division teams on Saturday.

The Raiders were doubled up 6-3 in Saskatoon by the Blades on Friday night for their second straight setback, but remain firmly in first place in the East Division.  Hart has scored in each of his first two games for the Raiders.

The Pats claimed a 3-2 win in a shootout over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday night to stretch their win streak to three games, and currently sit one point back of the Tigers for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.  The Pats have allowed just five goals over their last three games.

In Prince George, B.C., Caleb Belter and the Prince George Cougars (12-21-1-4) take on Zach Franko and the Kelowna Rockets (28-10-1-1) for a second straight night.

The Rockets skated to a 4-2 win over the Cougars on Friday night in Prince George, pushing their win streak to five games, and remain two points behind Kamloops for top spot in the B.C. Division.  The Rockets have scored 25 goals over their last five games.

The Cougars suffered their fourth straight defeat with Friday’s loss to the visiting Rockets, and currently sit in ninth place in the Western Conference.  The Cougars are 8-10-1-0 on home ice this season.

In Red Deer, AB, Dominik Volek and the Red Deer Rebels (22-16-2-2) take on Travis Brown and the Moose Jaw Warriors (14-19-3-4) on Saturday night.

The Rebels dropped a 5-4 decision in a shootout to the visiting Vancouver Giants on Friday night for their fourth loss in a row, and currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.  Volek made his debut for the Rebels on Friday, scoring two goals.

The Warriors are coming off Friday’s 6-1 loss in Calgary to the Hitmen for their second straight setback, and currently sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.  The Warriors were outscored 11-2 over their last two games.

In Kent, WA, Justin Hickman and the Seattle Thunderbirds (16-20-2-1) welcome Mike Aviani and the Spokane Chiefs (24-13-1-0) for a battle between U.S. Division rivals on Saturday.

The T-Birds suffered a 6-1 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday night for their ninth straight defeat, and currently hold down seventh place in the Western Conference.  The T-Birds are 8-7-1 on home ice this season.

The Chiefs fell 3-2 in Everett on Friday night, stretching their losing skid to three games, but remain in second place in the U.S. Division standings.  The Chiefs have allowed 16 goals over their last three outings.

In Victoria, B.C., Steven Hodges and the Victoria Royals (19-15-1-2) host Zach Yuen and the Tri-City Americans (22-14-1-2) for the second straight night.

The Americans claimed a 3-2 win in overtime in Victoria on Friday night for their second win in a row, and currently sit in fifth place in the Western Conference.  Friday’s victory was Tri-City’s 12th on the road this season.

The Royals suffered their second straight setback with Friday’s overtime loss to the Ams, and now trail the Ams by six points for fifth place in the conference.  Hodges has three goals over his last five games.