TUESDAY'S WHL MATCH-UPSMar 05, 2013 - 02:46 MST
BLADES BATTLE HITMEN – Josh Nicholls and the Saskatoon Blades (41-21-1-3) host Cody Sylvester and the Calgary Hitmen (40-20-1-4) for a battle between top Eastern Conference Clubs in Western Hockey League action on Tuesday.
The Blades are coming off Sunday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Warriors in Moose Jaw, snapping their 18-game winning streak but moving them one point ahead of Calgary for second place in the overall Eastern Conference standings. The Blades are 20-11-0-2 at home this season, and haven’t lost at home since January 23rd. Nicholls leads the Blades with 41 goals this season.
The Hitmen suffered a 5-2 defeat to the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Sunday for their fourth consecutive loss, but remain firmly in second place in the Central Division. The Hitmen are 21-11-0-1 on the road this season, but dropped their last two road games by a combined score of 10-3. Sylvester boasts a team-leading 33 goals this season.
It’s the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the Hitmen and Blades. Saskatoon won all three previous meetings, including a 3-2 shootout win in Calgary last Wednesday.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Adam Lowry and the Swift Current Broncos (31-28-3-4) take on Josh Morrissey and the Prince Albert Raiders (35-24-2-4) for an East Division battle.
The Broncos were shut out 3-0 in Red Deer on Saturday night, putting to rest a three-game winning streak, and currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Broncos’ power play is clicking at 24.1% efficiency at home this season.
The Raiders dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night after having won their previous two outings, and currently sit two points back of Red Deer for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Raiders can clinch a playoff spot by gaining one more point or by Lethbridge dropping one more point.
In Red Deer, AB, Matt Dumba and the Red Deer Rebels (36-24-4-2) take on Sam Reinhart and the Kootenay Ice (33-30-2-0) for an important Central Division match-up on Tuesday.
The Rebels blanked the visiting Swift Current Broncos on Saturday night for their second win in a row, and currently occupy fourth spot in the conference. Rebels’ netminder Patrik Bartosak turned in a 52-save performance to claim the shutout on Saturday versus the Broncos.
The Ice doubled up the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers 4-2 on Saturday night for their sixth victory over their last seven games, and currently hold a six-point lead over Lethbridge for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Reinhart leads the Ice in scoring with 30 goals and 72 points.
In Prince George, B.C., Marc McNulty and the Prince George Cougars (18-38-2-6) host Connor Rankin and the Tri-City Americans (39-23-1-2) for the second straight night.
The Americans downed the Cougars 6-3 on Monday night for their second win in a row, and moved back into fourth place in the Western Conference – one point up on Spokane. The Ams need one more win to hit the 40-win mark for a seventh straight season, which would match the WHL record.
The Cougars suffered their fifth straight defeat with Monday’s loss to the Ams, and remain eight points back of Seattle and Everett for a playoff spot in the conference. The Cougars have given up 28 goals over their last five games.
In Portland, OR, Ty Rattie and the Portland Winterhawks (51-12-1-2) welcome Kohl Bauml and the Everett Silvertips (23-37-2-4) for a U.S. Division battle on Tuesday.
The Winterhawks are coming off Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Silvertips in Everett for their third straight setback, but remain firmly in first place in the Western Conference. Rattie is one point shy of hitting the 100-point mark for a second consecutive season.
The Silvertips suffered a 1-0 overtime loss to the Giants in Vancouver on Sunday for their third defeat over their last four games, and currently sit tied with Seattle for seventh place in the Western Conference. The ‘Tips are 11-19-2-0 on the road this season.
In Kamloops, B.C., Colin Smith and the Kamloops Blazers (44-18-2-3) take on Brandon Magee and the Victoria Royals (32-26-2-4) for a B.C. Division match-up on Tuesday.
The Blazers shut down the visiting Kelowna Rockets 3-0 on Sunday for their third win in a row, and now sit just three points back of the Rockets for first place in the B.C. Division. The Blazers boast a 25-6-1-1 record at home this season.
The Royals suffered back-to-back losses to the visiting Spokane Chiefs on the weekend, running their losing skid to nine games, but remain in sixth place in the Western Conference. Magee has 29 goals and 57 points this season for Victoria.