WHL action Feb. 2 recap

in Other News


Nick Merkley roundup0201


February 2, 2017

A busy Wednesday across the WHL saw seven games in action, with some key divisional matchups in play along the way.

In Regina, the Pats edged the Moose Jaw Warriors as the East Division continues to battle it out.

In Cranbrook, the Medicine Hat Tigers maintained their Central Division lead with a win over the Kootenay ICE, while back in Alberta the Lethbridge Hurricanes slipped past the Red Deer Rebels in overtime.

South of the border, the Tri-City Americans scored a critical win over the Everett Silvertips to close the gap near the top of the U.S. Division.

We’ve got more on the above, plus all the rest to fill in the gaps…


Calgary Hitmen (2) at Kelowna Rockets (8)
Calgary (18-23-7-2) // Kelowna (28-19-4-0)

Nick Merkley, Dillon Dube and Calvin Thurkauf recorded four points apiece as the Kelowna Rockets blasted the Calgary Hitmen by an 8-2 margin Wednesday night.

After Beck Malenstyn opened the scoring with his 22nd of the campaign, the Rockets responded with three goals – one each from Dube, Thurkauf and Merkley – to end the first period and take a 3-1 advantage into the dressing room.

Luke Coleman responded 20 seconds into the second period for the Hitmen, but this time around, the Rockets rattled off four goals before the second intermission. Nolan Foote tallied his 11th of the campaign before Merkley, Thurkauf and Dube scored in success to give Kelowna a 7-2 lead after 40 minutes.

Devante Stephens scored on a power play 59 seconds into the third period to round out the scoring.

Michael Herringer made 25 saves for his 21st victory of the season.

While Merkley, Dube and Thurkauf fueled the offense with two goals and two assists each, Kole Lind (3A), Stephens (1G-1A) and Cal Foote (2A) also contributed.

The triumph moved the Rockets to within two points, with a game in hand, of the Victoria Royals for third place in the ultra-competitive B.C. Division.



Kamloops Blazers (2) at Portland Winterhawks (4)
Kamloops (31-18-2-2) // Portland (27-21-1-2)

The Portland Winterhawks scored three unanswered goals to stake out a 4-2 win over the Kamloops Blazers Wednesday night.

Jake Gricius tied the game 2-2 before Evan Weinger scored on a breakaway to give Portland a 3-2 advantage after 40 minutes of play. Caleb Jones added some insurance midway through the third period as the Winterhawks won their fifth straight.

Collin Shirley and Luc Smith replied on the scoresheet for the Blazers, while Skyler McKenzie also notched his 32nd goal of the year for the Winterhawks.

Shane Farkas made 25 saves for his third win of the campaign.

Cody Glass (2A) and McKenzie (1G-1A) registered multipoint nights for Portland, while Quinn Benjafield (2A) did the same for Kamloops.


Everett Silvertips (1) at Tri-City Americans (5)
Everett (30-10-8-2) // Tri-City (31-20-3-0)

Hoping to chase down the Everett Silvertips for the U.S. Division lead, the Tri-City Americans claimed a much-needed 5-1 victory over their rivals Wednesday night.

The win pulled the Americans to within five points of the ‘Tips for the division lead, though Everett holds a sizable four games in hand.

Juuso Valimaki opened the scoring with his 14th goal of the season before Morgan Geekie tallied his 28th to give the Americans a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. Kyle Olson and Vladislav Lukin added to the advantage in the second period before Jake Christiansen was finally able to solve Rylan Parenteau, getting the Silvertips on the board with 2:03 to go in the middle period.

Dylan Coghlan rounded out the scoring with a power-play marker 7:24 into the third period.

Parenteau made 27 saves for his 20th win of the season.

Olson (1G-3A), Geekie (1G-2A) and Lukin (1G-1A) all recorded multipoint efforts for Tri-City.


Moose Jaw Warriors (3) at Regina Pats (4)
Moose Jaw (30-14-6-1) // Regina (35-6-6-1)

Connor Hobbs scored his 21st goal of the season with 24 seconds remaining in regulation, snapping a tie game to give the Regina Pats a 4-3 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors Wednesday night.

The Warriors and Pats went back and forth from start to finish, exchanging goals right down the last strike from Hobbs.

First, Austin Wagner notched his 22nd of the season to give the Pats a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. Tanner Jeannot’s 13th of the campaign made it a 1-1 game midway through the second period before Robbie Holmes restore the advantage for the Pats. Brett Howden sent his 26th to the back of the net to make it a 2-2 game after 40 minutes of action.

Nick Henry recorded his 22nd goal of the season 8:38 into the third period to give the Pats a 3-2 lead before Jeannot struck for the second time in the game to once again even the affair.

Tyler Brown made 30 saves for his 22nd win of the year.

Jeannot (2G) and Howden (1G-1A) collected multiple points for the Warriors, while Sam Steel (2A), Wagner (1G-1A) and Holmes (1G-1A) did the same for the Pats.



Edmonton Oil Kings (1) at Swift Current Broncos (4)
Edmonton (18-29-3-1) // Swift Current (26-17-3-5)

The Swift Current Broncos scored four unanswered goals, including a pair from Tyler Steenbergen, en route to a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings Wednesday evening.

Brett Kemp opened the scoring for the Oil Kings with his fourth goal of the season coming on a power play 6:51 into the first period. But as time rolled into the second period, the Broncos took control.

Kaden Elder’s 11th of the season 1:16 into the second period tied the game before Steenbergen struck on the power play for his 36th of the campaign with 4:50 to go in the period. Before the buzzer sounded to end the middle period, Steenbergen found the back of the net for the second time with only 22 seconds before the intermission.

Aleksi Heponiemi added his 20th of the year into an empty net in the dying seconds to round out the scoring.

Jordan Papirny made 23 saves for his 15th win of the season.

Steenbergen (2G), Heponiemi (1G-1A) and Max Lajoie (2A) managed multipoint nights for the Broncos.


Medicine Hat Tigers (6) at Kootenay ICE (2)
Medicine Hat (36-15-1-0) // Kootenay (12-33-7-1)

The Medicine Hat Tigers scored three times in a matter of 56 seconds in the third period, cruising to a 6-2 win over the Kootenay ICE Wednesday night.

Enjoying a 3-2 lead midway through the third period, the speedy Tigers used 4-on-4 hockey to their advantage in order to pad their margin. First, Matt Bradley scored his 22nd of the season to make it 4-2 with 7:16 to go in regulation. Then it was Max Gerlach striking for the second time on the evening only 37 seconds later to make it a 5-2 game. Finally, Gary Haden registered his fifth of the campaign 19 seconds after Gerlach to extend the Tigers’ advantage to 6-2.

The two Central Division rivals entered the third period tied 2-2 before James Hamblin’s 13th of the season put Medicine Hat in front 4:47 into the final period.

Michael Bullion made 23 saves for his 12th win of the season.

Kristians Rubins (2A), Hamblin (1G-2A) and Gerlach (2G-1A) helped pace the Tigers offense. Vince Loschiavo (1G_1A) and Brett Davis (1G) replied for the ICE.



Lethbridge Hurricanes (3) at Red Deer Rebels (2) – OT
Lethbridge (30-15-4-3) // Red Deer (22-21-5-3)

Giorgio Estephan scored his second goal of the game 46 seconds into overtime as the Lethbridge Hurricanes secured a 3-2 win over the Red Deer Rebels Wednesday night.

The victory served to give the ‘Cane Train points in 12 consecutive outings (10-0-1-1).

The Hurricanes forced overtime after captain Tyler Wong registered his 37th goal of the season with 2:26 remaining in regulation, tying the game 2-2.

Estephan opened the scoring with his 25th of the year 8:18 into the first period before Jared Freadrich replied to tie the game 1-1 in the second period. Brandon Hagel notched his 21st of the campaign midway through the third period as the Rebels staked out a brief lead.

Fresh upon his return from an impressive performance at the 2017 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Quebec City, Stuart Skinner made 34 saves for his 25th win of the year.

Estephan finished the evening with two goals and an assist, while defenceman Brennan Menell logged two helpers.

Michael Spacek collected two assists of his own.