WHL Roundup: Barzal, T-birds punch playoff ticket

in regular season


February 27, 2017

by Taylor Rocca

A six-game Sunday slate left plenty for WHL fans to chew on coming out of a busy weekend around the league.


The Seattle Thunderbirds punched a ticket to the 2017 WHL Playoffs by defeating the Everett Silvertips, while the Kelowna Rockets roared, scoring nine goals in a win over the Spokane Chiefs.

The Victoria Royals completed a three-in-three sweep of the Vancouver Giants late Sunday night.


In Calgary, the Red Deer Rebels hammered the Hitmen to defend their third place standing in the Central Division.


Out east in Saskatchewan, the Swift Current Broncos secured their third place standing in the East Division by using overtime to defeat the Regina Pats.

Zach Sawchenko logged his second shutout of the season as the Moose Jaw Warriors knocked off the Saskatoon Blades.

Here’s how it all went down…



Vancouver Giants (2) at Victoria Royals (3)
Vancouver (19-39-2-3) // Victoria (35-23-4-1)

A power-play goal from Vladimir Bobylev only 49 seconds into the third period went on to stand as the game-winning tally as the Victoria Royals slipped past the Vancouver Giants by a 3-2 margin Sunday night.

The goal – Bobylev’s eighth of the season since returning to the Royals from Russia – completed a multipoint day for the crafty forward who now has 28 points (8G-20A) in 29 games this season.

Johnny Wesley opened the scoring for the Giants, notching his 10th of the season 3:15 into the first period. Jared Dmytriw knotted the affair midway through the second period before Dante Hannoun gave Victoria the lead only 39 seconds later.

After Bobylev made it a 3-1 game, Bartek Bison pulled the Giants back within a goal late in the third period.

Dylan Myskiw made 24 saves for his third win of the season.

In addition to Bobylev’s multipoint effort, Jack Walker also chipped in with a pair of helpers.

The win moves the Royals within four points of the Kelowna Rockets for third place in the jam-packed B.C. Division. As of Sunday evening, only 10 points separate first place from fourth place.



Everett Silvertips (1) at Seattle Thunderbirds (6)
Everett (38-13-8-2) // Seattle (40-18-3-2)

The Seattle Thunderbirds clinched a berth into the 2017 WHL Playoffs with a 6-1 win over the Everett Silvertips Sunday.

The Seattle victory also snapped a seven-game winning streak for Everett.

Mathew Barzal enjoyed a four-point day (1G-3A) to lead the charge for the Thunderbirds.

Keegan Kolesar, Luke Ormsby and Anthony Bishop all scored in the first period as Seattle took control early. Ryan Gropp added his 29th of the season 4:56 into the second period to build upon that.

Connor Dewar broke up the Seattle onslaught by registering his 11th of the season with a short-handed effort midway through the second period, but Barzal replied shortly thereafter, collecting his ninth of the campaign.

Elijah Brown rounded out the scoring in the third period.

Rylan Toth made 20 saves for his WHL-leading 33rd win of the season.

With the win, the Thunderbirds moved within one point of the Silvertips for the U.S. Division lead, though Everett has two games in hand on their regional rival.



Kelowna Rockets (9) at Spokane Chiefs (5)

Kelowna (37-21-5-0) // Spokane (25-27-6-3)

Reid Gardiner harnessed a four-point day, including two goals, as the Kelowna Rockets exploded for a 9-5 win over the Spokane Chiefs on Sunday.

Gardiner opened the scoring with his 10th of the season, igniting a five-goal first period for the visitors. Dillon Dube, Carsen Twarynski, Rodney Southam and Devante Stephens all scored before 20 minutes had elapsed and Kelowna carried a 5-0 lead into the first intermission.

The day went from bad to worse for the Chiefs as Gardiner used a power play to score his second of the day 1:11 into the second period. Then Nick Merkley capitalized on yet another man advantage to give the Rockets a commanding 7-0 lead.

Finally, Spokane broke through as Keanu Yamamoto and Hudson Elynuik scored back-to-back markers on the power play over a span of 1:50.

Southam notched his second of the day to open the third period before the Chiefs responded by rattling off three goals of their own. Alex Mowbray, Ty Smith and Riley Woods all found the back of the net to make it an 8-5 game, but Twarynski sealed it with his second of the contest.

Brodan Salmon made 21 saves for his 11th win of the season.

Merkley (1G-2A), Southam (2G), Twarynski (2G), Dube (1G-2A), Stephens (1G-3A), Gardiner (2G-2A) and Nolan Foote (2A) all enjoyed multipoint performances for the Rockets.

Ke. Yamamoto (1G-1A), Jaret Anderson-Dolan (2A), Woods (1G-1A) and Smith (1G-1A) did the same for the Chiefs.

The win moved the Rockets within one point of the Kamloops Blazers for second place in the B.C. Division. Kelowna carries one day in hand on their Interior rival.



Red Deer Rebels (7) at Calgary Hitmen (2)
Red Deer (26-28-6-4) // Calgary (24-28-8-2)

Lane Zablocki registered a two goals and an assist as the Red Deer Rebels stormed to a 7-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen Sunday afternoon.

Zablocki opened the scoring with a power-play goal that came with only 2:13 remaining in the first period. Carson Sass added to the Red Deer advantage a mere 25 seconds later. Evan Polei and Michael Spacek then scored in the second period as the Rebels took a 4-0 lead by the midpoint of the period.

Matteo Gennaro notched his 37th of the season and Jakob Stukel added his 21st of the year to get Calgary back within two goals before the second period came to a close.

Zablocki re-extended the Red Deer lead 10:06 into the third period, securing his 25th of the season with another power-play effort. Austin Glover found the back of the net 49 seconds later, hitting the 20-goal plateau and Austin Pratt rounded out the scoring with his 15th of the campaign.

Riley Lamb made 22 saves for his 13th win of the season.

Brandon Schuldaus (2A), Polei (1G-1A), Pratt (1G-1A), Zablocki (2G-1A), Spacek (1G-1A) and Adam Musil (3A) all enjoyed multipoint days for the Rebels.

The win served as a big one for the Rebels as the two points allowed Red Deer to move four points ahead of the Hitmen for third place in the Central Division. Had Calgary managed to emerge triumphant, the Rebels and Hitmen would be tied for third in the division. The Hitmen own two games in hand on the Rebels, as it stands.


Swift Current Broncos (5) at Regina Pats (4) – OT
Swift Current (31-20-4-6) // Regina (44-9-7-1)

Ryley Lindgren scored with 1:44 remaining in overtime as the Swift Current Broncos secured a 5-4 victory over the Regina Pats Sunday afternoon.

Overtime was a necessary part of the proceedings after Tyler Steenbergen used a power play to score his second goal of the afternoon and 45th of the season with only 13 seconds remaining in regulation. The Broncos actually trailed 4-2 heading into the third period, but Aleksi Heponiemi notched his 24th of the season to spark the comeback.

Austin Wagner, Nick Henry, Dawson Leedahl and Sam Steel all scored for Regina, while Kole Gable also contributed for Swift Current.

Taz Burman made 43 saves for his 13th win of the season.

With the win, the Broncos now hold a seven-point advantage and one game in hand on the Brandon Wheat Kings for third place in the East Division.


Moose Jaw Warriors (2) at Saskatoon Blades (0)
Moose Jaw (38-17-7-1) // Saskatoon (24-31-6-2)

Zach Sawchenko made 29 saves, backstopping the Moose Jaw Warriors to a sixth consecutive win with a 2-0 decision over the Saskatoon Blades Sunday afternoon.

Luka Burzan scored 10:32 into the first period, registering his 13th of the season to give Moose Jaw a 1-0 edge. Justin Almeida completed the scoring with his ninth of the campaign 10:10 into the third period.

For Sawchenko, the 29 stops were good enough for his 27th win and third shutout of the year.

The win gave the Warriors a 12-point cushion for second place in the East Division, with the Swift Current Broncos holding two games in hand sitting in third place.