WHL Power Rankings: Week 12
Time to bust out the calculators, folks.
Some previous powerhouses have slid and several underdogs are on the rise as playoff-clinching scenarios start to come into play.
1. Saskatoon Blades
1st East- 37-9-2-3
With wins over Medicine Hat (5-2), Brandon (3-1) and Lethbridge (3-1), Saskatoon is on an 8-0-1-0 run and can become the first team the clinch a playoff berth as soon as February 10.
Tempo WHL Player of the Week Egor Sidorov netted his league-leading 10th game-winning-goal of the season against Brandon and Kal Tire WHL Rookie of the Week Evan Gardner was named first star in the same match with a career-high 33-save performance.
The Blades are also rocking the best home record in the WHL (22-1-1-0) and look to continue their success at the SaskTel Centre against Prince Albert on Friday night.
2. Portland Winterhawks
1st U.S.- 34-12-2-1
Portland went 3-0-0-0 on the week while outscoring Seattle, Kelowna and Tri-City 23-4, which is, frankly, a little terrifying.
James Stefan led all skaters with four goals (including his third hat trick of the season), five assists and a plus-8 rating in three games, while goaltender Jan Špunar stopped 52 of 54 shots in his return from an injury sustained in mid-November.
The Winterhawks are 8-2-0-0 in their last 10 games and have amassed 235 goals- good for second in the CHL.
3. Moose Jaw Warriors
2nd East- 31-16-0-2
Moose Jaw defeated Prince Albert (3-1), Red Deer (6-3) and Edmonton (5-2) to sweep their homestand and improve to 9-1-0-0 in their last 10 games.
Hometown boy Atley Calvert netted his second career hat trick against the Oil Kings and Head Coach Mark O’Leary now has sole possession of second place in all-time Moose Jaw wins, passing Al Tuer with 138 wins in 261 games.
The Warriors are taking flight for a quick weekend trip to Alberta for tilts against Red Deer and Calgary this weekend. Keep your eyes peeled for WHL points leader Jagger Firkus, who is one game away from tying his Moose Jaw teammate Denton Mateychuk and Kelowna’s Andrew Cristall for the longest point in the league.
Firkus is riding a 22-game point streak that’s seen him put up 18 goals and 26 assists for 44 points.
4. Prince George Cougars
1st B.C.- 33-15-0-2
The problem with being a top team is you know you’re getting your opponent’s best game night after night.
The Cougars fell victim to the upstart Vancouver Giants 3-2 after playing catchup from the jump but followed it up with a comeback 5-3 win over Kamloops to kick off a four-game homestand.
Terik Parascak hit the 30-goal milestone against Vancouver, while WHL goal leader Zac Funk added to his impressive total by scoring his 45th and 46th of the season against the Blazers.
Prince George will host Victoria for a weekend set, with Riley Heidt set to be honoured on Friday night for setting a new points and assists record for the Cougars since the franchise moved to the Northern Capital in 1994.
5. Everett Silvertips
2nd U.S.- 33-17-1-2
Please raise your hand if you have been personally victimized by Vancouver.
Everett was dished a pair of losses by the Chiefs (6-4) and Giants (4-3) before bouncing back by scoring six unanswered goals in a 6-1 win against Wenatchee.
Dominik Rymon led the scorers with four goals and an assist for good measure.
The Silvertips are ranked ninth in this week’s CHL Top 10 and look to pile up more wins after a few days of well-earned rest.
6. Medicine Hat Tigers
1st Central- 30-16-3-1
The Tigers struck first but fell victim to Fraser Minten and Egor Sidorov as Saskatoon took a 5-2 win in the battle between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
Prince Albert edged Medicine Hat 3-2 the next night before the Tigers returned to home to cook up a 5-2 win over the Pats.
The big guns were out in full force for the victory with Gavin McKenna, Andrew Basha, Oasiz Wiesblatt and Bogdans Hodass all recording multiple points.
The Tigers now gear up to face Calgary and Red Deer in a pair of divisional weekend tilts.
7. Swift Current Broncos
3rd Central- 25-18-4-2
Swift Current is stampeding through some tough competition with points in five straight games.
Conor Geekie dispatched the Rebels (4-3) with his first hat trick in a Broncos sweater and WHL Goaltender of the Week Reid Dyck picked up the second of back-to-back shutouts in a 3-0 decision against Regina.
The Broncos’ lone setback came in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Wheat Kings, though Rylan Gould had a strong showing with two goals.
Next up, Swift Current and Saskatoon are set for a major clash on February 10 in Speedy Creek.
8. Red Deer Rebels
2nd Central- 27-16-1-6
Listen, sometimes it’s just not your week.
Red Deer spun out on a 0-3-0-1 road trip, with Kai Uchacz netting a hat trick and his 100th WHL goal in a 7-6 shootout loss to Regina.
Despite the setback, the Rebels are just three points behind Medicine Hat for first in the Central Division- and they’ll face off at Co-op Place on February 10.
9. Brandon Wheat Kings
3rd East- 25-19-5-1
After a disappointing outing last week, Brandon rose to the occasion with wins over Red Deer (4-1), Swift Current (5-4 OT) and Edmonton (7-2), with its lone loss coming against Saskatoon (3-1).
Nolan Flamand stepped up in a big way with two goals against Swift Current (including the overtime winner) and Edmonton, while adding an assist on the Wheat Kings’ lone goal against the Blades.
Carson Bjarnson also posted an impressive 2-1-0-0 week after making a league-high 103 saves on the week to go along with his 1.68 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.
10. Vancouver Giants
4th B.C.- 22-24-3-0
The Giants have surged with their best Power Rankings performance yet, putting up nailbiting wins over the B.C. Division-leading Cougars and the Silvertips.
Calgary Flames prospect Samuel Honzek earned a pair of massive goals (including the game-winner against Everett), while the WHL’s busiest goalie, Brett Mirwald, stopped 70 of 75 shots on back-to-back nights.
Vancouver is on a 5-0-1-0 run, with matches against Seattle and Wenatchee on tap this weekend.
11. Victoria Royals
2nd B.C.- 25-18-4-4
Victoria mustered a single point in a 3-2 shootout loss to Seattle before dropping the rematch 5-3 and getting shut out by Kelowna 2-0.
Five different Royals players found the back of the net on the week, while Tyson Laventure and Dawson Pasternak also added a pair of assists each.
Victoria will need to bring its best for a weekend set against the Prince George Cougars.
12. Wenatchee Wild
3rd U.S.- 27-19-4-0
It was a frustrating go for the Wild as they dropped matches to Kamloops (4-1), Everett (6-1) and Tri-City (4-1).
Evan Friesen netted the lone goal for Wenatchee in all three matches.
Wenatchee is still comfortably sitting third in the U.S. Division but looks to get the train back on the tracks with a rematch against Everett on February 9.
13. Lethbridge Hurricanes
4th Central- 24-22-3-0
Sometimes you earn the shutout, sometimes you get shutout.
Harrison Meneghin tallied his third clean sheet of the season in a 6-0 drubbing of Calgary before the Hurricanes fell to Saskatoon (3-1) and got blanked by Prince Albert (3-0).
In a triumphant return to the Saddledome, Sean Tschigerl scored a hat trick and tallied his 200th WHL point against his former team.
The ‘Canes now head east in search of their first win against the Wheat Kings this season.
14. Kelowna Rockets
3rd B.C.- 23-24-3-0
Kelowna was on the wrong end of some lopsided tilts against Portland (11-1) and Spokane (8-5) before tidying things up for a 2-0 win against Victoria.
Ethan Neutens spoiled the Winterhawks’ shutout bid with his seventh goal of the season, while rookie Hiroki Gojsic snagged his first WHL hat trick against the Chiefs and an insurance goal against the Royals.
Kelowna looks to put together a win streak in an away-and-home series against the rival Kamloops Blazers this weekend.
15. Prince Albert Raiders
4th East- 23-24-1-3
Despite stumbling against Moose Jaw (3-1), Prince Albert put together solid performances against Medicine Hat 3-2 and Lethbridge (3-0).
Max Hildebrand turned aside 18 shots from the Hurricanes to get his second shutout of the season and Brayden Dube led the squad with three goals.
Prince Albert has the daunting task of taking on the Saskatoon Blades at the SaskTel Centre on Friday night- but the Raiders will need to continue their consistent performances if they want to hang onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the East- and our final Power Rankings team is breathing down their necks.
16. Calgary Hitmen
5th Central- 21-20-6-1
Calgary flip-flopped between wins and losses with week, collecting all four points against Edmonton (6-5 OT, 8-1) while dropping a forgettable match against Lethbridge (6-0) and falling short in a special-teams battle against Regina (5-3).
2024 NHL draft-eligible Hitmen Carter Yakemchuk, Carson Wetsch and Keets Fawcett all scored a trio of goals in Calgary’s four outings, while Ben Kindel showed off his generous side with seven helpers.
Calgary’s formidable upcoming schedule includes home matches against Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw before hitting the road for a five-game road trip.