Cougars continue to dominate, Brandon on the uptick in Week 4 of the WHL Power Rankings
Powerhouse players made their mark on Week 4 of the WHL Power Rankings, but some clubs could be facing rough waters as their stars prepare to leave for IIHF World Junior Championship selection camps.
1. Prince George Cougars
1st B.C.- 21-7-0-0
The league-leading Cougars swept a Washington road trip in dominant fashion, outscoring the opposition 14-4.
WHL goals leader Zac Funk scored his first of two hat tricks this week (!!) in a 4-1 win over Tri-City, potted one against Spokane, and added his second hat trick in a 4-0 beatdown of Portland.
WHL Rookie of the Week Joshua Ravensbergen allowed just one goal in two starts, saving 30 of 31 against the Americans and shutting out the Winterhawks with a 33-save outing. Ravensbergen sits first in the league with a 1.63 goals-against average, .944 save percentage and 5 shutouts (the single-season shutout record is 13, in case you were wondering).
The Cougars will be without veteran forward Viliam Kmec, who has seven goals and 13 assists in 28 tilts this season, as he prepares to represent his native Slovakia for a third time at World Juniors.
Next up, a home-and-home series against the Victoria Royals.
2. Wenatchee Wild
1st U.S.- 19-8-3-0
What’s not to love about Wenatchee’s game right now? The Wild are 8-0-2-0 in its last ten outings, slapped Portland with back-to-back (8-3, 6-5 OT) losses and continued to fill the net with a 7-4 victory over Tri-City.
WHL Player of the Week Conor Geekie feasted on the opposition with six goals and six assists in three games.
The Strathclair, Man. product also set a franchise record with four straight goals to dispatch the Winterhawks, including the overtime winner.
Not to be outdone, Matthew Savoie added another five goals and five assists in three outings as the duo led all WHL scorers over the week.
Wenatchee will have to adapt with the star forwards packing their bags in hopes of cracking Canada’s National Junior Team roster for the upcoming World Juniors in Gothenburg, Sweden.
3. Saskatoon Blades
1st East- 19-8-1-0
Saskatoon added a pair of low-scoring wins over Spokane (2-0) and Lethbridge (3-1) to stretch their point streak to five games.
Rookie goaltender Evan Gardner earned his second shutout of the season with a 30-save effort against Spokane and sits third in the league in both goals against average (2.04) and save percentage (.928).
Austin Elliott would stand tall in net against Lethbridge, stopping 27 of 28, while Captain Trevor Wong added three assists against the Canes to sit second in the WHL with 38 helpers.
Saskatoon will also lose key pieces as Fraser Minten and Tanner Molendyk take off for Canada’s selection camp next week.
4. Moose Jaw Warriors
2nd East- 17-11-0-1
The Warriors cracked 100 goals on the season by going 2-1-0-0 this week, beating Red Deer (5-2) and Edmonton (5-1) before falling to the Rebels in a rematch (5-1).
The usual suspects had a big impact again, with Brayden Yager putting up two goals and five assists and Jagger Firkus ordering a double-double with two goals and two assists.
Captain Denton Mateyhuk’s modern franchise-record 22 game point streak is alive and well, with the blueliner collecting six assists over three games.
The Warriors will not only lose Yager, Firkus and Mateychuk to Team Canada camp, but rookie forward Andrej Tomasec is also set to suit up for Team Slovakia at the 2023 World Junior A Challenge in Truro, N.S. next week.
5. Medicine Hat Tigers
1st Central- 17-8-2-0
Medicine Hat’s five-game home point streak came to a close as the Tigers dropped a 7-3 decision to the Calgary Hitmen.
It was one of two losses on the week as the Swift Current Broncos also snagged a 5-3 tilt on home ice, but the Tigers bounced back with a 6-2 win over the Prince Albert Raiders to sit 7-3-0-0 in its last ten games.
2024 NHL Draft-eligible forward Cayden Lindstrom led his team with four goals and an assist and Oasiz Wiesblatt put up a generous six helpers.
6. Victoria Royals
2nd B.C.- 17-11-0-2
Victoria emerged victorious in three of four straight meetings with the Kamloops Blazers (6-1, 2-3, 6-1, 6-3) while closing out the week with a 5-4 win against Seattle.
Tanner Scott had three goals and four assists in three games to jump into the team scoring lead with 33 points on the season and 2023 fourth overall WHL Prospects Draft pick Keaton Verhoeff shined in his WHL debut with a plus-1 rating.
Reigning WHL Rookie of the Month Cole Reschny had an uncharacteristically quiet start to December, but still sits third in scoring among rookies with 11 goals and 15 assists in 25 games.
Next up, a pair of high-pressure tilts against the league-leading Cougars in Prince George.
7. Portland Winterhawks
3rd U.S.- 15-9-1-1
Josh Davies signed his entry-level contract with the Florida Panthers, but there weren’t many other highlights for the Winterhawks as they hit a season-high four-game losing streak. Wenatchee beat Portland 8-3 and 6-5 OT before Prince George shut them out, 4-0.
Portland’s most reliable line of Davies, Captain Gabe Klassen and James Stefan combined for three goals and six assists.
The Hawks will try to build some confidence and get back in the win column with a weekend set against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
8. Brandon Wheat Kings
4th East- 13-11-4-1
Brandon handily won both of its matchups this week against Regina (7-1) and Red Deer (5-2) to kick off an eight-game homestand and extend their win streak to three.
Brett Hyland had a hat trick against Regina- plus another goal and assist against Red Deer, while captain Nate Danielson had two goals and three assists as he prepares to head to Oakville, Ont. In hopes of snagging a Team Canada roster spot.
Carson Bjarnson also saved 32 of 33 shots in a 5-1 win over the Pats.
2023 5th overall WHL pick and Brandon native Jaxon Jacobson has been recalled and will make his debut against the Moose Jaw Warriors on December 8.
At 14 years old, Jacobson will become the youngest player to suit up for the Wheaties. He currently has 13 goals and 18 assists in 11 games in the MU18HL.
9. Everett Silvertips
2nd U.S.- 17-11-1-1
After a sensational 8-2-0-0 run that saw Everett best some of the top teams in the WHL, the Tips tumbled against the last-place Edmonton Oil Kings in a 5-3 loss.
Everett did manage to find its footing in a 3-2 shootout win over the Red Deer Rebels.
Ben Hemmerling, Teague Patton and rookie Julius Miettinen all chipped in with a goal and assist in two contests.
Everett looks to continue its winning ways in a home-and-away set against the Vancouver Giants starting on December 8.
10. Prince Albert Raiders
3rd East- 15-13-0-2
Prince Albert snatched a 4-3 shootout thriller from Swift Current before falling 6-2 to Moose Jaw and spoiling Calgary’s Teddy Bear Toss party with a 5-2 win.
Five Raiders earned a point in each game, while Sloan Stanick had two goals and the shootout winner.
Prince Albert wraps up its pre-holiday break schedule with a four-game homestand, starting December 8 when the team plays host to Calgary.
11. Red Deer Rebels
4th Central- 13-11-0-3
Red Deer’s marvelous six-game point streak may have come to an end, but the Rebels did some mighty fine work with a 2-2-0-0 week.
After getting trounced 5-2 by Moose Jaw, Red Deer got some revenge with a 5-1 victory over Medicine Hat.
Rookie Chase Wutzke earned first star, saving 21 of 22 Moose Jaw shots, while also holding the Rebels in it in a 3-2 shootout win over Everett.
Wutzke closes out the week with a 1.27 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage.
Next up, the Rebels travel to Saskatoon to battle the Blades on December 8.
12. Swift Current Broncos
2nd Central- 14-11-1-2
A pair of shootout losses helped Swift Current to earn a point in every outing this week, going 2-0-0-2.
The Broncos kicked off the week with a big 5-3 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers.
It was the Broncos’ first win in the second half of a back-to-back set of games this season and marked the first WHL win for Matthew Kieper who stopped 28 of 31.
Rylan Gould had a goal and a whopping six assists over four games, while Connor Hvidstron earned four goals and a helper.
The Broncos are preparing for a pair of big tilts against the team they just leapfrogged in the standings- the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
13. Lethbridge Hurricanes
3rd Central- 14-11-2-0
Lethbridge split games against Calgary (4-1 win) and Saskatoon (3-1 loss) at home.
The Hurricanes may be ping-ponging between wins and losses, but 2024 NHL Draft-eligible forward Miguel Marques has been remarkably consistent, adding three more goals to sit at 12 on the season.
Lethbridge is now turning its attention to a home-and-away set against Swift Current starting on December 8.
The team will be missing 2005-born forward Leo Braillard has been named to Switzerland’s National Junior Team Selection Camp for the 2024 World Junior Championship. Braillard has racked up six goals and 12 assists in 16 games since joining the Hurricanes in October.
14. Vancouver Giants
4th B.C.- 11-15-2-0
The Giants felt the wrath of Kelowna star Andrew Cristall in a 4-0 loss to start the week, but bounced back with two straight road wins over Tri-City (6-3) and Spokane (4-3).
Calgary Flames prospect Sam Honzek didn’t miss a beat as he made his season debut after rehabbing a lower-body injury, scoring twice in his debut against Tri-City and adding three assists against Spokane.
The Giants won their second consecutive road game on Sunday night, defeating the Spokane Chiefs 4-3 thanks to 39 saves from Brett Mirwald, a penalty kill that went 7-for-7, and a shorthanded game-winning-goal from defenceman Mazden Leslie.
Ty Halaburda also scored his first WHL hat trick against the Americans.
Next up, a tricky pair against the Everett Silvertips before facing the Seattle Thunderbirds and the league-leading Prince George Cougars.
15. Kelowna Rockets
3rd B.C.- 11-14-2-0
The Rockets snagged 3 of a possible 6 points, taking powerhouse Wenatchee to overtime in a 5-4 loss, blanking Vancouver 4-0, and just coming up short against Seattle, 3-2.
Andrew Cristall was all over the scoresheet with two goals and five assists- including one lamplighter and three assists against Vancouver.
The Washington Capitals prospect has five goals and nine assists on an eight-game point streak.
Kelowna continues an eight-game road trip on December. 9 with a meeting against the Regina Pats.
16. Tri-City Americans
4th U.S.- 13-12-1-1
Tri-City is in the midst of a four-game losing streak, three of which came last week.
Parker Bell, who signed his entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames in September, led the way with two goals and two assists.
The Americans’ schedule isn’t exactly easing up, either, with tilts against Seattle and Wenatchee on tap.
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