Although the competition level across the Western States Hockey League is at an all-time high, week six of the 2014-2015 regular season was awfully one-sided one, with 9 of the 11 series ending in sweeps.
Below is a summary of each weekend series/game:
Wichita Jr. Thunder (4-11-0, 5th in Midwest Division) @ El Paso Rhinos (8-1-0, 1st in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in El Paso, Texas
The Wichita Jr. Thunder are much-improved but the El Paso Rhinos still have their number, sweeping their first three home games since winning the Thorne Cup Championship game in April.
Veteran forward Jiri Pestuka notched a hat-trick in the opener and Adam Vay stopped all 24 shots he faced in a 5-0 Rhinos victory.
Reinis Vitolins also had three points for El Paso, while Sebastian Borg tallied two assists. Matej Varchola stopped 39 of the 44 shots he faced in the loss.
Vitolins and Borg each had three points the next night, as El Paso won 5-2, with Wichita doing well to keep things close.
Vay faced a light night of work and stopped 16 of the 18 shots he faced, while Cooper Blaine was busy for the Jr. Thunder and stopped 28 of 33.
As they so often do, the Rhinos turned it up and scored 10 goals in the finale, winning by a score of 10-1 to complete the sweep.
Patrik Stancl led the way with four points, while five other Rhinos had three. Ryan Buttazzoni stopped 18 of 19 in net to earn his first win of the season.
Patrik Janac got the lone Wichita goal, while Cooper Blaine stopped 27 of 37 in net.
El Paso looked like its old dominant self, as the home crowds only gave them more life. They’re younger than usual and should only get better, which is scary thought.
Dallas Snipers (4-10-1, 4th in Midwest Division) @ Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers (6-0-0, 2nd in Midwest Division)
Three-game series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers have still yet to lose a game during their WSHL tenure, as they moved to 6-0-0 with a home-sweep of the Dallas Snipers.
Things were close early in the opener on Friday night but four straight third period goals enabled the Jr. Blazers to earn an 8-4 win.
Dominik Vik led the way with two goals and two assists, while four others Jr. Blazers recorded three points each. Seeing his first action of the season, Austin Kirby stopped 27 of 31 in net.
Alexander Yunanov led Dallas with two points and Renaud Gaboury was pulled while taking the loss in net.
Four straight goals once again helped OKC to a win the next night but this time, it came to begin the contest, as they won 8-3 at Cox Pavilion.
Matthew Audette and Petr Kobes each had three assists for the Jr. Blazers and Jakub Krejci stopped 22 of 25 in net.
Gaboury played a full 60 minutes for the Snipers but took the loss while stopping 28 of 36.
The Snipers held a 2-0 lead just 1:13 into Sunday’s finale on goals by Carl Sandsten and Alexander Yunanov but the Jr. Blazers stormed back for a 7-5 victory.
Audette, Kobes and Vik each had three points for OKC, while Brendan Lajoie stopped 24 of 29 in net.
Erik Svensson led Dallas with four points on the day and Drew Stuve took the loss in net.
The Jr. Blazers are off to a blazing hot start, sweeping two pretty solid hockey clubs and they are only going to get better.
The Snipers are still being plagued by inconsistency early in the season.
Las Vegas Storm (7-5-0, T-2nd in Western Division) @ Arizona Redhawks (0-9-0, 8th in Western Division)
Three-game series in Peoria, Arizona
Finishing up a grueling 12-game road stretch, the Las Vegas Storm picked up a sweep of the Arizona Redhawks and will return home with a respectable record of 7-5-0.
After a pretty even first period on Friday, the Storm turned it up in the second and scored four times en route to a 6-1 win.
Five different Las Vegas skaters recorded multiple points in the win, including leading-scorer Arrigo Burgener. Gernot Wegerer stopped all but one of the 22 shots he faced in net.
Morgan Reiner notched the lone Arizona goal of the night and Henrik Liljestrand stopped 23 of 29 in net.
The Storm jumped out to a 3-0 lead in game two and held off a couple of Arizona comeback bids for a 6-4 win.
Nikita Larionov led Las Vegas with a pair of goals and Patrik Jokela was strong in net, stopping 33 of 37.
Alex Cerda scored twice for Arizona and Reiner had two assists. Brenden Leise stopped 30 of 36 in his first start of the season.
After falling behind 2-0 in Sunday’s finale, the Redhawks scored three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead into the third.
Las Vegas came out firing in the third however and scored seven straight in a 9-3 win.
Larionov notched four points to lead the offensive charge, while Kyle Pacheco, Jiri Ryyppo and Beau Ricketts each had three for Las Vegas. Wegerer returned to the pipes and stopped 21 of 24 to get the win.
Reiner finished a strong weekend with three points for the Redhawks in the loss and Jeramy Zimick notched two goals. Liljestrand faced 43 shots in net and stopped 34.
The Storm did well to begin their WSHL tenure by going over .500 through 12 straight road games. Their reward is that they now return home and don’t hit the road again until January 16.
Arizona is the only winless team left in the league but had their opportunities this weekend. The good news is that they seem to have found a couple of scorers to lean on.
Colorado Evolution (2-12-0, 6th in Mountain Division) @ Casper Coyotes (14-3-0, 1st in Mountain Division)
Three-game series in Casper, Wyoming
The Mountain division-leading Casper Coyotes ran their win-streak to 11, as they swept the Colorado Evolution for the second time this season.
The Coyotes were dominant in the opener, outshooting the Evolution 51-20 and winning by a score of 7-0.
Defenseman Erik Stenbacka led the way with five points, while four other skaters, including leading scorer Kasper Elo, had three. Rikard Landfeldt stopped all 20 shots he faced to earn his first shutout of the season.
Maksims Resetnikovs was a bit busier at the other end for Colorado and stopped 44 of the 51 shots he faced.
Casper took a one-goal lead three separate times on Saturday but Colorado kept coming back to tie things up.
The Coyotes pulled away in the third however and scored three straight to win 8-4.
Viktor Thim had five assists for the Yotes, while Elo and Stenbacka each had four points. Alexandre Lussier stopped 15 of 19 to get the win in net.
Dmitrijs Komarnickis notched three points for Colorado and Nikita Sokov had two goals. Sergii Pysarenko stopped 46 of 54 in net.
Sokov gave Colorado their first lead of the weekend with a short-handed goal 8:28 into the finale but the Coyotes came back with six straight and 8 of the next 9 in an 8-2 victory.
Seven different Coyotes had multiple points, including Thim, who notched another three and Christoph Mutschin turned aside 20 of the 22 shots he faced.
Christopher Miller scored the other Evolution goal and Resetnikovs stopped 41 of 29 in net.
The Coyotes keep moving along and picking up wins. They are no longer a surprise and are looking all the part of a contender.
The Evolution continue to keep it close early on in games but have trouble keeping up late. They have some scorers and some goaltending but they have to find a way to start limiting chances against.
Phoenix Knights (1-10-1, 7th in Western Division) @ San Diego Gulls (7-6-0, T-2nd in Western Division)
Three-game series in Escondido, California
Bouncing back nicely after a tough weekend in Fresno, the San Diego Gulls returned home and looked solid in a sweep of the Phoenix Knights.
The Gulls exploded for 12 goals in the opener, including six in the second period alone, as they soared to a 12-3 win.
Joel Gellvear had five points, Felix Morin notched four and three other players, including Cameron Todd, had three. Ilya Alyakin was strong in net, stopping 28 of 31 in the San Diego win.
Defenseman Brennan Johnsson led the Knights with three points and Luke Stripp took the loss in net.
Things were much closer the next night but the Gulls made the most of their chances and won by a score of 8-6.
Gellvear and Nurbek Baltayev each had three points to lead San Diego and Hunter Jackson came on in relief to earn the victory in net.
Veteran forward Jordan Cullum had three points for the Knights and Rett Rook stopped 29 of 37 in net.
Phoenix held a 3-0 lead early in the second period after two from Jordan Cullum and another from Dylan Farmer but the Gulls rallied for five straight before the end of the period and held on for a 7-5 win.
Four different San Diego skaters, including Gellvear, had a pair of points in the win, while Hunter Jackson stopped 25 of 30 to earn the win in net, despite being pulled late.
Cullum, Johnsson and Robert Crisci each had two points for the Knights and Strip stopped 33 of 40 in the loss.
It’s clear the Gulls are back after an off year. They have plenty of grit and skill and should be right in the middle of the playoff hunt all season.
The Knights have dug themselves a pretty deep hole and will need to figure things out quickly.
Seattle Totems (6-7-1, 4th in Northwest Division) @ Lake Tahoe Blue (4-7-1, T-5th in Northwest Division)
Three game series in South Lake Tahoe, California
Looking much more comfortable at home after spending two straight weeks in Montana, the Lake Tahoe Blue put together their strongest weekend of the season and swept the visiting Seattle Totems.
The Blue scored four first period goals on Friday night and were able to cruise to a 7-2 win.
Julius Bauermeister had two goals while David Raus, Alexander Lobachev and Kristers Seps each recorded two points as well. Nick Bretzger was solid in net for the Blue, stopping 32 of the 34 shots he faced.
Adam Alfody and Marek Nemec scored the two goals for Seattle, while Alek Lazarski took the loss in net, playing just one period before getting pulled.
The Blue had to work a little harder the next night, as the Totems kept it close and even had a lead early on but Lake Tahoe just kept coming and skated off with a 7-3 win.
They were again led offensively by Bauermeister, Lobachev and Raus, who notched three points each, while Bretzger stopped 28 of 31 in net.
Alfody and Nemec each had two points for Seattle and Lazaraksi stopped 38 of 45 in net.
The Totems took a 3-0 first period lead in the finale but showing some fortitude, the Blue fought back to get the next five in a 5-3 victory.
Again, it was Lobachev, Bauermeister and Raus leading the way, as the trio combined for eight points. Bretzger stopped 31 of the 34 shots he faced to earn his third win of the weekend in net.
Chayse Franklin scored two goals for the Totems and leading scorer Erik Danna had two assists. Anton Vigre stopped 53 of 58 in net.
The three home victories are exactly what the Blue need to turn things around and gain some momentum.
Seattle has some offense but give up a lot of shots and have again had trouble with consistency.
Ogden Mustangs (9-7-1, T-2nd in Mountain Division) @ Colorado Jr. Eagles (4-4-3, 5th in Mountain Division)
Three-game series in Fort Collins, Colorado ***
Traveling to Colorado along with the Salt Lake City Moose, the Ogden Mustangs put together a strong weekend and picked up four out of a possible six points.
The Mustangs actually opened the weekend with a loss to the Jr. Eagles, falling 5-2 on Friday after taking a 2-0 lead.
After Edvin Johansson and Jon Mencer paced the visitors to a 2-0 lead after two periods of play, the Jr. Eagles struck for five straight in the third.
Ben Gundry led the Jr. Eagles with three assists and Scott Smoot had two. Quinn Wold stopped 26 of the 38 shots he faced for Colorado, while Andreas Pettersson stopped 31 of 36 for Ogden.
The Stangs bounced back the next night in Cheyenne, with a Craig Moore power play goal breaking a 3-3 tie early in the third period and Corey Iapalucci adding another in a 5-3 win.
Mencer and Schuyler Seyfert each had two points for Ogden, while Troy Turpin stopped 26 of 29 to earn the win in net.
Branko Oktavec, Mitchell Mueller and Jeremy Szczurek each had three points for Cheyenne. Corey Foster continues to be their workhorse in net but took the loss while stopping 32 of 37.
Traveling back down south to Fort Collins on Sunday, the Mustangs finished the weekend strong and won 5-3.
Seyfert, who now leads the team in scoring on the season, led the way with three points, while Iapalucci and David Clements each had two. Turpin faced 45 shots in net and stopped all but three in the win.
Levi Weber scored twice for Colorado in the loss and Tage Rustgi stopped 34 of 39 in net.
Ogden started the weekend with a tough one but showed some fight to come back and win on Saturday and Sunday. They can score in bunches and are starting to get everyone in on the action.
The Jr. Eagles also picked up four points on the weekend, beating Salt Lake City in overtime on Saturday and are starting to put things together.
Salt Lake City Moose (8-3-3, T-2nd in Mountain Division) @ Cheyenne Stampede (1-9-0, 7th in Mountain Division)
Three-game series in Cheyenne, Wyoming ***
The Moose also had a fruitful trip to the Centennial State and came away with five total points, to tie the rival Mustangs for second place in the Mountain Division.
Playing in Cheyenne on Friday night, the Moose were led by veteran forwards Brett Myer and Jurijs Moiseicenko, who each had three points. The Stampede fought hard the whole game but Salt Lake skated off with a 7-5 victory.
Branko Oktavec and Mitchell Mueller each had three points for the Stampede in the loss.
Ryan Gasparovic stopped 26 of 31 in net for the Moose and Corey Foster 23 of 29 for Cheyenne.
The Moose did well to force overtime on Saturday night in Fort Collins, thanks to late third period goals by Devan Beck and Myer but 4:00 into the extra period, Cade Warner won it for the host Jr. Eagles.
Levi Weber led Colorado with two assists, including one on the game-winner.
Brad Robertson stopped 29 of 33 in the Salt Lake crease and Quinn Wold 32 of 35 for Colorado.
Finishing the weekend in Cheyenne, the Moose trailed 4-2 early in the third period but stormed back with four straight goals in a 6-4 win.
Patrick O’Bryan led the Moose with five assists on the day and Gasparovic stopped 37 of 41 in net.
Craig Thurston and Branko Oktavec each had two points for the Stampede and Donovan Roy stopped 32 of 38 in net.
The Moose fought hard all weekend and five points is a good showing for a tough road trip.
Cheyenne is off to a tough start and can’t afford to let games slip away late.
Tulsa Jr. Oilers (1-4-0, 6th in Midwest Division) @ Springfield Express (6-2-0, T-2nd in Midwest Division)
Two-game series in Springfield, Missouri
The Springfield Express got a stiff test from the Tulsa Jr. Oilers in a quick two-game set but won each by a single goal.
The Express jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opener but the Jr. Oilers showed some fight and made things close in a 4-3 loss.
Quade Hamlin assisted on all four Springfield goals and Vito DeVito had three points. Philip Babb stopped 30 of 33 in net.
Richard Novodomec had two points for Tulsa, while Michal Marcinek stopped 29 of 33 in net.
Springfield outshot Tulsa heavily in game two but the Jr. Oilers kept it interesting again, eventually falling by a score of 3-2.
Nikita Pervyakov, DeVito and David Higgs scored the goals for Springfield, while Oliver Eklund stopped 25 of 27 in net.
Maksim Chegrintcev led Tulsa with two points and Teke Murphy stopped 43 of 46.
Springfield hasn’t been hampered by a light early season schedule, as they’ve gone 6-2-0 over eight games that have been widely spaced apart. They have plenty of talent but will take to the road soon to test their mettle.
Tulsa is vastly improved thanks to the acquisition of a number of talented import players. They have shown the ability to compete early on and should only gel further.
Missoula Maulers (9-4-0, 3rd in Northwest Division) @ Whitefish Wolverines (4-12-1, T-5th in Northwest Division)
Two-game series in Whitefish, Montana
The Missoula Maulers and Whitefish Wolverines met for the first-time over the weekend and it was the veteran club winning both games, as the Maulers dominated both road contests.
Sawyer Jacobson had two goals and an assist in the opener and the Maulers pulled away with four goals in the third in a 6-0 shutout victory.
Corey Schafer, Austin Azzinnaro and Sam Sevcik each added two points for the Maulers, while Aron Holmgren stopped all 27 shots he faced in net.
Brendan Schultz stopped 39 of 45 for Whitefish.
The Maulers slung 60 shots on net the next night and rolled to a 10-1 victory.
14 of the 18 Missoula skaters recorded at least one point on the night, with Alex Shalamov and Tanner Todd each notching three. Noah Parker stopped all but one of the 25 shots he faced in net.
Bryan Polmear notched the lone Whitefish goal and Joakim Hidestrand took the loss in net while playing just over 30 minutes.
Missoula is now on a roll after a bit of a slow start. They continue to grind it out and are back to their strong defensive style.
Whitefish has started slow and have trouble keeping shot totals down.
Ontario Avalanche (5-2-1, 5th in Western Division) vs. Long Beach Bombers (7-2-0, 2nd in Western Division)
Home-at-home series played Friday in Lakewood and Sunday in Ontario, California
The Long Beach Bombers continue to score in droves and have now won six straight after sweeping a home-at-home set with the rival Ontario Avalanche.
The Bombers opened up with a 6-1 win on Friday night, with Johan Beatty and Amir Burguev each notching three points.
Tomas Nemeth, Casper Faltskog and Michael Sjolin each added two points for the Bombers, while Dennis Tschudi stopped 34 of 35 in net.
Michael Thomas scored the lone Ontario goal and former Bomber Daniel Cepila stopped 18 of 24 in net.
Playing Sunday at the Citizens Business Back Arena, home of the ECHL’s Ontario Reign, the held a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes of play.
The Bombers exploded in the third however and came back to win 6-4.
Nemeth and Patrik Johansson each had three points for Long Beach, while Tschudi stopped 40 of 44 in another strong effort in net.
Thomas, Antoine Maillard and Zechariah Roberts each had two points for Ontario. Chris Skeates stopped 22 of the 27 shots he faced in net.
This was a statement weekend for the Bombers, who are out to prove they’re one of the Western Division’s best.
Ontario has slowed down a bit after a hot start. They just need to get back to basics and focus on the fundamentals.
Hockey Wolf Three Stars of the Week
1. Joel Gellvear (Forward, San Diego Gulls)- The San Diego Gulls are doing well to put the 2013-2014 season behind them and are right back in the thick of things in the tough Western Division. Their much-improved offense has been key in the comeback and former Wichita Jr. Thunder forward Joel Gellvear now leads the team with 16 points on the season, after notching 10 in a weekend sweep of the Phoenix Knights.
2. Alexander Lobachev (Forward, Lake Tahoe Blue)- Playing his first weekend with the team, Alexander Lobachev had a huge impact for the Lake Tahoe Blue. The Russian forward slid right in on the top line and notched eight points, as the Blue picked up a weekend sweep of the Seattle Totems.
3. Dominik Vik (Forward, Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers)- The Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers have begun their WSHL tenure with six straight victories and forward Dominik Vik has played a huge part in it. The Czech forward picked up nine points in a weekend sweep of Dallas and looked dominant playing alongside fellow countryman Petr Kobes.
Honorable Mentions: Matthew Audette (Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers), Petr Kobes (Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers), Morgan Reiner (Arizona Redhawks), Nikita Larionov (Las Vegas Storm), Erik Stenbacka (Casper Coyotes), Kasper Elo (Casper Coyotes), Viktor Thim (Casper Coyotes), Felix Morin (San Diego Gulls), Brennan Johnsson (Phoenix Knights), Adam Alfody (Seattle Totems), Julius Bauermeister (Lake Tahoe Blue), Nick Bretzger (Lake Tahoe Blue), Reinis Vitolins (El Paso Rhinos), Sebastian Borg (El Paso Rhinos), Schuyler Seyfert (Ogden Mustangs), Levi Weber (Colorado Jr. Eagles), Branko Oktavec (Cheyenne Stampede), Brett Myer (Salt Lake City Moose), Vito DeVito (Springfield Express), Tomas Nemeth (Long Beach Bombers)