WHL Eastern And Western Conference Mid-Season Review

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whl

Cory Flett

Calgary, AB — The 2011-12 Western Hockey League season is at the midway point with teams having played roughly half of their regular season schedules, and it’s time to take a look at how the season has shaped up so far.

In the WHL Eastern Conference, the top teams have started to separate themselves from the pack while a number of Clubs remain in the thick of the race for playoff spots. Can the Edmonton Oil Kings continue their run at the top of the Central Division and Eastern Conference standings? Can the Moose Jaw Warriors maintain top spot in the East Division? Who will battle their way into a playoff spot down the stretch? These questions will be answered through the second half of the 2011-12 WHL season.

In the Western Conference, the competition has been fierce, with all 10 teams still very much in playoff contention. Can the Tri-City Americans continue their dominance in the U.S. Division and Western Conference? Will the Kamloops Blazers maintain their outstanding form through the second half? Which teams will book their ticket to the playoffs in the Western Conference? These questions shall be answered through the 2011-12 WHL season’s second half.

Here’s a look at the WHL’s Eastern Conference teams through the 2011-12 season’s first half:

WHL EASTERN CONFERENCE

East Division

Brandon Wheat Kings

2011-12 record: 36gp 20-14-1-1, 42pts (2nd in Div., 5th in Conf.) GF: 149 GA: 130

Top Scorers:

Mark Stone 33gp-27g-38a-65pts

Michael Ferland 32gp-18g-28a-46pts

Brenden Walker 33gp-13g-22a-35pts

The high-octane Wheat Kings have shown they can score goals this season. The team has scored a WHL-best 149 goals this season and has boasted the League’s second-ranked power play through the first half of the season. Five Wheat Kings have averaged at least a point per game while seven have already hit the 30-point mark for the season. Led by Mark Stone, the WHL’s leading point-getter, offense will not be an issue over the second half. Defensively, the Wheat Kings will look to tighten up as they have given up the fourth-most goals in the Eastern Conference. Super sophomores Ryan Pulock and Eric Roy have proven invaluable to the Wheat Kings’ offense, and will look to help the team buckle down defensively over the season’s second half.

Moose Jaw Warriors

2011-12 record: 35gp 22-9-3-1, 48pts (1st in Div., 2nd in Conf.) GF: 121 GA: 103

Top Scorers:

Quinton Howden 20gp-14g-15a-29pts

Sam Fioretti 35gp-12g-17a-29pts

Andrew Johnson 34gp-10g-16a-26pts

The Warriors headed into the break playing some of their best hockey, going 4-0-1 over their last five games and 7-1-1-1 over their last 10 outings to close out the first half of the season in first place in the division. What’s impressive is that the Warriors have been able to find success despite many of their top players missing significant time. Quinton Howden, Dylan McIlrath, Joel Edmundson and Cody Beach have all been absent for lengthy periods due to injury or suspension, and sophomore Morgan Rielly is likely done for the season. Yet, the team has gotten significant contributions from names like Sam Fioretti and Brett Lyon. Justin Kirsch has chipped in over a point per game since coming to the Warriors from Calgary, while rookies like Carter Hansen and Eric Arnold have made their mark, too. Goaltending has been strong with Luke Siemens carrying the load. Solid special teams have also helped the Warriors, with both their power play and penalty killing unit ranking sixth in the WHL. The Warriors play 23 of their remaining 37 games on the road.

Prince Albert Raiders

2011-12 record: 38gp 12-22-1-2, 29pts (6th in Div., 12th in Conf.) GF: 118 GA: 147

Top Scorers:

Justin Maylan 38gp-18g-28a-46pts

Mark McNeill 35gp-16g-20a-36pts

Brandon Herrod 38gp-15g-18a-33pts

The Raiders enjoyed a strong finish to the first half of the 2011-12 season, posting a 7-3-0-1 record over their final 11 contests. However, that doesn’t make up for the 5-19-1-1 record they posted in their first 26 games. Offense has come from the likes of Justin Maylan, Mark McNeill, Brandon Herrod, Kellan Tochkin and Mike Winther, who have combined for 75 of the team’s 115 goals. Acquiring Anthony Bardaro, the Spokane Chiefs’ leading scorer, should help the Raiders spread out the offense over the second half of the season. Defensively, only the Lethbridge Hurricanes have allowed more goals than the Raiders. Improving their defensive play and their penalty killing will certainly help over the second half. Currently 10 points adrift in the race for a playoff spot, the Raiders will need to maintain their level of play from their last 11 outings throughout the second half of the season if they are to make a playoff push.

Regina Pats

2011-12 record: 37gp 19-15-2-1, 41pts (4th in Div., 7th in Conf.) GF: 117 GA: 115

Top Scorers:

Jordan Weal 36gp-20g-34a-54pts

Brandon Davidson 37gp-8g-21a-29pts

Chandler Stephenson 33gp-14g-13a-27pts

The Pats got off to a great start to the season, winning 10 of their first 16 games through the end of October. After a November record of 3-6-1-1, the Pats picked it up again in December with a 6-3-1 record in 10 games leading up to the break. As usual, Jordan Weal has been the offensive leader for the Pats, factoring in on 54 of the team’s 117 goals. Aside from Weal, Chandler Stephenson, Lane Scheidl and rookie Morgan Klimchuk have also made solid offensive contributions, as has defenseman Brandon Davidson. The biggest improvement for the Pats has been the defensive play. The team has allowed 52 fewer goals this season than they did last year at the midway point, while improving their penalty killing as well. Davidson and fellow veteran Brandon Underwood lead a defense corps that is a combined +37 among the everyday rearguards. The Pats will benefit from playing 22 of their final 35 games at home. If the Pats continue with the consistency they have shown over the first half, they could very well end their three-year playoff absence.

Saskatoon Blades

2011-12 record: 35gp 20-15-0-1, 41pts (3rd in Div., 6th in Conf.) GF: 121 GA: 130

Top Scorers:

Matej Stransky 34gp-17g-19a-36pts

Josh Nicholls 30gp-20g-15a-35pts

Jesse Paradis 36gp-9g-20a-29pts

The Blades started the season looking much like the defending Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy winners they are, winning seven of their first eight games and 18 of their first 25 contests, including 10 straight home games to start the season. However, the team struggled to just two wins over its final 10 games before the break, and now sits seven points back of Moose Jaw for the division lead. Having lost top goal scorer Josh Nicholls to injury has hampered the Blades’ offense. However, their defensive play has contributed to their recent woes, with the team having given up at least four goals in eight of their last 10 outings. Russian netminder Andrey Makarov has struggled lately after a strong start to the season. If he can regain his early-season form, the Blades should see more wins over the second half of the season.

Swift Current Broncos

2011-12 record: 37gp 14-18-2-3, 33pts (5th in Div., 10th in Conf.) GF: 115 GA: 146

Top Scorers:

Taylor Vause 37gp-21g-23a-44pts

Adam Lowry 36gp-12g-25a-37pts

Coda Gordon 33gp-15g-18a-33pts

The Broncos have played exactly half of their regular-season schedule, and currently find themselves five points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Broncos’ inability to string together a series of wins has held them back through the first half. The team has only twice managed to win three straight games, but have endured five three-game losing skids. Offensively, the Broncos have gotten strong contributions from veterans Taylor Vause and Adam Lowry, while rookie Coda Gordon has impressed with his point production. Boasting the WHL’s fourth-ranked power play has also helped. Defensively, only Lethbridge has a higher goals-against average than the Broncos, while their penalty killing ranks 22nd in the WHL. Tightening up their defensive game will go a long way to helping the Broncos get back into the post-season race.

Central Division

Calgary Hitmen

2011-12 record: 35gp 17-15-2-1, 37pts (4th in Div., 8th in Conf.) GF: 124 GA: 117

Top Scorers:

Cody Sylvester 32gp-13g-24a-37pts

Victor Rask 34gp-16g-13a-29pts

Jimmy Bubnick 35gp-13g-15a-28pts

The Hitmen have enjoyed a much better first half to the season than they did last year en route to finishing 22nd in the WHL. Although they started slow this season, the Hitmen managed to climb back into the post-season race. Offensively, the Hitmen have scored the fourth-most goals in the Eastern Conference. Cody Sylvester and rookie Victor Rask have led a balanced offense that boasts six players with at least 11 goals and eight players with 20 or more points. In addition, the Hitmen have improved on the defensive side as well, particularly their penalty killing unit. Veteran goaltender Brandon Glover has enjoyed stretches of stellar play while sophomore Chris Driedger has also enjoyed some strong efforts. If they can keep up their much-improved play, expect the Hitmen to be right in the mix for a playoff berth this year after missing the post-season last year for the first time since 1997.

Edmonton Oil Kings

2011-12 record: 36gp 24-9-1-2, 51pts (1st in Div., 1st in Conf.) GF: 150 GA: 95

Top Scorers:

Michael St. Croix 36gp-19g-36a-55pts

Dylan Wruck 36gp-13g-33a-46pts

T.J. Foster 33gp-16g-22a-38pts

The Oil Kings have lived up to their lofty expectations this season, posting their best first-half record in modern franchise history, and are enjoying life at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Offensively, the Oil Kings have hit their stride over the past month, scoring a whopping 62 goals over the course of a franchise-record 10-game win streak. Michael St. Croix has been dominant for an Oil Kings team that boasts eight players with 10 or more goals this season. The addition of veteran sniper Tyler Maxwell added yet another weapon to an already potent attack. Defensively, the Oil Kings have been equally strong, currently boasting the third-best goals-against in the WHL. Led by veteran Mark Pysyk, the Oil Kings’ defense corps has combined for 25 goals and a +81 rating this season. Goaltender Laurent Brossoit has provided consistent quality minutes in the Oil Kings’ net. Based on their dominant first half, expect the Oil Kings to be among the top contenders come playoff time.

Kootenay Ice

2011-12 record: 35gp 22-10-1-2, 47pts (2nd in Div., 3rd in Conf.) GF: 117 GA: 84

Top Scorers:

Max Reinhart 31gp-16g-23a-39pts

Jesse Ismond 34gp-11g-23a-34pts

Sam Reinhart 34gp-10g-21a-31pts

The defending WHL Champions have enjoyed a strong start to the season, posting the third-best record in the Eastern Conference at the break. Offensively, the Ice have managed to get by, but have scored the fewest number of goals of any team in a playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Max Reinhart has been consistent in hitting the score sheet, while younger brother Sam Reinhart currently leads all 16-year-old rookies in scoring. Defense has been Kootenay’s bread and butter this season. The team has allowed the fewest goals in the WHL and boasts the third-ranked penalty killing unit. Joey Leach and John Niebrandt head up a defense corps that owns a combined +47 rating. Goaltending has been strong, with veteran Nathan Lieuwen leading all WHL netminders with a 2.12 GAA and ranking second with a solid .926 save percentage.

Lethbridge Hurricanes

2011-12 record: 38gp 14-23-0-1, 29pts (6th in Div., 11th in Conf.) GF: 112 GA: 159

Top Scorers:

Cam Braes 38gp-20g-16a-36pts

Brody Sutter 34gp-16g-15a-31pts

Nick Buonassisi 36gp-10g-14a-24pts

The ‘Canes endured an awful start to the 2011-12 season, winning just three of their first 22 games, and quickly found themselves well out of playoff contention by mid November. However, the Hurricanes have turned their fortunes around, lately, posting a solid 11-4 record over their final 15 contests before the break. The question is: What Hurricanes team will hit the ice over the second half of the season? The one that lost 13 straight games in October? Or, the one that won four straight and eight of ten to close out the first half of the season? With veterans like Cam Braes and Brody Sutter leading the way, and with veteran goaltender Damien Ketlo playing well, the recent incarnation of the ‘Canes have shown they can win, and could play their way into the post-season mix. However, they still have a lot of ground to make up after their poor start.

Medicine Hat Tigers

2011-12 record: 37gp 21-12-2-2, 46pts (3rd in Div., 4th in Conf.) GF: 134 GA: 105

Top Scorers:

Emerson Etem 34gp-30g-31a-61pts

Hunter Shinkaruk 37gp-30g-18a-48pts

James Bettauer 39gp-14g-14a-28pts

The Tigers find themselves in familiar territory after the first half of the season. A perennial top team, the Tigers currently sit third place in the Central Division, and within striking distance of the division lead. Much of the Tigers’ success can be attributed to their dynamic duo of Emerson Etem and Hunter Shinkaruk. Both players are among the top three goal scorers in the League, each with 30 markers so far. Yet, aside from defenseman James Bettauer, no other Tiger has hit the 10-goal mark. Defensively, the Tigers have been strong, boasting the Eastern Conference’s fourth-lowest goals-against. Veteran Matt Konan leads a defense corps that is a combined +54 this season. Goaltender Tyler Bunz has been steady, as usual, and ranks among the top WHL netminders in GAA, save percentage and wins.

Red Deer Rebels

2011-12 record: 36gp 16-17-0-3, 35pts (5th in Div., 9th in Conf.) GF: 106 GA: 113

Top Scorers:

John Persson 35gp-13g-23a-36pts

Colten Mayor 36gp-11g-17a-28pts

Turner Elson 29gp-14g-12a-26pts

It’s been a first half of highs and lows for the Red Deer Rebels. Last season’s Central Division champions were dealt a blow when the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers decided to keep superstar Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Yet, losing their best skater to the NHL didn’t deter the Rebels from rolling to a 14-4-0-1 record out of the gate. Players like John Persson, Colten Mayor, Turner Elson, Adam Kambeitz and Matt Dumba all chipped in to fill the offensive void left by the prodigal RNH. However, injuries to several of their key players contributed to the Rebels going through one of their toughest stretches in franchise history as they suffered through a 13-game losing skid in November and December and plummeted down the Eastern Conference standings. Rookie goaltender Patrik Bartosak, who enjoyed such a tremendous start to the season, is now sidelined which has impacted the Rebels’ normally stingy defense. When able to ice their full line-up, the Rebels have shown they can be a top team in the Eastern Conference.

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Here’s a look at the WHL’s Western Conference teams through the 2011-12 season’s first half:

WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE

B.C. Division

Kamloops Blazers

2011-12 record: 35gp 24-9-1-2, 51pts (1st in Div., 2nd in Conf.) GF: 146 GA: 109

Top Scorers:

Brendan Ranford 33gp-19g-34a-43pts

Colin Smith 36pg-19g-21a-40pts

JC Lipon 36gp-13g-22a-35pts

The Blazers are, perhaps, the WHL’s most improved team over the first half of the season. Missing the playoffs after posting just 29 wins last season, the Blazers have already piled up 24 wins through their first 35 games of the 2011-12 campaign, and currently find themselves leading the B.C. Division and battling for first place in the WHL standings. A talented and balanced group of forwards have helped the Blazers to the WHL’s third-best offense. Led by veterans Brendan Ranford and Colin Smith, the team has also gotten consistent contributions from the likes of Dylan Willick, JC Lipon and rookie Tim Bozon. Owning the WHL’s fifth-ranked power play has also helped the Blazers’ offense. Defensively, the Blazers are vastly improved, having shaved off 41 goals from this time last year. Austin Madaisky leads a Blazers’ defense corps that is a combined +62 this season, and boasts a much improved penalty killing success rate. Rookie goaltender Cole Cheveldave has been a revelation for the team, having posted 16 wins through 24 appearances this season. If the Blazers continue their strong play through the second half, they will garner mention among the contenders, heading into the playoffs.

Kelowna Rockets

2011-12 record: 36gp 14-17-2-3, 33pts (4th in Div., 6th in Conf.) GF: 113 GA: 126

Top Scorers:

Shane McColgan 35gp-10g-26a-36pts

Brett Bulmer 19gp-14g-14a-28pts

Colton Sissons 36gp-20g-7a-27pts

Featuring one of the youngest lineups in the WHL, the Rockets have had their ups and downs through the first half of the 2011-12 WHL regular season. After winning their first three games of the season, the Rockets went on to drop the next six game and 13 of their next 15 outings, putting them behind in the post-season chase. Yet, with a 9-5-1-2 record leading into the break, it appears the Rockets are rounding into form. Veteran Shane McColgan and Sophomore Colton Sissons have led the way offensively while the return of Brett Bulmer from the NHL has added another strong offensive and two-way presence among the team’s forwards. Veteran Kevin Smith has led a young defense corps that has struggled at times, but has plenty of upside and should keep improving as the season goes on. Goaltenders Adam Brown and Jordon Cooke have also endured ups and downs. However, both have the talent to provide as good a goaltending duo as there is in the WHL.

Prince George Cougars

2011-12 record: 35gp 12-21-0-2, 26pts (5th in Div., 9th in Conf.) GF: 85 GA: 114

Top Scorers:

Alex Forsberg 35gp-11g-15a-26pts

Troy Bourke 35gp-8g-17a-25pts

Cody Carlson 35gp-4g-20a-24pts

The Cougars find themselves in fifth place in the B.C. Division at the break after a tough first half of the season. A struggling offense has hampered the Cougars, who lost their top scorer, Brett Connolly, to the NHL this year. With a 16-year-old rookie, Alex Forsberg, pacing the team in scoring, the Cougars have managed the second lowest goals-per-game average in the WHL and have seen their power play struggle to a WHL-low 12.9% success rate. Defensively, the Cougars boast the fifth-lowest goals-against in the Western Conference. Cody Carlson has been consistent on the back end, but the Cougars would benefit greatly if Martin Marincin could rediscover his dominant form from last year. Goaltender Drew Owsley has been a workhorse for the Cougars in net, but will need more offensive support over the second half. Despite their struggles, the Cougars remain in striking distance for a playoff spot in the conference. A few more home-ice wins could spark a rise in the standings over the second half.

Vancouver Giants

2011-12 record: 37gp 23-12-1-1, 48pts (2nd in Div., 3rd in Conf.) GF: 134 GA: 108

Top Scorers:

Brendan Gallagher 28gp-24g-22a-46pts

Marek Tvrdon 33gp-14g-23a-37pts

Cain Franson 37gp-14g-21a-35pts

After losing their B.C. Division title for the first time in five years last year, the Giants appear determined to regain their spot at the top of the division with their first-half performance. As usual, Brendan Gallagher has been a force for the Giants, racking up 24 goals in 28 games. Yet, it’s been the play of second-year players like Marek Tvrdon, Cain Franson and Jordan Martinook that have bolstered the Giants attack. David Musil and Neil Manning have made offensive contributions while also helping the Giants maintain the second-best defense in the Western Conference and the fifth-ranked penalty killing unit in the WHL. While goaltending was a question mark at the start of the season, it is not an issue anymore thanks to the play of early-season acquisition Adam Morrison. The 20-year-old netminder has been terrific in goal for the Giants, and leads all WHL goalies with 21 wins. The Giants will have to battle hard to overtake a strong Kamloops team if they are to capture their sixth B.C. Division title in seven years.

Victoria Royals

2011-12 record: 37gp 13-20-2-2, 30pts (4th in Div., 7th in Conf.) GF: 127 GA: 181

Top Scorers:

Kevin Sundher 35gp-21g-34a-55pts

Logan Nelson 37gp-14g-22a-36pts

Robin Soudek 33gp-17g-17a-34pts

The Royals have endured some difficulties through 37 games in their first season since moving to Victoria from Chilliwack. After winning 10 of their first 18 games through the start of November, the Royals’ fortunes took a tumble as they posted just three of their next 19 contests going into the Christmas break. Offensively, the Royals have shown they can score. Kevin Sundher is among the WHL’s scoring leaders while rookie Logan Nelson has been impressive in the offensive zone through the season’s first half. Defensively, however, the Royals have struggled, allowing the most goals of any team in the WHL. Hayden Rintoul and the Royals’ defense corps currently own a combined -103 rating, which will need to be improved if the team wants to make a strong push up the standings over the second half. Goaltender Keith Hamilton has faced the fourth highest number of shots of any WHL goalie this season. Defensive improvements will be key for the Royals over the second half.

U.S. Division

Everett Silvertips

2011-12 record: 34gp 6-21-1-6, 19pts (5th in Div., 10th in Conf.) GF: 80 GA: 139

Top Scorers:

Josh Birkholz 32gp-14g-15a-29pts

Cody Fowlie 34gp-6g-12a-18pts

Ryan Harrison 32gp-8g-8a-16pts

The Silvertips have struggled in what is a rebuilding year for the club. At the season’s midway point, the ‘Tips find themselves 10 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference and in 22nd place in the overall WHL standings. Having traded their all-time leading goal scorer, Tyler Maxwell, the ‘Tips have struggled to generate offence this season. Josh Birkholz has put up nearly a point per game, but is the only player on the ‘Tips to have cracked the 10-goal mark this season. On the back end, a young Silvertips’ defense corps has had to deal with missing their best player, Ryan Murray, for much of the first half. Kent Simpson has faced the third-most shots of any WHL goaltender through his 28 appearances for the ‘Tips, posting a .907 save percentage. Simspon will need to remain strong if the ‘Tips are to make their way up the standings over the second half of the season.

Portland Winterhawks

2011-12 record: 35gp 21-11-2-1, 45pts (2nd in Div., 4th in Conf.) GF: 148 GA: 123

Top Scorers:

Ty Rattie 33gp-33g-29a-62pts

Sven Bartschi 25gp-12g-42a-54pts

Brad Ross 34gp-22g-20a-42pts

The defending Western Conference champions find themselves battling for first place in the U.S. Division and Western Conference standings at the season’s midway point. A powerful offense, led by the WHL’s leading goal scorer Ty Rattie, has propelled the Hawks through the first half of the season. Boasting the League’s best power play, the Hawks have scored a whopping 148 goals through 35 games. While Rattie, Sven Bartschi, Brad Ross and Joe Morrow have carried much of the offensive load, more will be needed from secondary sources like Brendan Leipsic, Oliver Gabriel and Dillon Wagner if the Hawks are to keep pace with the Western Conference leaders. As good as they have been offensively, the Hawks have given up the most goals of any team among the WHL’s top 10. Morrow, Derrick Pouliot and Troy Rutkowski will need to help tighten up the defense corps over the season’s second half.

Seattle Thunderbirds

2011-12 record: 31gp 13-17-0-1, 27pts (4th in Div., 8th in Conf.) GF: 82 GA: 120

Top Scorers:

Burke Gallimore 32gp-15g-10a-25pts

Marcel Noebels 26gp-9g-12a-21pts

Chance Lund 32gp-9g-10a-19pts

The Thunderbirds may be four games under the .500 mark at the season’s midway point, yet they currently sit in good position to make the post-season. Creating offense has been difficult for the T-Birds this season, with only Burke Gallimore having scored more than 10 goals. Getting Colin Jacobs back from injury should help the Thunderbirds’ offense over the season’s second half and should help improve their 20th-ranked power play. Defensively, the T-Birds find themselves in the middle of the Western Conference pack in goals-against. A struggling penalty killing unit has not benefitted the T-Birds’ defensive games. Goaltender Calvin Pickard continues to be a workhorse for the T-Birds, having appeared in 29 games while facing the second-most shots of any goalie in the League. He is poised to challenge all-time WHL records for career games played, minutes played and saves as the season goes on.

Spokane Chiefs

2011-12 record: 32gp 16-11-2-3, 37pts (3rd in Div., 5th in Conf.) GF: 115 GA: 101

Top Scorers:

Anthony Bardaro 29gp-18g-19a-37pts

Brenden Kichton 31gp-6g-27a-33pts

Steven Kuhn 32gp-7-18a-25pts

The Chiefs find themselves off their pace from this time last season, but still in the mix in the top-heavy Western Conference. Having lost their top two scorers from last season, Tyler Johnson and Levko Koper, the Chiefs have relied on the likes of Anthony Bardaro, Mitch Holmberg and Steve Kuhn to lead the offense. Bardaro, however, was traded to Prince Albert after Christmas. Todd Fiddler, a 23-goal man last season for the Raiders, comes over the Chiefs, and should help the offense. Improving their 13th-ranked power play will help the Chiefs generate more scoring. Defensively, the Chiefs have been strong, allowing an average of just 24.4 shots per game. Veteran rearguard Brenden Kichton is averaging better than a point per game while helping the Chiefs to the WHL’s fourth-lowest goals against. Sophomore Mac Engel had some big shoes to fill taking over for former starter James Reid. Although he has endured some ups and downs, Engel has the ability to take his game to a higher level over the second half. 18-year-old Eric Williams was acquired from the Raiders to add experience in the Chiefs’ net.

Tri-City Americans

2011-12 record: 34gp 27-7-0-0, 54pts (1st in Div., 1st in Conf.) GF: 134 GA: 83

Top Scorers:

Adam Hughesman 34gp-23g-36a-59pts

Brendan Shinnimin 32gp-17g-33a-50pts

Patrick Holland 34gp-13g-29a-42pts

The Americans finished off the first half of the season in first place in the overall WHL standings, thanks to a dominant first-half performance. The Ams have been strong at both ends of the ice, scoring the fifth-most goals of any team in the WHL while allowing second-fewest number of goals. Adam Hughesman, Brendan Shinnimin and Mason Wilgosh have formed perhaps the best trio of 20-year-olds in the WHL, combining for 136 points in the first half. Other forwards like Patrick Holland, Justin Feser and Connor Rankin have provided consistent scoring as well. Zach Yuen has led an Ams’ defense corps that boasts a combined +65 rating while leading the team to the WHL’s best penalty killing success rate. Goaltender Ty Rimmer has given the Americans outstanding play in net since coming over from Prince George in the off-season, and currently boasts the WHL’s best save percentage and second-best goals-against average. 16-year-old rookie Eric Comrie has shown star potential in his 17 appearances in goal this season.

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