The Western Hockey League announced on Monday that Silvertips forward Connor Dewar was named WHL player of the week after collecting eight points (four goals and four assists) in two wins against the Thunderbirds in a weekend home-and-home. It’s Dewar’s first player of the week award of the season and the first Silvertip in 2018-2019 to win the award.
After recording two assists in a 5-2 win at the ShoWare Center on Friday, Dewar erupted with a four-goal, two-assist outing on Saturday at Angel of the Winds Arena in a 7-2 rout.
With the six points on Saturday, Dewar surpassed his 68-point campaign in 2017-2018 with 70 points through 47 games.
The Pas, Manitoba native is tied with Moose Jaw’s Justin Almeida for the sixth-most points in the WHL this year and he’s tied for fourth in goals with Everett teammate Zack Andrusiak with 35.
Seattle coach fined
Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette’s wallet is a little lighter as of Monday, as the Thunderbirds’ bench boss was fined $750 for a game misconduct during the team’s 7-2 loss to Everett on Saturday.
The penalty was issued with just seconds left after a penalty was called on Everett’s Justyn Gurney for roughing. Here was O’Dette’s explanation, via ESPN 710’s Andy Eide: “A typical referee move to give us a call with two seconds left,” O’Dette said. “No, no, no, no, we’re not taking that. We’re not making it look good on the box score. Typical cowardly ref move to do that. We didn’t want that power play.”
Ice, ice baby
Last Tuesday, the Kootenay Ice ownership group and the WHL announced in a press conference that the franchise was relocating from Cranbrook, British Columbia to Winnipeg, Manitoba starting in 2019-2020, as was reported by the Winnipeg Free Press in October.
That same outlet reported on Feb. 1 that over 1,000 people had reserved spots to purchase season tickets for the new team within 24 hours of the announcement. Although there have been questions whether Winnipeg, which already has a NHL franchise(the Winnipeg Jets) and an AHL affiliate (Manitoba Moose), can support a third professional hockey team, this initial report forecasts strong attendance for the Ice, who will play at the University of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena, a 1,400-seat barn, in their first two seasons.
Around the WHL
Two wins over the Seattle Thunderbirds proved important for the Silvertips, as the Portland Winterhawks continue to lurk behind Everett for the top seed in the division after blanking the Giants, 3-0, on Friday and edging Spokane, 6-5, in a shootout. The Winterhawks are trending upward, having won four out of their past five and seven out of their past 10. Portland is seven points back of Everett with two remaining matchups between the two teams, the first taking place on Saturday at Angel of the Winds Arena.
Seattle is still well within reach of the final Western Conference wild-card spot, but two losses put the Thunderbirds temporarily out of the playoff picture with 49 points. The Thunderbirds possess a game in hand on the two teams they’re trying to catch, Kamloops and Kelowna, but Seattle’s schedule features a heavy dose of U.S. Division opponents down the final stretch, the tougher of the two Western divisions.
Kelowna and Kamloops are vying for the final playoff spot in the B.C. division with 50 points. If Seattle continues playing well — the Thunderbids won seven out of their last 11 entering the weekend back-to-back with Everett — that could be a race for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
This is easily the best divisional race, where the top five teams are separated by just nine points.
Edmonton leads with 66 points, but Lethbridge is four points behind at 62 points with two games in hand. Medicine Hat, which will face Everett at Angel of the Winds Arena on Friday, is third with 60 points, Red Deer is fourth at 59 points and Calgary is right behind with 57 points.
With Brandon sitting at fourth in the East Division with 51 points, there’s a strong chance the Central Division claims both wild card spots in the Eastern Conference. But staying out of the East Division bracket, where 42-7-2 Prince Albert awaits, is desirable, as a first-round matchup with the Raiders would be a significant hurdle.
A 4-3 loss to Prince Albert ended Moose Jaw’s four-game winning streak. But the Warriors are surging, winning seven of their last nine games, and are close to catching Saskatoon for the No. 2 seed in the division, as Moose Jaw is four points behind the Blades with three games in hand. The Warriors and Blades face off on Wednesday in a battle for key points.
Games to monitor:
Tue: Portland at Tri-City, 7:05 p.m. PST (Americans are 5-1 against the Winterhawks this season)
Wed: Moose Jaw at Saskatoon, 5:00 p.m. PST
Sat: Prince Albert at Lethbridge, 6:00 p.m. PST
Sat: Kelowna at Kamloops, 7:00 p.m. PST