The Western Hockey League’s regular season is down to its final six weeks, so it’s not too early to project possible playoff matchups.
The Spokane Chiefs, for example, would be in line to play the Seattle Thunderbirds, who travel to the Arena tonight and host the Chiefs on Friday.
The Thunderbirds (33-16-2-3, 71 points) and Chiefs (31-16-3-2, 67) have nearly identical records, but Seattle is 5-0 against Spokane this season. The last two games have gone into overtime.
Seattle has compiled its .657 winning percentage despite being outscored 185-183. No other WHL team ranked among the top five in its conference has been outscored.
Unlike Spokane, which is 0-7 against Portland, Seattle owns three wins over the Winterhawks this season. All three Seattle wins have been by one goal, while Portland has outscored Seattle 33-11 in the other five games between the top two teams in the U.S. Division.
Prince Albert captain Josh Morrissey and Kootenay captain Sam Reinhart dropped the gloves last Friday during a 1-all tie early in the third period at Cranbrook, B.C.
Both players expected major penalties for the fight, but Morrissey had an unsportsmanlike conduct call added to his stay in the box. The Ice used the advantage to take the lead on Luke Phelp’s power-play goal and added two late goals.
“It’s funny, Reinhart and I are very good friends,” Morrissey told Andrew Schopp of the Prince Albert Daily Herald. “At the end of the day, we’re still friends. We texted afterward and laughed about it. It was the heat of the moment.”
Portland’s Brendan Burke was named Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Week after posting two shutouts last week, including a 32-save performance during a 6-0 win over Spokane. … Kelowna forward Myles Bell was named WHL Player of the Week after recording six goals and three assists in three games. … Eric Comrie of Tri-City was named WHL Goaltender of the Month for January after posting an 8-2-0-1 record with a 1.35 goals-against average and .962 save percentage. … Todd Fiddler of Prince George, formerly with Spokane, was named WHL Player of the Month for January after totaling 16 goals and 13 assists in 14 games.
Around the league
Regina improved to 7-0 against Moose Jaw with a 5-2 victory last Saturday in Regina. The Pats can complete the season sweep March 1 in Moose Jaw. The season series between the two was 4-4 in the last two seasons. … Kelowna (42-7-0-3) became the first WHL team to clinch a postseason berth by sweeping Kamloops last weekend. The Western Conference-leading Rockets will play four games this week at home, where the team is 19-2-0-3. The highlight will be Friday’s game against Eastern Conference-leading Edmonton (37-13-0-1). … Defenseman Ryan Pulock, captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings and a first-round pick of the New York Islanders last season, had three goals and 10 assists during 11 games in January. … Saskatoon defenseman Dylan Busenius is expected to play his 300th WHL game today at Lethbridge.