WHL notes: Western Conference dominates Eastern
The top seven teams in the West have compiled 52 points or more
The Western Hockey League’s Western Conference had another chance Sunday to prove its superiority over the Eastern Conference.
A quick glance at the standings already makes the case. The top seven teams in the West have compiled 52 points or more. In the East, only Calgary (63 points) and Edmonton (59) have more points than the West’s seventh-place team, Vancouver.
The West’s top team, Kelowna, gave the East more to think about Sunday by defeating the East’s top team, the Hitmen, 4-2 at the Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta.
Justin Kirkland, Carter Rigby, Madison Bowey and Ryan Olsen scored as the Rockets improved to 36-5-0-2. Kelowna was playing its third game in three nights.
“Overall, we were the better team out there from the get-go,” assistant coach Dan Lambert told Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier after the Rockets outshot Calgary 29-19. “Our guys came out and they were on a mission. They wanted to prove that not only were they able to play against Calgary, but in this building.”
Calgary fans booed when the Hitmen, who made multiple moves before the trade deadline, went 0 for 6 on the power play.
“It comes down to execution,” Calgary coach Mike Williamson told Scott Fisher of the Calgary Sun. “And we’ve got some guys who haven’t been part of (the power-play system) before.”
Fiddler makes noise
Former Spokane Chief Todd Fiddler, now with Prince George, was named WHL Player of the Week for the week ending Sunday after recording five goals and four assists last week.
Fiddler, 20, is in his fourth and final season in the WHL. He was traded from Spokane to Moose Jaw during the offseason and shipped to Prince George in early November. He has posted 22 goals and 22 assists in 26 games with the Cougars. He is tied for 10th in league scoring with 54 points.
Regina Pats defenseman Tye Hand returned home to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, after suffering his second concussion this season and the sixth in his last four seasons.
“It’s not like a broken ankle or a broken arm,” Hand told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader Post. You need your brain for everything you do. Resting it is probably the best decision right now.”
Around the league
Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) is the top-ranked skater (No. 2 overall) from the WHL in the NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings of North American skaters eligible for the upcoming draft. Draisaitl and other potential future stars will play at the Canadian Hockey League’s Top Prospects Game tonight in Calgary, Alberta. “It’s going to be another new experience with the top guys from the draft being there,” Draisaitl said to Dave Leaderhouse of the Prince Albert Daily Herald, referring to his recent play for his native Germany at the world juniors in Sweden. “I don’t know exactly what is going on, but I know there is the game and a lot of media.” Kootenay Ice captain Sam Reinhart is the fourth-ranked skater in Central Scouting’s rankings. … Despite a recent hot streak that has put them within striking distance of the upper tier of the Western Conference, The Vancouver Giants are worried about attendance. The Giants are averaging 5,944 fans per game after averaging 7,205 last season when they finished in last place in the conference. They’ve averaged 6,900 or better the past four seasons.