Circle Saturday night on your calender.
That’s when two of the best teams in the Western Hockey League, according to the WHL newspapers writers association, will go head to head. Team placings in the writer’s weekly poll mostly stood pat, but that might change after the No. 1 Vancouver Giants play the No. 3 Tri-City Americans on Dec. 13 in Tri-Cities. The meeting comes one week after the two Western Conference division handled their Eastern Conference counterparts.
Tri-City beat a road weary and still No. 2 ranked Calgary Hitmen team 4-1 on the weekend. Meanwhile, the The Giants put the brakes on the No. 4 Saskatoon Blades’ 12-game road winning streak on Saturday night and improved to 12-0-0-2 at home with a 5-1 pounding of the visiting East Division leaders.
The only movement in the polls top five was that the No. 5 Spokane Chiefs broke a previous tie at the position over the Kelowna Rockets, who fell to No. 6 this week. Big swings of the week featured two Central Division teams. The Lethbridge Hurricanes, winners of six-straight, moved up three spots to crack the top-10 at No. 9. The Kootenay Ice dropped four to No. 12 after their goaltending situation was thrown into dissarray when veteran keeper Thomas Heemskerk left the team for personal reasons.
The WMJHWA poll, with last week's rank, team, first-place votes in parenthesis and total points:
1. (1) Vancouver Giants (12), 284
2. (2) Calgary Hitmen, 272
3. (3) Tri-City Americans (1), 262
4. (4) Saskatoon Blades, 245
5. (T5) Spokane Chiefs, 232
6. (T5) Kelowna Rockets, 219
7. (7) Medicine Hat Tigers, 211
8. (10) Brandon Wheat Kings, 190
9. (13) Lethbridge Hurricanes, 180
10. (9) Regina Pats, 178
11. (11) Swift Current Broncos, 148
12. (8) Kootenay Ice, 140
13. (12) Everett Silvertips, 138
14. (14) Seattle Thunderbirds, 117
15. (16) Kamloops Blazers, 103
16. (15) Edmonton Oil Kings, 90
17. (17) Red Deer Rebels, 57
18. (18) Prince Albert Raiders, 74
19. (20) Prince George Cougars, 66
20. (19) Chilliwack Bruins, 41
21. (21) Portland Winter Hawks, 28
22. (22) Moose Jaw Warriors, 14
November's Manitoba Midget AAA WHL Offensive Player of the Month
Winnipeg, MB -- As a three-year-veteran, Nathan Suderman is looked upon by his coaches and teammates as a leader and during the month of November, the 6-foot, 190-lb. winger didn’t disappoint as he scored seven goals and added 14 assists in the 12 games the Pembina Valley Hawks played. Suderman, this month’s WHL Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League Offensive Player of the Month award winner, was very consistent, never scoring more than three points in any single game, but contributing to the offence every night. The highlight may have been when he scored both the game-tying goal in the third and the game-winner in overtime to bring the Hawks all the way back from a 3-0 third-period deficit to down Brandon. Suderman’s MJHL rights are held by the Winkler Flyers.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)