Portland Winterhawks goaltender Brendan Burke (Getty)Aside from being a key B.C. Division battle, the Kelowna Rockets' game against the Kamloops Blazers Monday night was also important in determining which Western League team would jump to the top of the Buzzing the Net Dynamic Dozen rankings for this week. The Rockets lost the game 6-5, but it went to overtime, and they maintain a healthy lead over the Blazers for the top spot in the division.
The Portland Winterhawks, U.S. Division foes (who beat both the Rockets and the Blazers in the playoffs last season) went 2-0-1 this past week, although both of their wins were shutouts: they beat Spokane 3-0 and Tri-City 7-0. Both goaltenders, Mac Carruth and Brendan Burke, earned individual shutouts and Carruth finds himself tops in the Western Hockey League among goaltenders in save percentage, three points ahead of Red Deer's Patrik Bartosak. Portland gets a lot of credit for their offence, especially the point production of top prospects Nic Petan and Seth Jones, but this team is scarier because they've allowed just 110 goals this season in 49 games. Only Edmonton has allowed fewer (109), but they've played 51 times.
The wise money may be spent betting on a WHL championship final identical to last season's.
1. Portland Winterhawks, WHL (.581 RPI, 1.8 SRS, +2) — Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsic remain No. 1 and No. 2 in the WHL points race, but Petan is within striking distance of Spokane's Todd Fiddler for most goals. Fiddler has the advantage of playing on a team without as many offensive weapons. Part of why Portland's been able to find continual success in the WHL is the development of imported players: first Nino Niederreiter, then Sven Bärtschi, and now Oliver Bjorkstrand, who leads WHL rookies in scoring.
Also to note from that link is longevity. Tyler Wotherspoon and Troy Rutkowski represent such a sturdy one-two punch of defensive defencemen. Rutkowski broke the team record for games played this past week, and barring catastrophe this week, he should tie Andrew Ference's team ironman record with 217 straight games played on Saturday.
2. Kelowna Rockets, WHL (.576 RPI, 1.6 SRS, -1) — The Rockets, as described by Neate last week, are not the best at anything, but are very good at everything. It may have been for the best for Colton Sissons to get hurt when he did—rather than play for Canada at Ufa, Sissons was back in Kelowna on December 30 and has been a big part of their recent run. He has points in seven straight, and while I hate +/- as a statistic, it's probably worth noting that he hasn't been a "minus" rating in a game since October 27, not bad for an 18-year old who plays his teams' toughest defensive minutes.Read More »from Portland flips with Kelowna to re-take top spot in BTN’s Dynamic Dozen