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Dupont's Around the Dub

Darren Dupont's latest column with various news and notes on the WHL
Dupont WHL column
Darren Dupont

We find ourselves into the final 10 days of the WHL’s regular season and there is plenty still left to decide. Let’s dive into it all this week!

1.  FOCHT ON FIRE - It’s been quite the stretch for Calgary Hitmen forward Carson Focht. The 19-year-old (playing in his 18-year-old season) from Regina extended his point streak to seven games Wednesday night in a thrilling 6-5 overtime victory over Medicine Hat. Focht had a four-goal performance February 27th against the Swift Current Broncos and is coming off back-to-back hat-tricks. He has 10 goals and 10 assists in the seven game streak.

2.  TRIO SIGNS -  A congratulations goes out to Nick Henry, Connor Dewar and Reese Johnson who signed NHL contracts recently. Henry, a 19-year-old from Portage la Prairie, MB, is seventh in league scoring with 89 points and signed a three-year entry-level contract with Colorado after being selected in the fourth round in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Saskatoon’s Reese Johnson, the Red Deer Rebels Captain, put pen to paper on a three-year entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks while Everett Silvertips’ captain Connor Dewar signed with the Minnesota Wild after being taken in third round this past summer. The 19-year-old Dewar is 12th in league scoring with 76 points.

3.  PA IN MOURNING - It’s been a tough year off the ice for the Prince Albert Raiders as longtime executive Donn Clark, a native of Kelvington, SK, passed away Saturday after a courageous battle with cancer. 

I never knew Donn, but, it’s clear his impact on the Raiders and the hockey world runs deep. This news comes just months after the team lost Director of Player Personnel Ron Gunville to a battle with cancer. These things bring people together and the folks in Prince Albert are great people. There are plenty of reasons to be rooting for the Raiders this spring.

4.  CANES ARE IN! -  The latest team to clinch a spot in the WHL playoffs: the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes join Prince Albert, Spokane, Vancouver, Portland, Victoria, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Everett, and Tri-City as teams who have already qualified.The Raiders have also won the 2018-19 Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular season champions. Kelowna and Calgary are both on the brink, and could clinch this week.

5.  ELMER STILL ROLLING - In the Hurricanes 4-1 win over Brandon on Wednesday night, 18-year-old Jake Elmer scored his 37th goal and added an assist. The goal extended his amazing goal-streak to 13 games in which he has scored 17 times. In 136 games entering this season split between Regina, Kootenay and Lethbridge, Elmer had just 25 goals. His 75 points this season also top his career totals entering the season of 53 points. That is the value of a summer. Consider it when evaluating players on your favourite team.

6.  RACES HEATING UP -  As we close in on the final week of the regular season we have several fun stat races to follow. The first is for the league’s scoring title. As of Thursday morning, San Jose Sharks’ prospect Joachim Blichfeld continues to lead with 107 points, closely followed by Moose Jaw’s Tristin Langan with 102. Blichfeld has the goal-scoring lead with 52, while Langan is four behind at 48. The leader in assists is the Warriors’ Justin Almeida with 68. Two players have 63, Nick Henry and Edmonton Oil Kings’ forward Trey Fix-Wolansky.

Saskatoon Blades’ defenceman Dawson Davidson continues to lead all blueliners with 71 points but Vancouver Giants’ 17-year-old Bowan Byram is next with 68 and Josh Brook of the Warriors has 66.

7.  GAME-OF-THE-WEEK - Set a reminder for Friday night in your Google calendar because the Red Deer Rebels host the Brandon Wheat Kings in a huge battle for the final playoff spot in the east. The two are dead-even at 68 points, though the Rebels have a game in hand. Both teams are two-points back of Medicine Hat who has 70 with five games remaining.

8.  CANADA WEST CHAMPIONSHIP - There were 49 WHL Alumni suiting up over the weekend in Saskatoon at brand-new Merlis Belsher Place as the Saskatchewan Huskies hosted the Alberta Golden Bears in the best-of-three Canada West final. In the end, the Golden Bears outlasted the Dogs with a 1-0 win in game three on Sunday night to capture their 28th conference title.

Both teams are headed to Lethbridge later this month to battle for a national championship.

9.  SINK FOR SAVOIE - I introduced young phenom Matthew Savoie in an earlier column and, while looking at the standings, Swift Current, Kootenay, and Regina would all have a shot at the number-one pick this spring if the season were to end today. The Pats’, whose first-round pick is owned by Saskatoon, would love to climb out of the ‘bottom three’ and leave Saskatoon with the option of drafting no higher than number two.

The Pats are three points back of the Prince George Cougars with a game in hand. Regina has five games remaining while the Cougars have four.

10. GET YOUR TICKETS - It’s time to grab your tickets and gear up for the playoffs. If you act quickly you can score a deal as many teams are offering incentives for reserving your seat early. The puck will drop on the WHL playoffs on March 22!

See you at the rink!

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