Tuesday night was the night for the 2011 fifth-round picks of the New York Islanders to have the spotlight all to themselves. It's interesting to watch these two because of the contrast of seasons they've had.
John Perssons had a great first half but has struggled the last couple of months. Brendan Kichton had a so-so first half, but has been on fire the past month.
Both are key players for their respective teams and how far either team goes is going to depend on how well both players finished the season.
First, we start with Brendan Kichton who just so happens to be the current Islander prospect of the week. Always nice of the prospects to have a good night right after earning prospect of the week.
As we said yesterday; Kitchen is somebody who is quickly becoming a favorite with us because he makes plays, whether they're on offense or on defense. He's not the biggest dog on the blue line, but one does not become the leading scorer among defensemen in the WHL without having some serious talent.
Spokane is on a quick two-game road trip facing Seattle on Tuesday and then up I-5/ BC-5 northbound into Canada for a game Wednesday against the Kamloops Blazers the team with the best record in the WHL. It's not an easy trip as while it's only two games you're looking at close to 18 hours of bus riding.
It's a slow Tuesday, which allows us to give give you guys back east a sense of what these kids go through trying to make it to the NHL. If you see the map and you start from Spokane driving through I-80 to reach Seattle. It is not a joyride, even with ideal conditions but we are in the dead of winter with a Pacific storm hitting the Northwest.
We put up the entire road trip round trip to give you an idea of what these young men go through and if you want to play around with it. Go get a copy of the WHL teams and start making your own road trips one we recommend anywhere to Prince George and see how far trip that is just play two games.
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As it is Spokane has been on a roll but Seattle was a dangerous game because the Thunderbirds may be in seventh place but they are also a team was made the playoffs in several years and they are currently in a fight with four other teams for the last two spots in a WHL's Western Conference playoffs.
And of course there is the danger of overlooking a seventh-seeded team when the next night you know you're facing the team with the best record in the WHL. Spokane has been one of the hottest teams as of late and in large part due to the play of Kichton.
Tuesday was no different as Kichton earning a game's third star after a 1-1-2 led the Chiefs to a 5-3 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds. The win extended Seattle's unbeaten streak to seven games as well as pull to within six points of 3rd place, Portland (Spokane owns a game in hand).
Kichton's first point of the game was a secondary assist on a power-play goal in the first period giving Spokane a 1-0 lead at 9:28. This game went back and forth which two teams trading goals until third period.
In the third period, Kichton gave Spokane a 3-2 lead when he scored his 11th goal of the season at even strength at 12:07.January was very kind to Kichton as he wound up 5-14-19 (11-41-52) to lead Spokane to a 11-5 record in the month, which has Spokane back in the hunt for both the WHL's US division lead and the Western Conference championship.
John Persson and his Red Deer Rebels would be holding a playoff spot right now had they defeated the Brandon Wheat Kings last Saturday night. Going into that game, the Wheat Kings held a two-point lead over the Rebels and by winning stretched it to four points.
Red Deer has three games in hand on Brandon and they used one of those games in hand against the Medicine Hat Tigers on Tuesday night in a must win situation for the Rebels.
The Rebels scored two goals in each of the three periods to earn a 6-3 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers. The win pulls the Rebels back to within two points of 8th place Brandon.
Persson scored his 18th goal of the season an empty net goal at 18:53 to seal the win for the Rebels. It also extended Persson's scoring streak to six games (3-3-6) and if he starts scoring like he did last season; it will greatly help Red Deer's hopes of making the playoffs.
At 18-27-45, Persson is way off at least the goal scoring pace that he had last season when he went 33-28-61. The Rebels have 22 games remaining on their schedule and the way things are looking it's going to take at least 20 more points for them to make the playoffs.
(Kichton- Spokane Chiefs, Persson- Red Deer Rebels)
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