Aces' Larson takes WCHL point lead
by Bruce Baskin
December 3, 2001 - West Coast Hockey League (WCHL)
Anchorage Scoring Ace Larson Takes WCHL Points Lead
by Bruce Baskin
Despite playing for a team that has often found goals hard to come by, Anchorage forward Dean Larson has nonetheless taken over the scoring leadership in the West Coast Hockey League. The Aces have averaged just 2.88 goals per game thus far this season, which places them seventh in the eight-team WCHL in that category. Where they'd be without Larson may be enough to make Anchorage head coach Butch Goring shudder.
Larson has either scored or assisted on 30 of the Aces' 69 goals this year, and now leads both San Diego's Mark Woolf and Boise's Zac Boyer by a point in the WCHL scoring derby. The veteran Anchorage center is the league's all-time leader in assists (380) and points (564), and with 193 career goals, he heads into the week just seven goals away from becoming only the second player in WCHL history to reach the 200-goal mark. Larson's longtime linemate Paul Williams (an Anchorage native) is the league's all-time leader with 210, while Colorado's Craig Lyons is third on the list with 191.
After getting off to a horrendous start, the Aces have started showing signs of life. Anchorage won just two of their first 14 games, but they've picked up nine points in their last ten outings to bring their season record to 6-13-2. Their stumble out the gate won't cost them a playoff berth, since all eight WCHL teams will see postseason action, and the addition of goaltenders Olie Sundstrom and Petter Sandstrom has helped solidify the Aces' biggest concern heading into the season. One figures that with snipers like Larson, Williams and Kimbi Daniels in tow, the goals will eventually come for Anchorage.
And that might cause some considerable concern among their opponents as the season progresses.
WCHL NORTHERN DIVISION
IDAHO STEELHEADS (13-6-1)
Most Goals 11 Shevalier/Copeland Most Wins 13 Blair Allison Most Assists 16 Jeremy Mylymok Best Saves % 87.1 Blair Allison Most Points 25 Jeff Shevalier Best GA Avg 3.12 Blair AllisonThe Steelheads won twice to maintain their lead in the WCHL North derby. Idaho topped Anchorage 5-3 Friday night as Adam Copeland scored twice in the third period to bring the Steelies back from a 3-1 deficit. On Saturday, Idaho topped the Aces in a 4-3 shootout as the host Steelheads outshot Anchorage 52 to 15 in regulation time.
COLORADO GOLD KINGS (12-7-2)
Most Goals 16 R.J. Enga Most Wins 12 Kirk Daubenspeck Most Assists 22 Zac Boyer Best Saves % 90.7 Kirk Daubenspeck Most Points 29 Zac Boyer Best GA Avg 2.67 Kirk DaubenspeckThe Gold Kings overtook idle Tacoma for second place in the WCHL North after sweeping a two-game home series with Fresno. Colorado got two goals from R.J. Enga in their 6-4 win over the Falcons last Friday, then brought out the brooms with a 3-1 win on Saturday as Enga, Craig Lyons and Colin Chaulk each netted Gold King goals.
TACOMA SABERCATS (10-6-2)
Most Goals 11 Dampy Brar Most Wins 7 MikeBrusseau Most Assists 12 Jarret Whidden Best Saves % 91.6 Mike Brusseau Most Points 18 Brar/Flichel Best GA Avg 2.61 Mike BrusseauThe Sabercats took the week off as the WCHL schedule gives the Tacomans a nine-day break between games. When the Cats skate back into action with a pair of two-game home series this week against Bakersfield and San Diego, they'll try to pick up where they left off, having gone 6-3-1 over their past ten games. In an off-ice move last Friday, defenseman Brian LaChance was waived after scoring one point in 15 games.
ANCHORAGE ACES (6-15-3)
Most Goals 13 Dean Larson Most Wins 2 Two players Most Assists 17 Dean Larson Best Saves % 90.1 Olie Sundstrom Most Points 30 Dean Larson Best GA Avg 3.40 Olie SundstromThe Aces split a two-game home set with defending WCHL champion San Diego, losing 6-1 to the Gulls last Monday before posting an exciting 2-1 win Tuesday night as Bobby Cunningham's third-period shorthanded goal made the difference. Anchorage then fell twice in Idaho, picking up a point in Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss.
WCHL SOUTHERN DIVISION
SAN DIEGO GULLS (13-4-1)
Most Goals 16 Mark Woolf Most Wins 11 Trevor Koenig Most Assists 19 John Spoltore Best Saves % 93.1 Trevor Koenig Most Points 29 Mark Woolf Best GA Avg 2.01 Trevor KoenigThe Gulls are having to work to keep their lead in the WCHL South over Long Beach. San Diego got two goals from Mark Woolf in last Monday's 6-1 win in Anchorage, but the Gulls fell 2-1 the next night. Chris Albert's hat trick paced the champs' 4-2 home win over Bakersfield Saturday before a Sports Arena crowd of 7,569.
LONG BEACH ICE DOGS (12-5-1)
Most Goals 17 Kelly Askew Most Wins 7 Mike Buzak Most Assists 13 Jamie Sokolsky Best Saves % 90.0 Marten Engren Most Points 23 Kelly Askew Best GA Avg 2.72 Mike BuzakThe Dogs kept things cooking with three wins last week. John Lilley potted three goals in LB's 5-2 win over Fresno Tuesday, and Lilley's shootout goal decided the Dogs' 3-2 triumph over the Falcons the next night. Kelly Askew registered a hat trick in Long Beach's 6-4 victory over Bakersfield Friday, but LB fell to the Condors 3-1 on Sunday.
BAKERSFIELD CONDORS (8-9-0)
Most Goals 12 Jamie Cooke Most Wins 5 Luciano Caravaggio Most Assists 19 Jason Firth Best Saves % 89.4 Scott Hay Most Points 22 Jason Firth Best GA Avg 2.88 Scott HayThe Condors dropped two games last week prior to opening this week with a win. Bakersfield fell 6-4 to Long Beach on Friday in a game marred by a 5-on-5 first period brawl. On Saturday, the Condors lost by a 4-2 count in San Diego. The Condors broke through with a 3-1 win over Long Beach Sunday as goalie Scott Hay recorded 43 saves.
FRESNO FALCONS (5-15-2)
Most Goals 8 Glen Gulutzan Most Wins 3 David Mitchell Most Assists 10 Three players Best Saves % 86.8 David Mitchell Most Points 18 Glen Gulutzan Best GA Avg 3.77 David MitchellFaces have changed, but results remained the same for the Falcons, winless in their last nine games. Former WCHL All-Star goalie Terry Friesen signed on, as did European vet D Evan Marble, but the Falcons still dropped all three games last week. Injuries have plagued the team, which has skated shorthanded much of the season.
• Discuss this story on the West Coast Hockey League message board...
West Coast Hockey League Stories from December 3, 2001
- Aces' Larson takes WCHL point lead - OSC Original by Bruce Baskin
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.