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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 Allison
The 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 Daubenspeck
The 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 Brusseau
The 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 Sundstrom
The 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 Koenig
The 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 Buzak
The 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 Hay
The 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 Mitchell
Faces 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.

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West Coast Hockey League Stories from December 3, 2001


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