The Portland Winterhawks' deep group of NHL prospects has helped the team win 16 of its past 17 games to climb within one point of the best record in the Western Hockey League. But another major factor has been the play of three of its most heralded 2013 NHL Draft hopefuls.
Center Nicolas Petan, right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand and defenseman Seth Jones all played significant roles as the team swept a pair of games this weekend to extend its latest winning streak to four games.
|Seth Jones, center, is one of three 2013 NHL Draft-eligible players starring for Portland.
Petan had a pair of goals Friday in a 4-2 defeat of the Kootenay Ice. Saturday, he had a goal and an assist in an 8-2 win at Seattle. Bjorkstrand had a pair of goals in Saturday's game. Jones had an assist in each game, giving him a point in three straight.
Jones, who has 17 points and a plus-17 rating in 24 games, is No. 1 on Central Scouting's top 25 ranking of WHL skaters for this year's draft. Bjorkstrand, who leads all first-year WHL players with 13 goals and is tied for the lead with 23 points, is No. 11. Petan, third in the league with 44 points, is No. 15.
Here is how other WHL draft hopefuls fared over the weekend:
* Prince Albert defenseman Joshua Morrissey, No. 6 on Central Scouting's WHL top 25, had a goal and an assist in the Raiders' 6-0 win Friday at the Brandon Wheat Kings.
* Saskatoon left wing Nathan Burns made his first goal with the Blades since being acquired in a trade a big one, netting the game-winner with 1:01 left in regulation Friday in a 3-2 victory at the Kamloops Blazers.
* Left wing Malte Stromwell of the Tri-City Americans assisted on the game-tying goal with 17 seconds left in regulation then scored the winner 43 seconds into overtime as Tri-City beat the Spokane Chiefs on Friday 5-4.
* Prince George left wing Brett Roulston had a pair of goals in the Cougars' 5-4 win Friday at the Victoria Royals. Teammate Alex Forsberg had three assists.
* Prince Albert left wing Dakota Conroy had three assists Saturday in 5-2 defeat of Brandon. Wheat Kings defenseman Eric Roy, No. 9 on Central Scouting's list, had a goal and an assist.
* Red Deer goalie Patrik Bartosak stopped 42 of 43 shots in regulation and overtime and three of four in a shootout as the Rebels beat the Moose Jaw Warriors on Saturday 2-1.
* Kamloops forward JC Lipon had a pair of assists Saturday in a 2-1 defeat of the Vancouver Giants. Lipon leads the WHL with 53 points.
* Kelowna Rockets defenseman Jesse Lees had a goal and an assist Saturday in a 9-2 win against Saskatoon, and had two more assists Sunday in an 8-2 defeat of the Everett Silvertips.
* Spokane center Liam Stewart had a pair of goals Saturday in the Chiefs' 5-2 defeat of Tri-City. Teammate Michael Aviani had a pair of assists, and Todd Fiddler had a goal and an assist.
* Victoria center Ben Walker had a pair of goals in the Royals' 3-2 defeat of Prince George on Saturday.
* Kelowna left wing Carter Rigby scored his first three goals of the season -- his first WHL hat trick -- Sunday in the Rockets' 8-2 win at Everett.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK