The Western Hockey League’s Winnipeg ICE continue their pursuit of top place in the East Division of the Eastern Conference. That dream is still alive thanks in large part to netminder Liam Hughes. On Monday, it was announced that Hughes had been named the league’s Goaltender of the Week.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound backstop from Kelowna, BC. strung together back-to-back wins for the ICE this past week, going 2-0-0 with one shutout in the process. After allowing one goal to the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday, March 6, Hughes blanked the Prince Albert Raiders with 34 stops for his third shutout of the season on Sunday.
After being outscored 21-3 during the course of a miniature four-game losing streak near the end of February, Hughes and the ICE have turned things around in the past week of play. Now winners of three straight, Hughes’ 0.50 goals against average and .980 save percentage served as two of the main reasons that the ICE were able to find success to begin the month of March.
The club’s two starting netminders from the beginning of the season – Dean McNabb and Jesse Makaj – had taking on the bulk of the work through the first half of the year. However, the ICE have come to rely on backstops Liam Hughes and Gage Alexander following the departure of both players, with the elder Hughes serving as the primary starter.
Winnipeg currently sits third in the East Division with a 37-24-1 record for 75 points through 62 games. The Brandon Wheat Kings (35-22-6) have 76 points, but Winnipeg has two games in hand on the Wheaties. Atop the division is the Prince Albert Raiders, who have played 64 games – the most of any East Division team – current have 82 points, with just four games remaining.
The 20-year-old goalie now owns a 20-11-0 record in 31 games, to go along with a 2.55 goals against average, a .915 save percentage and three shutouts. In his career, Hughes owns a 49-46-12 record with a 3.14 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. Winnipeg will now travel to Regina for a Wednesday evening date with the Pats at the Brandt Centre. Puck drop is set for 8:00 PM central.