GWMHL

River Rats Seize Early Season Lead with Monster First Quarter

In News, WVR on November 16, 2020 at 7:36 pm

The West Virginia River Rats, who had one of the league’s worst records last season, made a huge splash to start the 2020-21 season, going 18-2-0 and scoring 114 goals in their first 20 games. It’s early, but that high-octane offensive output, led by a dominant top line of Leon Draisaitl, Sebastian Aho and Patrik Laine, puts the Rats on pace to shatter league records by season’s end.

In the Plante Conference, the usually competitive Parry Sound sagged to a very disappointing 6-12-2 start, leaving an opening for both Baltimore (13-7-0) and Pittsburgh (12-6-2) to put themselves into the top four in the conference. Salem (12-8-0) made up for its anemic offensive start (57 goals) by allowing just 49 while El Dorado (13-6-1) also had a strong start.

No team in the Sawchuk was remotely as good as West Virginia, but the first quarter saw good starts from defending Gump Cup champ Boston (14-5-1), thanks to sparkling play by Ben Bishop. Vancouver (13-4-3) had a surprisingly good showing, putting the team a few points ahead of cup contending division rival Delta (11-6-3). Adirondack fans were shocked to see its team limp along to just 3 wins in the first 20 and the league’s worst record.

Draisaitl leads all scorers after 20 games, with a jaw-dropping 45 points. Linemates Aho and Laine are third and fourth, respectively, and Aho leads all goal-scorers with 20. San Jose’s Mitch Marner is a distant second behind Draisaitl in the scoring race, with 33 points. Baltimore’s strong quarter was largely driven by its blueline, which featured three players — Brent Burns, Anthony DeAngelo and rookie Cale Makar — scoring at a point-per-game pace. Also of note, Vancouver’s two Sheas, Weber and Theodore, are one-two in defenseman goals with 10 and 9. Makar’s 20 points give him a five-point lead in the rookie scoring race.

Boston’s Bishop has three shutouts already, along with the best stats (2.39, .920) of any of the goalies who have seen more than half of their teams’ games so far.

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