EX G2 PREVIEW: CANES @ ICE
Tonight the Hurricanes will face the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook BC. The Ice are a franchise that have increasingly been mentioned as most likely to be relocated. Attendance numbers have not been great for a number of years now and there are a number of groups interested in bringing a WHL team to various other cities in Western Canada. Despite the rumors, the Ice have been a perennial powerhouse and I expect nothing less heading into this season.
Although I expect the Ice to continue their tradition of excellence, there’s no denying that this will be a transition season. The Ice were one of the older teams in the league last year and there has been some noteworthy roster turnover as a result. Impact players that are either certainly gone or possibly moving on include Reinhart, Descheneau, Bozon, Cable, Vetterl, and Vailev. Look for Philip to be a key part of any Ice success this season. Tonight’s game will be the first exhibition game for the Ice and I anticipate they will dress a young lineup. With that said, I’ve been wrong before and we won’t know until game-time.
As far as the Canes are concerned, tonight will be a great chance to built on the third period effort from their first game against the Tigers – a 3-2 loss. As I wrote in the post game review, the Canes got heavily outplayed in the first half of the game – looking pensive and high strung. The Tigers dressed an older – more experienced forward lineup – wreaking havoc on the Canes defense with an aggressive forecheck. The aforementioned forecheck effectively nullified the Canes’ offense from the blue-line out. Led by the Addison-Nielsen pairing, the second half of the game saw the Cane’s make better passes and ultimately break through the neutral zone forecheck the Tigers had established in the first thirty minutes.
It will be interesting to see what kind of lineup the coaches decide to go with for tonight’s game. The Canes didn’t play any of their overagers against the Tigers and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them all in tonight’s game. My guess is we see the likes of Estephan out in place of Millette and Gutierrez – while most of the rookies stay in. Gutierrez worked well with Russian forward Egor Babenko throughout training camp and we may see them on a line together. I fully expect both imports, Babenko and Merezhko, to play the majority of the exhibition season. Barring injuries, it makes sense to have them play so as to acclimate them to the North American game before the regular season begins.
On the backend, Atwal is surely itching to get in a game, and if he doesn’t play tonight, will be in the lineup Friday night in Coaldale. Now that Addison has been sent down, we could see Nielsen paired up with Merezhko while Atwal partners with a guy like Reagan. They may also elect to give Nielsen the night off. I would also consider putting Atwal with Watson as both are quick, offensively minded blueliners and could be an effective puck-moving unit. Allen will probably draw in tonight as well, and could play alongside fellow big man, Darian Skeoch. Combined, they would be one of the biggest defensive pairings the Canes have had in a long time. If that were a combination the coaches wanted to try, and it went well, Skeoch would have an inside track on making this team.
The players battling for the final defensive roster spots include Kennedy, Reagan, Pankewicz, Allan, Skeoch, and Watson. It’s a long list, and I don’t think any of them are guaranteed anything. With a new coaching staff in place, last year’s returnees will need to play well to prove their worth. As difficult and stressful as it is for the players I mentioned above, it’s great for the organization to have fierce competition over roster spots heading into the pre season. Hopefully the competition amongst defensemen helps to elevate the play of the entire blue line heading into the regular season.
Finally, we could see Kegler get half of the game tonight. The Canes currently have two very solid goaltenders on the opening night roster. Knowing if Kegler is able to be effective at the major junior level is something Anholt will want to know before he starts thinking of making trades.
Last game no lineup was released prior to puck drop. Rest assured, if lineups are announced prior to the game tonight, you can see them on this page.
- As I have worked to slowly recreate the primary jerseys of each WHL team in digital form (for use around the site), I’ve realized how many teams use black as their dark base colour. As we look back, black will be something known as a trend throughout the 00’s. It began in the NHL with Dallas, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, LA, and San Jose adopting black primaries or frequent third jerseys. The black trend moved to the CHL as well. The list of black primary dark jerseys remains extremely long in the WHL. Here is a list of teams that have used or currently use black as a primary dark colour. Swift Current, Vancouver, Chilliwack, Kootenay, Prince George, Kelowna, Calgary, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw, Brandon and Prince Albert. Edmonton also introduced a black and electric green third jersey not too long ago. I hope the trend away from black continues moving forward. Outside of Calgary, Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat, the rest of the teams should abandon black and embrace their unique colour palette.
- If you look to the right, you should see a graphic below the next/previous Hurricanes box score in the website sidebar. If you click on the photo you should be taken to an infographic that I recently finished for fans and followers. It was designed to help break down the schedule in a clear and concise manner. I am planning to do monthly schedule previews, pulling graphics from this master copy, to help inform the fanbase on what to look for in the coming month(s). I would love to get some feedback on if you found the graphic useful and/or want to see more of this sort of thing in the future.
GDP: The Canes dress an older roster and beat the ICE on the road 4-3.
OGDP: The 20 year olds make a big impact as all three hit the scoresheet in one way or another.
NSOGDP: On the bus, Egor Babenko will introduce the entire team to Russian tv crime dramas. By the end of the season all the players and coaches will speak fluent Russian, dress like euro GQ aficionados, and have deep roots in the KHL as a backup plan.
What are YOU excited to see from the teams tonight? Who will you be watching closely? Let us know in the comments section below.
GAME PREVIEW BROUGHT TO YOU BY: