GDB 21.0: RUBY SLIPPERS
Alright, alright. I know it’s a tired cliché; however, following a 0-3 eastern road swing one has to believe that there really is “no place like home” for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The team’s home vs. road records seem to speak for themselves. The road has been a tough slog as of late for the Canes as they have lost 6 in a row to bring their overall record away from Lethy to 5-7. Meanwhile in the friendly confines of the ENMAX Centre, the Hurricanes sport an impressive 7-1 record. They haven’t dropped a contest on home ice since game 4 of the season vs. the powerhouse Kelowna Rockets. Hopefully that means that a return home is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Hurricanes entering tonight’s contest vs. the Everett Silvertips.
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This game will undoubtedly be a very tough one against and 11-5-0-1 Everett team. The Tips come in with the WHL’s most stifling defence by a significant margin. They are far and away the league’s leaders in goals against as they’ve only given up a paltry 33 in 17 games. The Kevin Constatine coached Silvertips are known for playing a stagnating brand of hockey that seeks to wear the opponent down and capitalize on mistakes. This year’s version of the Tips are built from the crease out. Carter Hart has started every game and boasts an unbelievable .937 save percentage and a 1.74 GAA with 4 shutouts. He’s clearly the early season favourite to be named the league’s top goaltender. From there the Tips defensive group is led by Montreal Canadiens first-rounder Noah Juulsen. They guy is a stud on the blueline, as demonstrated recently in his outstanding play for team WHL in the Subway Super Series. Everett provides offence by committee to get W’s. The team is last in the WHL in goals for, with 40 to this point as a team, but that hardly seems to matter when you rarely give up any. However, on their current 3 game winning streak the Tips have potted 11 markers, so their offence may be rounding into form. The Tips leading scorer is former Hurricane Remi Laurencelle, who has 12 points in 17 games.
The key to winning this game for the Hurricanes will be manufacturing offence. They will need to find ways to get on the scoreboard by any means possible. That means that everyone will need to be willing to go to the dirty areas of the ice to create scoring chances. The forwards will have to be willing to take hits in the corners to keep the puck moving and get it to the front of the net. Pucks will need to be fired from all angles in hopes of creating scrums and tip-in and rebound opportunities. Bodies in front of the net blocking sightlines will be essential. Greasy goals will have to be the name of the game. Bank ‘em in off a leg, off a tip, or off a weird bounce. The Hurricanes cannot afford to get pass happy in this one, when they have a chance to fire the puck, they’re going to have to take it. This also means that the Hurricanes will have to play disciplined hockey tonight. They’ve run into some penalty trouble lately which has been stifling momentum. The Canes goaltending will also need to be good as this one figures to be a low-scoring affair. Lethbridge will also need to play a full 60 minutes. The 3rd periods were a real point of weakness on the recent eastern swing. That’s a riddle that the Canes will have to solve if they hope to skate away with 2 points this evening.
I fully expect that Kord Pankewicz will suit up again tonight after a stint in the bleachers versus the Regina Pats on Sunday afternoon. Aside from that I’m not going to speculate about any further roster moves for the skaters in this one.
I’m guessing that Jayden Sittler is going to get the nod in net tonight. He was outstanding in his last game versus Brandon, where he earned the second-star with a stellar 41 save performance. I anticipate that Sittler will go save-for-save with Hart in what will likely be a netminders’ duel.
Game Day Prediction: This game will be reminiscent of some “ole time hockey”, but the Canes will be re-energized by a return home and come away with a 3-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: The goalies standout in this one taking first and second stars.
Not So Obvious Game Day Prediction: Carter Folk gets a Gordie Howe hat trick in this one and secures the other star for the Canes.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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Professional student, prospective teacher. Red Wings/Blue Jays/49ers super-fan. Proud general manager of Team Mono and the Slumlords in a pair of fantasy hockey keeper leagues. Is there anything better than soup and sandwich? Twitter: @jsvsakamoto.