GDB 30.0: HIGHWAY THROUGH HELL *UPDATED*
So this is it. The pre-Christmas schedule ends, not with a whimper, but with a greuling bang. Tonight the Hurricanes begin a brutal six game road trip before some much needed rest over Christmas. The trip sees the team visit Brandon, Regina, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Edmonton and finally, Red Deer. It’s not an easy stretch, and depending on your opinion of Saskatchewan in December, hell may be the best analogy.
There’s only one way through it, and it starts in Brandon.
Preview Brought to You by:
Tonight proves to be an exciting affair. The Wheat Kings and Hurricanes have already traded wins this season, with both teams nabbing two points on home-ice. The Hurricanes were the most recent victors, and it stands to reason that Brandon will be eager to return the favour. Tonight’s game is also one with significant implications in the standings. The Hurricanes and Wheaties are neck and neck in the Eastern Conference and each point is precious. Considering the condensed nature of the games, and the quality of their opposition, it will be important for the Hurricanes to get off to a strong start on this trip.
It wasn’t the case last time they went out East, a trip that saw the Hurricanes come home win-less in losses to Brandon, Regina, and Moose Jaw. The most difficult aspect to swallow on that occasion was that Lethbridge had held a lead in all three games, yet failed to capture even a single point. It was a discouraging stretch, but ultimately just a blip on an otherwise sunny radar.
The Hurricanes played a pretty good game last time they were in Brandon. They pushed the Wheat Kings to the brink, but it wasn’t meant to be.
What will we be in for tonight?
The Wheat Kings have been good this season, but considering the expectations heading into the year, ‘good’ hasn’t cut it with some fans. Brandon has being troublingly inconsistent for a team some believed destined to be in contention for the WHL championship. Of course, it’s only December, and Brandon hasn’t been terrible, so a championship season isn’t off the books by any means. I do think however, that it’s fair to say their seasons just not going the way most expected.
Brandon boasts a .650 winning percentage and has been playing decent of late, posting a 6-3-1-0 in their last ten games. The Wheat Kings have gone against the grain (pun intended), and proven to be better on the road (11-4-0-0) than at home where they have a 7-5-1-2 record. It’s a trend that may bode well for the visiting Hurricanes.
Another factor that may help Lethbridge is the absence of some of Brandon’s top talent. Three of the Wheat Kings top players are away for the World Junior tournament, namely, Jayce Hawryluk, John Quenneville, and Ivan Provorov. It goes without saying that losing that much talent is going to difficult for Brandon to overcome, yet overcome they must. Despite the loss of Provorov, Quenneville, and Hawryluk, the Wheat Kings still boast an imposing lineup. Nolan Patrick is among lead leaders in scoring and has tallied 35 points in 30 games while Jordan Papirny has slowly settled-in as the season has progressed. Papirny is 8th among netminders in GAA at 2.74, and while they aren’t career numbers, Papirny is a solid netminder and I anticipate he will only improve as the year progresses.
With yesterday’s trade of Jaeger White, the Hurricanes are down to 12 forwards on the active roster. As such, I think it’s fair to assume all 12 will dress tonight. That said, the Canes have dressed seven defensemen on more than one occasion and all bets are off. It also raises the question, is another move coming? It would only make sense to see the Canes move to acquire another forward via trade, or potentially promote from within. I believe the latter scenario is less likely as the Canes already have youngsters Brett Davis and Nick Watson on the active roster and getting younger may not be a direction Anholt wants to head in. That, of course, is just speculation and we will have to wait and see.
Regardless, the Canes are at a bit of an advantage tonight. While Brandon has lost some of it’s top talent to the WJHC’s, the Hurricanes line-up is entirely intact. A discussion on why some of the Canes’ top players were passed over for the WJHC’s would be valid, but ultimately fruitless. All that matters now is the Canes have an opportunity to take advantage of teams missing their best players and Brandon is no exception.
Lethbridge is coming off of a fantastic week of hockey. They defeated the Calgary Hitmen last Wednesday, were shutout by the Raiders Friday, then buckled down and defeated the Rebels Saturday in front of a jam-packed Enmax Centre. Leading the charge for Lethbridge was Justin Gutierrez, Cory Millette, and Egor Babenko. Babenko is rapidly closing in on top spot in team scoring with 34 points on the season. Only Brayden Burke has more with 40. Speaking of Brayden Burke, he has been incredible for the Canes this season. Brayden is well over a point per game and sits at +16 on the season – pretty remarkable for a guy that not many were talking about this off season. Burke has taken the league by storm and has to opening the eyes of NHL scouts as they draft lists for this years draft.
THIS AND THAT
Last night I had the chance to go check out the Christmas Hope Hockey Challenge at Nicholas Sheran Arena. It was a fun night and it was great to see so many different facets of the city on full display. There was ice dancing, figure skating, sledge hockey, and ringette during the intermissions. Good on everyone who organized the event and I can’t help but describe it as a success. Looking forward to next year already.
If Saskatchewan isn’t hell in the winter than Manitoba HAS to be….
GDP: The Hurricanes finish the job they started last time they visited Brandon and pull out a big win. 3-2 final.
OGDP: Vandervlis manages to score a goal tonight. He had a good nose for the net on Saturday against the Rebels and I have a feeling tonight is his night.
NSOGDP: Riding high off his breakout performance against team City in the Christmas Hope hockey game, Peter Anholt, after driving all night to join the team in Brandon, decides to lace them up. He scores a Gordy Howe hat trick but is later disqualified for an age violation.
CANES ADD DUPERREAULT
After trading Jaeger White yesterday, we speculated whether a trade or call-up was imminent. I went so far as to suggest that a trade was more likely. Well, I was wrong. As it turned out, the Canes elected to bring back 19-year-old journeyman Ben Duperreault. Duperreault was with the team in training camp as an invite. He made it to the bitter end, but was eventually released in favour of a few players with more veteran status with the club. I have no doubt it was a tough decision and bringing him back only affirms that position. Ben has been playing exceptionally well in the SJHL with the Hounds, putting up 28 points in 25 games.
My guess is he will either have joined the team in Brandon last night, or early today. Brandon is about three hours from Wilcox. I’m not sure he will play tonight, but I imagine he will be in the lineup tomorrow in Regina. That is, of course, only speculation. Regardless, the Canes once again have a thirteenth forward on the roster. The move makes them a little older and it may serve the team well as we start moving towards the second half of the season.
He is the full release by the official website,
Regina, SK – The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club announced Friday that they had added forward Ben Duperreault to their roster.
Duperreault, 19, started the season with the Hurricanes appearing in the season opener on September 25th against the Medicine Hat Tigers before being re-assigned to the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. In 25 games this season with the Hounds, the 1996-born forward has put up 28 points (12g-16a) along with 49 penalty minutes.
Last year with the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Wilcox, Saskatchewan, product appeared in 34 games collecting five points (1g-4a) and four penalty minutes.
The addition of Duperreault comes after the trade of Jaeger White to the Everett Silvertips. With Duperreault, the Hurricanes roster remains at 22, including: 13 forwards, seven defense and two goaltenders.
The Hurricanes kick off a six-game pre-Christmas road trip tonight when they visit the Brandon Wheat Kings at 6:30pm mountain time.
Welcome back Ben! Lethbridge is happy to have you.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
Don’t forget to check out the sponsor of all this season’s game day articles, Graham Reimer of Dominion Lending here in Lethbridge. I personally know and vouch for the amazing work he does. If you need any advice or help with a mortgage or want to look into getting one, I cannot say enough good things about Graham and the Mortgage Crusher team.
Remember to tell him Canes Domain sent you!