GDB 43.0: BACK IN THE SADDLE
Aaaaaand we’re back for another game day preview, this time, the local hockey heroes face off against the Swift Current Broncos in a rematch of last weeks 5-2 Hurricanes home victory.
Preview after the break.
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For the second time in less than ten days, the Bronco’s and Hurricanes will renew acquaintances (this time in SC). It’s always difficult writing a second preview about a team the Canes just played because not much has happened between now and the last time they met. We will, however, try our best to keep things engaging.
This is a meeting between two teams on different ends of the standings. The shockingly good Hurricanes sit atop the Eastern conference, while the transitioning Broncos just spent the last two weeks making trades for their future. The Hurricanes aren’t just shockingly good, they’re also red hot of late, posting a 9-1-0-0 in their last 10. They are by far the hottest team in the league and it will be a challenge for Swift Current to try and contain them.
Just as it was a week ago, the Hurricanes once again enter the game as the odds-on favorites. But as we know, jr. hockey is far from predictable, and the Bronco’s played Lethbridge close in their last meeting. Things happen a little quicker at the Iplex in Speedy Creek. The ice surface is a touch smaller than most, and it’s a feature that tends to play in the favour of the home team.
What should we look to see…?
The Bronco’s are coming off of a 4-3 loss at the hands of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Swift Current scored first, but the Warriors managed to score four goals in the final two periods to sink them in Swift Current. Travis Child was in net for the loss, stopping 27-31 shots he faced. Now that Landon Bow is a Thunderbird, the Bronco’s netminding duties will be split between Child and Taz Burman. I’m not sure who we will see tonight, but both are young (‘97s) and should push one another as the remainder of the season plays out.
One of the standouts in Swift Current is young defenseman Max Lajoie. He’s gotten some buzz around the league and around hockey circles for good reason. In Craig Button’s latest draft rankings, Lajoie is ranked 88th, putting him somewhere around the 3rd or 4th round in this years entry draft. He’s a promising player, and one the Bronco’s must be happy to have. Lajoie is quite capable when it comes to the offensive side of the game. He’s posted 20 points in 42 games played, including a goal and an assist in their loss to Moose Jaw. His 20 points leads Broncos defensemen in scoring. There’s plenty of room for improvement, but Lajoie is an important part of their lineup and could help propel Swift Current to a win against Lethbridge.
The Broncos are one of the few teams to have escaped the Enmax Centre with a point. Before their season took a what I will call a dive, Swift Current gave the Hurricanes fits in their first meeting. Jon Martin and Jake DeBrusk caused all sorts of problems for the Canes, and it took a thrilling three on three overtime sequence for Lethbridge to win. Much has changed between now and then for both clubs, but from what I saw last week in Lethbridge, the Bronco’s have plenty of life. Barring a miraculous second half, they aren’t making the playoffs, but those of us who watched the Hurricanes last season know that “bad” teams can turn things around quickly. The trades they made over the last week might spur them on (pardon the pun) to a strong finish.
For a long time this section has been pretty ho-hum. Lethbridge was on fire heading into the holidays and on fire coming out. It’s actually kind of difficult to talk about wins time and time again (I know…. cry me a river right?). The analysis can start to sound the same and it’s not very colourful writing. The Hurricanes were also fortunate to be healthy for the majority of the first half of the season and there wasn’t always much to speculate on.
Throw all that out the window because it’s changed. The Hurricanes are still winning at an astounding rate, but there are plenty of questions heading into tonight’s matchup. Between the flu and a couple of injuries, I’m not entirely confident of what the lineup will be. Starting with the flu, both Darian Skeoch and Stuart Skinner have been feeling under the weather. Based on their status Saturday, I am proceeding under the impression that both are questionable heading into tonight’s game.
Moving on, Ryley Lindgren is doubtful to see action. I can confirm he is likely a few games away from a return It’s my understanding that he suffered a minor strain from the hit he took in Red Deer (not exactly shocking news to anyone who saw the hit). I expect him back in a week or two but it’s not my place to make bold timeline claims on injuries so we will all have to wait and see if that holds true. Polei has been handed a three game suspension for the play.
Lindgren’s absence may pave the way for newly acquired Colton Kroeker to make his debut up the middle. How Kroeker is deployed may also depend on the status of Carter Folk. The big gritty winger took a hard hit in the Hurricanes win over Kootenay on Saturday night, and didn’t return after leaving the game. My guess is a shoulder issue but I’ve heard nothing so know that’s pure speculation. Carter is hard to replace so let’s all hope it’s nothing too serious. As far as Kroeker is concerned, chatting with some Pats fans on Twitter, I got the impression he’s spent a fair amount of time playing the wing in Regina. It sounds like he is a big versatile player and I saw one Pats fan bemoaning the trade because Kroeker has been improving at a rapid pace. It’s always exciting to add a new player at the deadline and, if he draws in, watching Kroeker should add an interesting new wrinkle into the broader story.
All that in mind, we will likely see some fairly interesting line combos tonight and it should be fun to see who steps up to fill the holes.
As Barry noted in the comment section, the WHL weekly news report has Carter Folk listed as week to week. You can see the entire post here.
GDP: The Hurricanes carry on their winning ways and take another two points from the Broncos. Final score, 4 – 3 Canes.
OGDP: Fresh off some draft list attention from Craig Button, Brayden Burke scores himself another goal.
NSOGDP: Kroeker draws in and makes an immediate impact with a goal and an assist. Joining a new team usually gives a player an extra shot of energy and tonight it serves him well.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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