GDB 46.0: THE SOUND OF SILENCE
“Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again…”
It’s a dark and brooding line delivered in a fluid and melodic way. Simon & Garfunkel were able to use their signature harmonies to make even the most depressing lines sound beautiful. Maybe you were around when the song was released back in the late 60’s and it brings up a nostalgic memory, or you’re more like me, and you just think of Will Ferrell with a tranquilizer gun in Old School. Either way, it’s an iconic song and, as music often does, it triggers other memories and life experiences.
Tonight the Spokane Chiefs pay visit to the Enmax Centre. Much like “The Sound of Silence”, seeing Spokane up against the Canes here in Lethbridge is likely to bring back some memories – both dark and friendly.The last time I saw them, they were skating around the Enmax ice as WHL Champions. I didn’t miss a single playoff game back in ‘08, and as it turned out, I had friends playing for both teams in the league finals.
It was exciting. The Hurricanes were sensational, the Enmax was loud, and as great as those memories are, it all came crashing down in four games straight. Much has changed between now and then, and needless to say, these are not the ‘08 Hurricanes. The faces are different, the jersey’s and logos are different, and many of the fans are even different. Things change, but not all for the worst.
Hello Spokane, our old friend… We welcome you to the Enmax again.
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I always look forward to teams from the US Division playing here in Lethbridge. It’s a rare occasion, and it has a way of shaking thing up around the rink. There are always large groups of closet Chiefs, Silvertips, Americans, Thunderbirds, and Winterhawk fans that flood in to see their team, injecting some fresh life and faces into the crowd. As someone who closely follows and cares for jersey design and logos, it’s a thrill to see something different out on the ice for a change. We are fed a steady diet of Medicine Hat, Kootenay, and Calgary, so I get curious when the dark forest greens of Everett or the ‘Habs inspired flare of the Chiefs hit our ice (I’m partial to the Silvertips, Thunderbirds and Chiefs jerseys personally).
Teams from the US have a certain air about them. The fans down there are incredibly passionate and they come out in droves. Four of the five teams in the US Division are in the top half of overall league attendance ranking, with Portland sitting in second, and Spokane in sixth, both averaging well over 5,000 fans per game. Hockey is alive and well in the Pacific North West.
On a personal level, I’ve experience the passion of American WHL fans first hand through this website. Since it’s inception this summer, I’ve consistently been interacted with and reached out to by passionate fans of the Silvertips, Thunderbirds, and Winterhawks on Twitter. They have such a love for the league, they often check in with Canes Domain and get involved and invested with what we have going out here in Lethbridge. It’s fantastic, and I wish there was as much passion and grass roots interest in the WHL here in Alberta and Saskatchewan as there seems to be in Washington and Oregon. If you want to tap into the US Division blog scene, check out Hodges Heroes or listen to the Pucklandia Podcast. Both great sources and friends of Canes Domain.
Now let’s talk tonight’s game.
The Chiefs are having themselves a decent season, but they aren’t without their faults. Spokane currently sits fourth in their division with 45 point, but they remain within striking distance of second place Seattle who sits with 53. The US Division has proven to be highly competitive. Only Tri-City has a sub .500 record, and they have been improving rapidly. It’s not yet February, but every point matters for the Chiefs. They need to keep pace with Seattle and Portland, but can also smell the Americans getting closer from behind. I anticipate a hungry Spokane Chiefs tonight.
Spokane hasn’t been sensational since the Christmas break, having posted a 4-5-0-1 in their last ten games. They are currently riding a one game losing streak. A big part of their struggle has been winning on the road. The Chiefs have a 13-9-1-1 record at home, and a 9-13-1-0 record on the road. How will they fare against the team with the best home record in the WHL? We will have to wait and see, but the numbers are in Lethbridge’s favor.
If they Hurricanes want the win, they will have to key in on Kailer Yamamoto (pictured). Much of the Chiefs offense is run through Kailer, and he sits 5th in total league wide assists (He’s recorded 40). For some context, Brayden Burke leads that category with 52. Yamamoto plays a similar role, and from a personal standpoint, I look forward to watching him and how the Hurricanes try shut him down.
Lethbridge will also need to watch out for defender Jason Fram. Fram is just returning from injury, but having recorded 35 points through 41 games played, has been a big part of the Chiefs offense this season. Muck like the Yamamoto/Burke comparison, Frame sits 8th in league wide defensive points leaders, a category led by Hurricanes defenseman Andrew Nielsen (50 points in 45 games).
It’s a decent drive from Spokane to Lethbridge, but I don’t imagine the Chiefs will be too worse for wear. This is their first game on what is actually a very short road trip. Spokane plays Lethbridge tonight, then jump over to Cranbrook to take on the ICE, before heading back to Washington state. The Chiefs, like the Hurricanes haven’t played for a few days, and should be well rested.
I could just write, “Everything is good” and move on to the game day predictions, but I suppose I’ll take a moment to expand.
The Hurricanes are on fire. They are the hottest team in the WHL and will be looking to attain their second 8 game winning streak of the season tonight. Lethbridge is coming off of a sensational week of hockey. They beat Swift Current quite handily last Wednesday, pummeled the Blazers Friday night, then closed out the week by squeaking past the Raiders in OT. The Hurricanes are firing on all cylinders at the moment. The 7 game winning streak they are on has catapulted them into 1st place in the WHL where they hold a 1 point lead on the deadly Kelowna Rockets (Both teams have played 45 games).
The crazy thing is the Hurricanes have put this winning streak together amidst an evolving lineup. Carter Folk, Ryley Lindgren, Darian Skeoch, and Stuart Skinner were all out of the lineup due to either injury or illness, the team threw newcomer Colton Kroeker right into the fire, and none of it seemed to matter. The Hurricanes kept on winning.
With Skinner and Skeoch now back in action, and Carter Folk listed as day to day, it appears the team is getting close to healthy. It’s possible Folk plays tonight, but the skeptic in me thinks Saturday night is a more likely return date for the bruising winger. As far as Lindgren is concerned, there is no need to rush him back into action, and I hope they take their time. He was involved in a nasty knee on knee collision two weeks ago in Red Deer and has been working to heal up ever since then. Lindgren is a key part of the club, and does fantastic work in the faceoff dot. The team misses him, but considering they haven’t lost since he’s gone down to injury, they are more than capable of success with the current lineup. When he’s good and healthy, Lindgren will be back and better than ever.
Don’t look now, but Cory Millette has scored 5 goals in his last three games. It’s a pretty nice streak and those goals were essential to the team’s success over the weekend. When the rest of the offense dried up against the Raiders, Millette put his work boots on and scored two hard working goals. Another Hurricane overager with a streak is Arvin Atwal. Atwal has assists in 7 straight games, 11 to be precise. Arvin has been playing some of his best hockey of the season over the last two weeks.
Speaking of streaks, Giorgio Estephan is riding an 11 game point streak. Over that time, Estephan has recorded 18 points, none bigger than his overtime beauty on Saturday night.
GDP: The Hurricanes again hit the 5 goal plateau and skate away 5-3 winners.
OGDP: Someone will yell “shoot!!!!” at the top of their lungs ten seconds into the Hurricanes first powerplay…
NSOGDP: …Looking to improve their league-leading powerplay, the Hurricanes will pull that person out of the crowd, name them special teams coach, ride their flawless “shoot” strategy to a perfect regular season, playoffs, and eventual Memorial Cup tournament.
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!