GDB 52.0: Hunting Party
(Photo Credit: Matthew Gourlie)
When you say “Moose Jaw Warriors”, the first name that comes to mind is usually the captain, Brayden Point. Point is an exceptional player, and while he deserves accolades and recognition for what he brings to the team, he’s not the only elite point-getter the Warriors have.
Dryden Hunt, one of Point’s regular wingers, has been exceptional in his own right this season. The 6’0 201 lb overager, just recently overtook Brayden Burke as the WHL’s leading point-getter. In 52 games played, Hunt has recorded 32 goals and 44 assists, good for 76 points.
The last time Hunt and the Warriors were in town, Lethbridge escaped with a thrilling 4 – 3 overtime win.
If tonight’s home match-up is anything like that game – we’re in for a treat.
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It was only two weeks ago that the Warriors were last in Lethbridge. As I mentioned in the introduction, it was an exceptional game. Lethbridge came out absolutely flying, scored an early goal, and put the Warriors on their heels. Moose Jaw flexed it offensive muscle later in that game and gave the Hurricanes all sorts of trouble.
It was a very well contested game and overtime was fitting. Tyler Wong was the hero on that night, but Lethbridge very nearly let that game slip away. The next night they played a somewhat uninspired game against the Oil Kings, and despite winning, you got the feeling things were starting to catch up with them.
It should be a fun night to head down to the Enmax. The Hurricanes are running with a “western” theme promotion, complete with old fashioned western themed jerseys that we be auctioned off afterwards. I haven’t actually seen them, but word on the street is they have bullet holes and sheriff badges…should be interesting to say the least.
It’s the first home game since the win over Edmonton 11 days ago and it’s a Friday night. I would be sure to head to the rink early because it promises to be busy.
I’ll be disappointed if the attendance isn’t upwards of 4,500.
Dust off your spurs and chaps! We’re going western.
Things haven’t been going well for the Warriors of late. The losses have been piling up, and considering they elected not to sell off many assets at the deadline, you have to think Moose Jaw is feeling some pressure to turn things around. They are coming off a loss to Brandon and have posted a 3-5-2-0 in their last ten. The Warriors currently hold a playoff spot and sit third in the Eastern Division, but Edmonton, Swift Current, Regina and Medicine Hat are hot on their heels.
The Warriors are a transitioning team, and based on the preseason prognostications around the league, are about where most expected them to be. They have some very impressive top end talent, and a couple of nice young players, but the depth has not proven to be there. Hunt, Point and Gregor combine for 36% of the Warriors overall team points total.
For his part, Gregor is looking to be a sensational junior hockey player. The freshman sits 3rd in rookie scoring with 48 points through 52 games and is third in team scoring as well. With Hunt and Point both moving on next season, Gregor is a name to watch.
Defenseman Marc McNulty is another foundational part of this seasons Warriors club. Having recorded 41 points through 49 games from the blue line, McNulty has shown offense is a strength of his game. McNulty is the engine that drives the Warriors back end and has assisted on 23% of Warriors goals in ‘15-’16.
Overall, Moose Jaw is a good (but not great) team that will be hungry to get things back on track. They are top loaded and will be looking for their big guns to carry them to the win.
- Blake Bargar, F, upper body – day to day
- Josh Brook, D, upper body, day to day
So this is it. The first game the Hurricanes will play with Estephan down to an apparent ankle injury. If you missed the news earlier this week, the team confirmed that Giorgio Estephan will miss 3-6 weeks after going into the end boards hard in Kelowna. Anytime you lose one of the league’s top goal scorers it hurts, but injuries are a part of the game and at least for the next month, Lethbridge will need to find a way forward without him.
In other injury related news, Justin Gutierrez has been sidelined with an “upper body injury” for two weeks now. Over that time he’s missed five games. As of Monday, the injury was termed day to day, so it’s possible we see him return to the lineup tonight. Gutierrez has been missed. If he’s back, it’s likely we see the reformation of a line with he, Millette, and Babenko.
With Estephan injured early in Tuesday night’s game, Kisio was forced to shuffle the lines. One of the better forward trio’s turned out to be Wong, Bellerive, and Vandervlis. Bellerive got the Canes only goal against Kelowna, and were is not for a couple spectacular saves by Michael Herringer, that line could have easily scored three or four.
Another interesting wrinkle is the potential for Wong to play centre again tonight. Tyler isn’t a natural centre, but in their last meeting, Wong played up the middle and was tasked with shutting down Point. The Warriors captain was held off the scoresheet and it’s possible Kisio may elect to try Wong up the middle once again.
Outside of Davis, Sheen, and Duperreault likely forming the fourth line, and Lindgren and Folk making up 2/3rds of the third line, it’s hard to say for certain what tonight’s combos will be. There’s a lot of flexibility in this roster, so regardless of who Kisio mashes together, they stand a good chance to be successful.
Tonight I’ll be watching Colton Kroeker closely. I thought his game Tuesday night was the best he’s played as a Hurricane and I’m curious to see how he follows it up. He’s been good since coming over from Regina at the deadline, but I think there’s more there than we’ve seen. With some time to settle into his new surroundings, I think we might see some great hockey from him down the stretch.
All around I thought the Hurricane defense was good Tuesday night. Skeoch, Nielsen and Reagan were standouts, and aside of some firewagon moments, the team played a decent defensive game. I think what it boils down to with this group is the need to eliminate game changing mistakes. Both Rockets goals were generated by odd-man rushes and both stemmed from defensive errors (that stands for all five skaters, not just blueliners).
Blatant defensive mistakes often get overlooked when the team scores five goals per game, but when you’re up against a hot goalie and the goals don’t come, those mistakes get amplified. It’s the sort of hockey we’re likely to see in the playoffs and I for one am interested to see if this group is able to win 1 – 0 and 2 – 1 games down the stretch.
- Look for Skinner in goal tonight. He’s been playing his best hockey of the season of late, and I imagine Sittler will get the call against his former team, the Kootenay Ice, tomorrow.
GDP: The Canes will respond well and snap their losing streak at three games. They skate away with a 4 – 2 win.
OGDP: Tyler Wong will be disappointed he can’t actually wear chaps, a rodeo belt, and spurs on the ice for “Western night”. He will score and unleash the faux belt celly though…
NSOGDP: It’s a special occasion so tonight’s Hurricanes goal song will be (or at least it would be awesome if it was) “The Outsiders” by Eric Church.
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.
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