GDB 55.0: TEAM AMERICA
Can you smell it? Breath in deep – reeeeeeaaaaalllllly deep – and you might just catch a whiff.
A whiff of what you say?
The whiff of freedom my friends. The whiff of freedom that only 2 x Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 pitch thrust vectoring turbofans can deliver straight to your face at Mach 2.25.
Preview Brought to You by:
Like those little “blink and you might miss it” one-horse towns in rural Mississippi – tonight’s game is a rarity you don’t want to miss. The Tri City Americans are in town to take on the Hurricanes at SIX O’CLOCK, and since the US Division teams only come around every two years, my suggestion is to find a way out to this one.
Hammer the start time through your skull so you’re not late.
6 o’clock. 6. VI. SIX.
Tonight’s game was bumped up an hour on account of the Canes having to play a matinee in Edmonton tomorrow.
What kind of strange world are we living in?? An unusual team from a strange land has come to pay visit, the game is starting at 6 on a Friday… my mind just… just can’t compute.
It’s going to be a fun night. It’s the Hurricanes only home matchup this weekend and I have high hopes it will be a full barn tonight. From a blog-news perspective, Jeremy will be walking you through the game tonight with the post game. I’ll be there manning social media for those of you on Twitter.
As for programming, we will have our usual pre-game for tomorrow’s game up early on the site, BUT….
There will be no post game coverage for Saturday OR Sunday’s games. It’s a long weekend and the Canes Domain crew is taking advantage of it. Sorry to those who regularly check-in. We will be back in full force after Sunday.
Now, about tonight’s game…
Let me just level with all of you.
There might not be another team in the entire WHL I am less familiar with than Tri. It’s been a sub par season for the Americans, they don’t boast many household names, and this will be my first exposure to them this season.
It’s actually part of what makes me so interested in tonight’s game.
While I mentioned it’s been a sub par season, the Ams have really turned things around of late and have gotten back into playoff contention. With a 7-2-0-1 record in their last ten and points in six straight, Tri-City is now just three points back of Portland and five short of Spokane.
The accusations of a “sub-par season” now seem a little dramatic. Tonight marks the ¾ point in their season and their 25-25-2-1 record really isn’t too shabby.
The Ams aren’t loaded with high profile names, but there are a handful of really nice pieces on their roster. 20 year old Parker Bowles is leading the charge offensively. Bowles has 71 points through 53 games, 30 of which are goals. Somehow he’s also a team worst (tied), -14. Interesting stat, but without more context I’m not entirely sure what it means.
You may also want to watch for Parker Wotherspoon and Brandon Carlo on the Americans blueline. Both players were taken in last spring’s NHL Entry Draft. Carlo was a 2nd round pick (Boston) and Wotherspoon went in the 4th (NY Islanders). With the Ams still a good shot away from playoffs back in January, there was chatter around the league that one of these two players could be traded. I’m sure Tri-City is happy about their decision to keep them now.
Wotherspoon has proven to be more of an offensive threat than Carlo. With 46 points through 52 games, Parker seems to have found another level in the offensive zone. His previous season high points total was 42, and with over 20 games remaining, he’s on pace to demolish it. That said, Wotherspoon shares the honors of a team worst +/- with Bowles.
Carlo may not have the points (he’s posted 18 through 33 games) but he is a +1 on the season. He’s a player I’ll have my eyes on tonight for sure.
Finally, defenseman Dylan Coghlan and netminder Evan Sarthou are on the radar for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Both are projected somewhere around the 5th round and they may be players you want to take a look at. The Americans are in a pretty good place with so many stellar defenders and a stud young netminder. It wasn’t that long ago a young Carey Price tended the goal for the Ams.
What’s in-store for Sarthou?
- Riley Hillis, D, upper body, indefinite
- Kyle Olson, F, lower body, indefinite
- Taylor Vickerman, F, upper body, indefinite
It’s been a crazy two weeks for the Hurricanes. Their ten game winning streak came to a grinding halt. They found themselves on a three game losing streak – beat the Warriors to snap it – then got shut out by the Kootenay Ice. Wednesday night the team buckled down and beat Saskatoon 7-4 – bringing us to today.
The final score wasn’t really indicative of how Wednesday’s game played out. The Blades were pretty good through the first two periods and the Hurricanes offense looked a little frustrated after the 1st period. There was a huge 3rd period scoring outburst but I can’t help but be a little skeptical at the moment. With a few key injuries and the flu making another pass through the roster, I’m not sure the Canes’ are primed the fire on all cylinders right now.
That, however, could be totally off-base. It’s just hard to pin things down of late. No matter how you look at it, Lethbridge is missing it’s top two centers at the moment. It’s a loss very few teams could cope with, and the game in Kootenay aside, Lethbridge is making out alright.
At least for now…
Depending on how aggressive the flu bug really is, it’s possible we see another player or two scratched tonight. Wednesday it was Colton Kroeker sitting out, forcing Arvin Atwal to play wing on the top line with Burke and Wong. Atwal is a perfect fit for double duty. He can skate like the wind, has great vision, and some soft hands in-tight. He scored a big goal in his forward debut and it’s entirely possible he’s in the top six again.
Tyler Wong has really stepped up and owned his new role as a centre. He might not be a faceoff expert, but considering it’s (hopefully) a stop-gap, he’s done well.
Could tonight be the night we see the return of Justin Gutierrez? His former team is in town and it would be great to see him back in the lineup. Of course, if his “upper body injury” is what I suspect, rushing him back is absolutely not something that should be done. We all want to see the tall pivot back in the lineup, but some injuries just need more time and consideration than others.
He’s still listed as day to day and until we hear more, I’m going to assume he’s still sidelined.
- Giorgio Estephan, F, lower body, 5 weeks
- Justin Gutierrez, F, upper body, day to day
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Tri-City’s excellent young crop of defenders is able to contain the Hurricanes with some help from Sarthou. Visitors win 3-2.
OBVIOUS GDP: There will be a select few people that show up at 7pm.
NOT SO OBVIOUS GDP: The Hurricanes will run a secret promotion called “American Night”. Anyone who wears a NASCAR or Budweiser shirt will qualify to win a 2 for 1 coupon to Carl’s Jr.
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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