GDB 6.0: AC/DC
One of histories greatest rivalries was between arguably two of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century. Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison spent a great deal of time locked in fierce competition. To say they disliked one another would be a gross understatement. Much to Tesla’s dismay, Edison’s preference for direct current electricity ultimately became the world standard. The method of powering our homes, phones, offices, and toys today, flows directly from Thomas Edison.
It appeared for a long time that Edison had won the rivalry outright, but Tesla’s work has made a significant comeback in the 21st century. The Tesla motor company, for example, uses an ultra efficient motor that is a direct descendant of Nikola’s work.
Each and every day, we are affected by the intellectual rivalry between the two inventors. While neither is still alive, their rivalry wages on.
Tonight the Hurricanes and Tigers renew their own rivalry.
Who will come out on top, and will it stay that way?
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For the third time in less than three weeks, tonight the Hurricanes will take on the Tigers. The two teams traded wins on the opening weekend of the WHL season. Lethbridge took the opener at home convincingly but lost the following night in Medicine Hat. The Tigers pounced on early Hurricane penalties and chased Stuart Skinner with three goals in the first ten minutes. From that point on, the Hurricanes played much better but couldn’t overcome their early mistakes.
Things got feisty between the two clubs in the first game but settled down in the second. Depending on how the game progresses, don’t be surprised if there are some big hits and fights in this one. It’s great to see the Hurricanes and Tigers be so evenly matched. There have been some classic games played between the two cities, but as the Hurricanes have struggled in recent years, animosity between the two clubs has been more fabricated than legitimate. If both teams are locked in a close race for the playoffs, this season could provide us with some instant classic games.
The Tigers, like the Hurricanes, have gotten out to a pretty average start. They currently sit at 2-2-1-0 and are coming off a high scoring home loss to the Kelowna Rockets. Prior to that, the Tigers lost in overtime to the Prince Albert Raiders and will be looking to get back in the win column tonight in Lethbridge.
The two big guns for the Tigers, Cole Sanford and Trevor Cox, have met expectations early. Together, Sandford and Cox lead the Tigers with a combined 17 points (9 and 8 respectively). It goes without saying that the Hurricanes will need to limit their effectiveness if they want to win tonight. The Tigers are a good team, but they aren’t as deep as past years. While the Hurricanes don’t have established pure snipers like Medicine Hat, Lethbridge has managed to put up some impressive offense and boasts a deep forward pool.
I expect another entertaining game tonight. The Hurricanes home opener was one of the best games I have been to in years. There were fights, penalties, breakaways, and at the end of it all, Lethbridge actually won. The crowd was loving it the night of the opener, and I really hope to see a solid crowd again tonight. There are plenty of reasons to start getting excited about this years Lethbridge Hurricanes. Five games in, they boast an elite level powerplay and two skaters in the top ten of WHL scoring. They have competed exceptionally well and really look to be working together as an effective team. The Hurricanes have outshot their oppenents in all but their opening game against the Tigers, and have arguably been the harder working team through four of five games.
Things may slide and the Hurrianes might not be able to sustain their early season success, but I don’t currently see any obvious red-flags. Their win’s havn’t required a superhuman effort from any one player and I can honestly say that they deserved each one to this point.
There’s a long way to go yet, but the optimism generated in the offseason looks to be well-founded.
Projected Line Up:
I don’t expect any changes in the top six. The Hurricanes top line has been one of the best in the league, and Babenko played his best game beside Gutierrez and Millette of the season Tuesday. Kisio may elect to put Burke back up with Estephan and Wong situationally, but look for Bellerive to keep skating with those two on the regular.
In the bottom six there could be some minor adjustments made. Namely, Brett Davis and Sheen have been taking turns as healthy scratches. We will have to see who is in at gametime. The de facto third line of Lindgren, Folk and White has been a solid defensive unit through five games. They haven’t generated much in the way of offense, but they have been a big part of the Hurricanes early season success. Lindgren has quickly become the go-to guy in key faceoff moments, specifically in the defensive end.
The Canes are coming off another big win where they generated 40 shots. Don’t expect much to change.
The defense seems to continue to evolve. Atwal and Pankewicz have become a pretty solid pairing and I don’t see them being split up as long as Merezhko is in the lineup. While they are both prone to the occasional mistake and bad turnover, the Atwal Pankewicz pairing has also been good at relieving pressure and blocking shots. Both guys are good puck movers as well, making them a threat offensively.
The Ex-Presidents pairing of Kennedy and Reagan will probably stay together once again. They played much better Tuesday than Sunday, but there were some scrambly moments where Sittler had to give them a hand against the Rebels. These guys have been playing together all throughout camp, pre season, and the first few games, so look for that to continue tonight. The success of the season will hinge largely on the depth defenseman being able to handle the minutes they are given. The Ex-President’s don’t need to do anything more than they are asked. If they can keep things smart, simple, and eat 10-15 min a night, the Hurricanes will be looking good. If not, the coaches will be forced to keep double shifting Nielsen.
Nielsen hasn’t had a consistent defensive partner yet this year. When he is in the lineup, Merezhko has been paired with the Maple Leafs’ prospect, but I’m not sure Merezhko will be dressed. Tonight promises to be an aggressive, chippy affair. I’m not sure what they will decide, but adding big Darian Skeoch for a hard hitting game might mean Merezhko takes a seat. If Skeoch does draw in, the pairings will likely shift to what you see in the picture above.
A case could be made for starting either Skinner or Sittler. Sittler has won the two games he has started, and is coming off a key victory against the talented Rebels. Skinner on the other hand, has been pulled in two straight starts. That said, Skinner almost pitched a shutout against the Tigers in the opening game and didn’t get much help from his team in the rematch. Will they elect to give him another shot at the Tigers?
It’s a tough decision because you want to reward Sittler for his solid play, but also want to get Skinner some minutes and a chance to put the two tough starts behind him.
I think they will start Skinner, but I was wrong Tuesday and may be again. I have Sittler penciled in above… I have a sneaking suspicion Skinner goes tonight regardless.
This and That:
- While I’ve noted that Sittler has been the better of the two netminders, remember that five games is an extremely small sample size. Stuart Skinner did something very special last season, but he shouldn’t be needed or expected to repeat it. Remember he still has three years left in the league after this season (I think. Someone correct me if I’m wrong) and doesn’t need to start 50+ games for the Hurricanes this year. There’s no controversy here. While some expected Skinner to be the defacto starter heading into the season, there is nothing wrong with him splitting starts with Sittler. Sittler getting half (or more than half) of the starts may come as a surprise to outsiders, but keen-eyed Hurricanes fans will understand the benefit two solid netminders are to a team. Think long term and understand that Skinner is still the younger of the two netminders. Let them push one another and develop some healthy competition in the crease.
- I’m planning to write a piece on local fans and attendance but here are a few thoughts for now. I understand that the Hurricanes just played two home games on nights that have traditionally been a tough draw. I get it. Basing thoughts about overall attendance figures on two games isn’t overly wise either. BUT, oh boy do things need to change if this team wants to climb out of debt. For whatever reason, Sundays and Tuesdays are a struggle at the Hurricanes ticket office. Maybe this week people were watching baseball, election coverage, The Martian on cheap night at Galaxy…. I dont really know. What I do know is that sub 3,000 crowds are not a good omen for this franchise, and sub 2,000… need I say more? There has to be more than 2,000 fans of hockey in this city. Why aren’t they coming to a Tuesday night game? I want to know. If you are one of these people, please comment below. I think a challenge ought to be put out to the diehard hockey fans and supporters of this team. If you enjoy watching WHL hockey in Lethbridge and want to ensure it remains here (whether community owned or not), you have a huge responsibility to market the product. It’s my opinion that the Hurricanes have damaged their brand over recent years. Not exactly a groundbreaking revelation. The best marketing plan in the world implemented and distributed by the Hurricanes organization wouldn’t be ultra-effective at filling seats because… it’s the Hurricanes. Not exactly putting it lightly, but I havn’t seen much to prove otherwise. Not having sustained success for twenty years has a tendency to hurt your reputation. The point here is that if you like having a WHL team here and are mature enough to see the team struggles to market itself (for a plethora of reasons), then YOU need to accept responsibility to help sell the product yourself. Do you enjoy going to games? Well maybe your friends will too. Why not invite them? Maybe you know people that used to own season tickets but got away from them in recent dark years… maybe mention now is a good time to get back on-board? I know it’s work, but if you want to see major junior hockey here long term (whether private community owned), you need to understand the power of YOUR voice in selling the product. Grassroots marketing through word of mouth will be much more effective than anything the team could put together itself. I wonder how many of you out there are so upset with the community ownership system that you have completely forgone going to games as a form of protest? Are you a big group? I truly want to know. Just because no one mentioned the word “sale” at the AGM doesn’t mean much if six months from now the team has hemorrhaged another few tens/hundreds of thousands. I heard a plethora of excuses for the attendance on Tuesday evening. Tonight there are NONE. It’s a prime time Friday night home game against the team’s biggest rivals. If we don’t see 3,500+ … trouble on the horizon. Can this team afford to wait for February to see attendance start to climb? Is playoffs enough to tip the scales?
Game Day Prediction: The Hurricanes play another solid game and put together their first winning streak of the season. 3-2 Hurricanes
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Sanford and Cox combine for at least one Tiger goal.
Not So Obvious Game Day Prediction: Jaeger White, who’s been pretty quiet offensively, comes around against his hometown Tigers and chips in with a goal and an assist.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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