GDB 66.0: REINFORCEMENTS
Last night the Canes Domain crew took a breather. It turned out we all had prior commitments and none of us were able to cover the game in Saskatoon. Lo and behold the Hurricanes did a very bad thing to the Saskatoon Blades – a 10 – 3 whipping to be precise. It’s a rough couple of games if you’re the Blades. The game before last night’s loss they allowed 12 vs. Brandon… ouch. Not a great week for them… to say the least.
If you’re the Hurricanes though, you have to be feeling good again. At least for now, they appear to have taken the ideal path out of their five game skid. It looks like the rough patch served to galvanize the squad and they are once again firing on all cylinders. Since dropping five straight games, the Canes have responded in a resounding way. With three straight wins, two of which have come on the road, Lethbridge appears to be finding it’s stride.
Tonight they turn to face the Raiders, a team that’s been on it’s own unique journey this season.
More after the break.
Preview Brought to You by:
Today’s preview will be somewhat more abbreviated than usual. Let’s not waste any time.
Gametime tonight is 6:00 pm MST and you can catch it on WHL Live. We will be streaming the game and joining in the fun on Twitter. If you aren’t already on Twitter you should be! It’s the best way to keep connected to us, the team, and the league. It’s also a great way to interact with us, the team, and fellow hockey fans in Lethbridge and around the league.
Tonight marks the final regular season game the Hurricanes will play with a team outside of the Central Division. It’s entirely possible they will face one of Regina, Moose Jaw or Prince Albert in the first round (though PA is an outside chance) so don’t turn your back on Saskatchewan quite yet. It might be best to avoid that list of teams based on travel alone, but as we’ve seen in the past, it’s only one of many factors. When the Hurricanes went to the league final in ‘08 they played Brandon in the first round. It certainly wasn’t an issue for the team then and I don’t think we should fear a long-distant opponent now.
One thing at a time. There’s still games to be played.
Prince Albert remains one of the surprise stories in the Eastern Division. They weren’t expected to do much, and while they’ve tailed off a little from the pace of Brandon, the Raiders are still one of the top teams in the East. Prince Albert has been humming along of late. With a 5-3-2-0 record in their last 10, and riding a one game winning streak, the Raiders are in a good place.
They now trail Brandon by a full 10 points so winning the Division is likely out of the question. As such, they are in a similar spot to Lethbridge in that their remaining games are all about the process and the refinement of their play heading into the postseason. Also like Lethbridge, Prince Albert is facing pressure from the team immediately below them in the standings. Moose Jaw has been playing some of their best hockey of the season over the last two weeks and are now only four points back.
The Raiders need wins to hold onto their position in the standings, and based on their previous meetings, they will prove a difficult task for the Hurricanes. For whatever reason, the Raiders have given the Hurricanes some issues this season. While Lethbridge does hold the advantage in the season series at 2-1-0-0, none of those games have been “walk-offs”. From the two viewings we’ve had here in Lethbridge, I’ve been impressed with the Raiders team game. They’ve gotten some great goaltending in their games against Lethbridge and they work well as a collective defensive unit. I certainly don’t expect to see the high-octane style of game we’ve seen when the Canes face Regina or Saskatoon.
- The Raiders beat the Ice 7-1 last night in Prince Albert.
- Rylan Parenteau got the start and the win – likely setting up Ian Scott for the call tonight. Scott pitched a shutout against the Hurricanes at the Enmax earlier this season (Dec 4th).
- Overager Jordan Tkatch registered a hattrick in last night’s game.
The Hurricanes are a better team with Giorgio Estephan in the lineup. How’s that for hard hitting journalism… While it might not blow your mind as a new concept, the proof is in the pudding. Estephan was credited with two goals in last night’s win over Saskatoon and it’s clear that his return was a factor in the offensive outpouring.
Giorgio’s return is transformative because of his role as number one centre. It completely changes the lineup and shuffles players back into more natural spots/roles. In retrospect, it’s probably good that his absence allowed players to develop confidence and game experience in other roles, but there’s no denying they are a better team when he’s in the mix.
It’s safe to say Egor Babenko has snapped out of his cold streak. He’s got a nice point streak going and earning a hattrick can do nothing but boost a man’s confidence. According to the game-sheet, Babenko was playing on a line with Millette and Lindgren. The trio combined for 8 points on the night – from a team perspective, the perfect injection of secondary scoring.
I should note, I’ve been told that Babneko took a pretty big hit late in the game and is questionable for tonight. I’m not sure if it’s an injury or just a precaution, but with the arrival of fresh reinforcements, there’s no reason to force him into action. I caught a few minutes of the Rock 106 broadcast and Hurricanes play-by-play man Dustin Forbes inferred strongly that Josh Tarzwell’s injection to the lineup is an inevitability after tonight’s game. With Addison, Tarzwell, Thundchief, and Estephan in the mix, I don’t see any reason to play banged up players.
Darian Skeoch got last night off so he could draw back in. If he does, look for a vet to get the night off and for young Calen Addison to get a crack on the blue-line. I would also not be surprised if Thunderchief is in the lineup. In net, it’s probably fair to assume Sittler will get the call but anything is possible.
- Happy to see guys like Bellerive, Folk and Vandervlis get in on the scoring action last night. If they can chip in every couple of games down the stretch and into the playoffs, this team will stand a good chance for a deep run.
- Expect Tarzwell to be added once the team returns from Saskatchewan.
- Don’t look now but Brady Reagan has a couple of goals in his last four games. Reagan’s quietly been one of the team’s more consistent defenders in recent weeks.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Canes make it four in a row with a 4-3 win over the Raiders.
OBVIOUS GDP: One of Calen Addison or Thunderchief will score a goal
NOT SO OBVIOUS GDP: Someone in PA will have heard Craig Orfino’s beaks towards the Art Hauser Centre being the worst building to play-in in the WHL during our interview. There will be picketing, pitchforks and torches. p
ping Mai-Tai’s. You can trust me… I’m a book reader.
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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