GDB 9.0: THE WINDS OF CHANGE

  • Jeremy Sakamoto

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2015 has been a year of change. Vast, sweeping change often without precedent. Monday night saw the Liberal Party win a majority in Ottawa. A provincial election in May saw a surprise victory for the NDP. Torts is back behind in the bench in Columbus (January 21st vs the Flames, set your PVR). A year of change indeed. I’ve had a lot of discussions about change in the last 6 months with a lot of people. While many of these discussions have been about politics the 2015/16 Lethbridge Hurricanes keep coming up as well. It’s early, but it appears the winds have change are whipping through halls of the ENMAX Centre this season.

The Hurricanes current record stands at 6-2. This is the team’s best start at since 2001/02 when Lethbridge went 6-1-1. The 2015-2016 edition of the Canes has been scoring in bunches and the wins have been following suit.

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I understand that it’s a small sample size, but this year’s edition of the Hurricanes seem to have a different air about them. The Canes are skating hard, getting pucks deep, going hard to the net, and creating traffic in front. They are being rewarded for their efforts on the scoresheet. The Canes’ power play has been a revelation to start this year. Both PP units have looked very comfortable and have been making other teams pay for undisciplined play. Do you want more evidence for the improved play of this year’s Hurricanes? Then take a quick look at the WHL stat sheets. Brayden Burke and Tyler Wong are both in the top 12 of WHL scoring (re-check post Wednesday night action). Wong is currently tied for the lead in goals. Andrew Nielsen and Kord Pankewicz are in the top 20 for defenceman scoring. Can this pace be continued for the Hurricanes throughout a 72 game season? Time will tell, but in the meantime Hurricanes fan can enjoy the ride. This team is fun to watch and they are bringing it on a nightly basis.

Fans of the Canes have to be ecstatic with this start. There was a sense of cautious optimism heading into 2015/16; thus far, those expectations have been exceeded. The moves made Hurricanes GM Peter Anholt have paid dividends early on. New head coach Brett Kisio, along with the rest of the Hurricanes coaches, have this team playing well and believing in themselves and the results are coming. The winds of change have swept through this country and it seems that they have brought positive energy to this WHL franchise. Hopefully this early season success continues against the Swift Current Broncos on Friday night and the Canes run their winning streak to 5.

The Hurricanes have had another lengthy break in between games. They last saw action against these same Broncos in Swift las Saturday. The Hurricanes had a great start to the game and built a 4-0 lead midway through the second period. The Broncos managed to storm back, eventually making it a one goal game early in the third period. However, the Hurricanes would shut the door the rest of the way and earn a 5-3 win behind a stellar 40 save start by Jayden Sittler. Game number 8 saw the Hurricanes big guns continue their stellar play early in this season. Wong (1g -1a), Burke (1g-1a), Estephan (2a) and Nielsen (1g – 2a) each had a multi-point game for the winning side.

The Broncos are coming off a tough game against the Moose Jaw Warriors where they lost 6-1 against the CHL’s 6th ranked team. While it was a tough loss for the Broncos they were some positives. The Broncos outshout the Warriors 37-32. Jon Martin continued his stellar play scoring the Broncos lone goal. The goal saw Martin tied Tyler Wong for the league lead in goals. The reigning WHL player of the Week has at least 1 point in every game since joining the team from the Kootenay Ice. Limiting Martin’s impact on the game will be key for the Hurricanes if they want a win. This game also marks the return of Kade Jensen to the ENMAX Centre. He’s going to be fired up going against his old squad and will make his presence felt in this one.

 

Projected Line Up:

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These are the line combinations that the Hurricanes used in the previous game versus the Swift Current Broncos. The Hurricanes have been using an 11 forward 7 defencemen setup the last few games and I imagine that this will continue. As they say, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ It is possible that Sheen and/or Davis may slot in for Vandervlis and/or White, but I’m guessing that Vandervlis and White will slot in as each made positive contributions to the team in Swift Current last week. Vandervlis hit the score sheet with an apple and White finished the night as a plus one.

 

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These are the d-men that dressed in the previous game against the Broncos. I’m betting that the Canes will go with the same group on the ice in an effort to duplicate the result in this rematch against the Broncos. Watson may be dressed in place of Merezhko or Skeoch, but I think that the Canes will wait to slot Watson in on Saturday night in Edmonton versus the Oil Kings.

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It’s a similar theme of status quo in net. Games on back to back nights means that both Sittler and Skinner will get an opportunity to start this weekend. I think that the Canes will go with Sittler again versus the Broncos as he played outstanding last week at the Credit Union iPlex. Sittler currently has the third best goals against average (1.59) and third best save percentage (.947) amongst all WHL goaltenders. Look for Sittler to continue his hot start here in Lethbridge with Skinner getting the nod tomorrow night in Edmonton.

 

AN URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT (By Brock)

We tried to help the Bronco’s sell some tickets for their game tomorrow and didn’t hear anything back. If I  lived in SC I would take my collection of eight draft beer cups from tomorrow nights game and hang them on my shelf next to my special Gandalf cup from those horrible Hobbit movies. Thats just me tho….

 

Tonight…

Game Day Prediction: The Hurricanes have to weather an early onslaught from a highly motivated Broncos side. This one will be hard-fought affair featuring numerous ebbs and flows for both teams. However, the Hurricanes will hang on for a 6-4 win iced by Estephan when he pots an empty netter in the game’s final minute.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Jon Martin will be the best player on the ice for the Broncos and the Hurricanes will attempt to match him up with Lindgren whenever possible.

Not So Obvious Game Day Prediction:  This game will be played at a very high pace and both goalies are going to see a ton of rubber. Each ‘tender will face over 40 shots during this Friday night affair.

 

Friday night figures to be an exciting night of sports here in the Bridge. While the Blue Jays will be playing game 5 against the Royals, the best ticket in town is likely to be found inside the walls of the ENMAX Centre. The Hurricanes have iced an entertaining and competitive team for each and every game this season. Friday night figures to be no different. So, tell a friend or 6 that you want to get down to the ENMAX Centre and cheer on your boys in red vs. the Broncos. This will be the last home ice action for a while as the Hurricanes will head off on a lengthy road trip that will see them hit the west coast to compete against the BC division. The next home game isn’t until November 6th, so let’s cheer on the lads loud and proud and send them off on the road with their 5th W in a row.

 


What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.

Mortgage-Crusher

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!

 

 


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Professional student, prospective teacher. Red Wings/Blue Jays/49ers super-fan. Proud general manager of Team Mono and the Slumlords in a pair of fantasy hockey keeper leagues. Is there anything better than soup and sandwich? Twitter: @jsvsakamoto.

 


 

 

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