RED VS WHITE GAME REVIEW

  • Brock Boot

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The video scoreboard was running, overpriced beer flowed like the mighty Nile, and the practice jerseys were gone. Hockey was really “back” at the Enmax tonight. The crowd was the biggest yet of camp, and on-lookers were rewarded with a pretty good game. There were plenty of chances, nice goals, and big saves to talk about. Much like Monday evening, tonight’s game was spirited, with bubble players doing whatever possible to catch the eye of coaches. In the end, team White came away with the 5-4 overtime win thanks to a top-shelf snipe by Justin Gutierrez.

 

From my perspective, tonight’s game felt more or less evenly played. Both teams had their chances and made mistakes. The score, I feel, reflected the game nicely. It was great to see the players over a full 60 minute game rather than the shorter scrimmages we saw throughout the week. I felt that a number of players really benefited from the extra game time – allowing them to get into the flow of the game and get some good touches. It was a great test to see where the rookie players are at prior to the training-wheels coming off for Friday’s match up against the Tigers.

*forewarning that this post was written franticly following the game in order to get it out to you, the reader, as soon as possible. Please be gracious with any grammatical errors or awkward sentences.

 

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THE GOOD

Great pass from Millette to Gutierrez in the first for a quick response goal. Millette has impressed with his hockey IQ

Slick hands shown on a few occasions by Johnny Wesley

Andrew Nielsen. He showed to me tonight that he is ready to step up and lead this team defensively. The tools are there in spades. Hopefully he can find some consistency in his game this season. He was all over the ice tonight. Made a great heads up pass from down low to find Nick Watson at the top of the circle in the first. Watson missed the net high, but it was a great chance and all due to Nielsen’s play making ability.

Drayton Thunder-Chief checking anybody…ever. This guy is always looking for the big hit and usually lands one at least once per game. Tonight he found Tyler Strath in the first period. The coaches must see value in his physicality because he avoided being assigned tonight.

I really liked watching Brent Kisio behind the bench. Lots of positivity and encouragement from him to the players. When they did something he liked you could be sure he let them know. A little positive affirmation can go a long way in helping young guys build confidence. Great to see.

Callen Addison. I cannot wait to see what Addison emerges into in a years time. As of today he looks right at home on the Canes blue-line. Spent most of the night paired up with Nielsen and they were great together. Both scored goals and helped set up others. Addison squeaked a slap-shot past Justin Andersen in the third period and made some very successful pinches. Can also throw the body fairly effectively for his size and age.

Great to hear the communication from Sittler to his defensemen when team White had the powerplay. While in the offensive zone, Atwal was on the attack down low and none of the forwards had moved to cover the point in his absence. Sittler was sure to yell loudly and let his teammates know. Little details can make a big difference over a long season and I liked to see it from Sittler tonight.

Davis-Goal

Brett Davis. I felt this was the best I had seen him yet at camp. Was making things happen all over the ice. Scored a beautiful backhand goal (pictured above) on Stuart Skinner seconds before the goaltenders were swapped out.

Goaltenders. Both Skinner and Sittler were good tonight. Both made some big stops. Sittler stood out to me on a few great saves down low along the ice. He did seem to struggle with rebound control at times and will probably want to avoid giving out too many of those second and third opportunities moving forward. Still a great option for the Canes in net. I think it’s safe to say that with both Skinner and Sittler, the Hurricanes goaltending is a position of strength.

Justin Gutierrez. Not sure if his incredible offensive play in camp is sustainable (because he hasn’t historically put up big numbers), but he has been lights out over the past three days. Seems to have some chemisty with Egor Babenko. They hooked up for another pretty goal tonight. Gutierrez also scored the overtime winner – top shelf – over Kegglers glove hand on a sweet pass from Atwal. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Justin, but he has quietly been one of the best players of week. If he can keep this kind of play up, Anholt will have found a real diamond in the rough in getting him from Tri-Cities.

Like the combination of Reagan and Pankewicz. They were throwing the puck around quickly and with confidence. Could tell they were one of the most veteran defensive units in the game. Calm, cool and collected. Brady Reagan could be another great find for Anholt. I think he is underrated and probably deserves more attention as a potential defensive difference maker heading into the season.

Ben Dupperault has come out of nowhere to be one of the most productive players of camp. Dupperault, a 19 year old, is making a very strong case to make this team out of camp. He scored a hat trick Monday night and added another goal and assist tonight. It’s a really good thing to see an older guy make an impact as it would be easy for the Canes to rely too heavily on their smaller, inexperienced  (albeit exceptional) rookies, to win  games. Having great young talent is good, but only if it is complimented with older, most experienced and consistent veterans. Look for Dupperault to continue to prove he deserves a place on this team.

The two ice cleaner system is super amazing and probably help’s the ice solidify better prior to the start of a new period. For those unaware, the City of Lethbridge invested in a more high tech ice temperature monitoring system at the Enmax Centre this year. It’s awesome to see the new boards and know the ice should remain in better condition.

 

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THE LESS GOOD

Pankewicz got walked around a little easily in the first period by a lightning quick Wong-Estephan attack. Settled in nicely later on however.

Josh Tarzwell with a pretty careless play, coming down on Tryler Straths head with his stick and taking a penalty in the process. It was accidental but unnecessary.

Atwal got caught on one or two aggressive offensive point manuvers due to bad reads later in the game. He has though, impressed me with his ability to recover from mistakes. His speed and smooth skating help him get away with bad reads. Might come back to bite him against stiffer competition but I like that he is looking to make plays.

Beyond Skinner and Sittler, the goaltending left something to be desired. Outside of a few nice glove saves by Keggler, I had almost no positive notes for the depth goaltenders. I’m not sure if the depth players struggled, if Skinner and Sittler were just playing exceptionally, or if it were some combination of both – but I really hope that Anholt decides to keep both Skinner and Sittler. Based on what I saw at camp, I’m not sure any of the other netminders are ready to provide the kind of goaltending the Hurricanes are going to need this season.

Camp standouts Zane Franklin and Jordan Bellerive were a little quiet tonight. I don’t think either played a bad game, but I don’t feel they were as effective tonight has they have been the rest of camp.

 

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THE BAD

Tall beers are over $7 and I only had $6

 

CUTS

The Hurricanes have officially reassigned 10 players following tonights game, meaning there is now a far more manageable 32 players remaining. Reassginments include:

Goaltenders – Justin Anderson
Defenseman – Connor Rokosh, Cody Allen, and Ayden Roche-Setoguchi
Forwards – Jarrett Cammarata, Tyler Traptow, Jacob Ashton, Jayden Davis, Tyler Prince and Linden Penner.

Names via the official team website.

In light of the cuts, we can start to make more sense of the logjam on the backend. The remaining defensemen are: Atwal, Nielsen, Pankewicz, Reagan, Allan, Merezhko, Kennedy, Watson, Skeoch, Strath, and Addison. We can assume the first four names are pretty well locks, as well as Merezhko. Strath and Addison are ‘00s and won’t make the team this year. That leaves an open spot for the 6th and 7th defensemen as well as a guy who will spend time in the press box. The players jockeying for the afformationed positions include Skeoch, Kennedy, Watson, and Allan. You may also clump Pankewicz in that conversation as a guy that could work his way either up or down the defensive lineup.

 

CONCLUSIONS

It’s difficult not to get too optimistic at this time of year. Every team in the league is feeling great about what they have assembled this far into camp. As we in Lethbridge are painfully aware, what looks good on September 1st may not necessarily transfer to wins in October (or December… January, February…). It’s important to temper expectations and realize that things will get much more difficult from this point on. It will be fun to start watching these great young players work together as one team rather than battle it out amongst themselves. I’ve heard time and time again that spirits are high amongst the players. The guys are, allegedly, really enjoying themselves and forming a cohesive bond. From what I have seen, I have no reason to doubt it. There really does seem to be some legitimate optimism and camaraderie among the players. Getting some early wins and building some momentum will really help to solidify those bonds heading into the regular season.

The first chance to start that process comes this Friday at the Enmax against the Tigers. Looking forward to seeing you all there.

 

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