GDB 69.0: ALL THE MARBLES
This. Is. It. The biggest game of the season for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Win tonight and the Canes will clinch the Central Division title. Win tonight and the Canes guarantee themselves a first round matchup against a wildcard team. Win tonight and you’re assured of home ice advantage until the Conference final at a minimum.
Win tonight and you get to hang at least one new banner from the rafters next year. Win tonight and you go a perfect 6-0-0-0 against the Memorial Cup hosts. Win tonight and a semblance of normalcy will return to the Republican nomination process. Alright, maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch. Join us for a preview of tonight’s action below.
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Maybe it was fate, maybe it was serendipity, but when I brought up the WHL site this morning, before sitting down to write this, I was greeted by an image of the ’97 Champion Hurricanes. Those smiling faces brought back a lot of happy memories. The type of memories that this year’s squad can get one step closer to replicating with a win in Red Deer tonight. I’m undoubtedly putting the cart before the horse by even pondering such things, but bear with me and allow me to rationalize.
Much has been made of the Canes vastly exceeding expectations all season long. Well, all of that talk is coalescing into something tangible right before our eyes. It began with clinching a playoff spot for the first time in years and now, depending on the outcome of tonight’s game, the transformation can take another leap forward. It’s a simple formula for the lads tonight, win and you’re the Division champs. That pretty little X in front of your name on the standings undergoes a metamorphosis and becomes an even more beautiful Y. The prospect is so exciting that I’m gushing with adjectives. What can I say? All the marbles are on the line tonight.
All that stands in the way of the Hurricanes is one of the most talented teams in the Dub. Lethbridge had their way with the Rebels last night (and all season long – check Brock’s post game from last night for more). It was a clinical effort where the Hurricanes executed their game plan to a tee. They were aided by some less than stellar goaltending and a collapsing Rebels D corps, but Lethbridge made the most of their chances and cruised to a 6-1 victory.
Tonight’s game figures to be a different narrative entirely. The Rebels had a long bus ride home to stew on the loss, and likely got an earful from Sutter much of the way. Minute munching defenceman Haydn Fleury will be back in the lineup tonight after serving a one game suspension for a checking from behind major. He figures to be a major boost to a D corps that got caught flat footed several times last night.
Add in a raucous home crowd and you’ve got the recipe for a very hungry and fired up hockey club. The Rebels are more than aware of the gravity of the situation and will surely come out hard and fast, looking to bury the Canes early and keep their dreams of a Central Division title alive.
Surviving the opening minutes will be key for the Canes tonight. It will be the type of game that Lethbridge will need to ease their way into. Call it a rope-a-dope strategy. They will need to absorb the Rebels early onslaught and then look to pick their spots. Defensive zone awareness will need to be spot on, especially in the first. The Canes defenders will need to make smart decisions and try to get out of the zone as efficiently as possible; however, they will need to do so while avoiding risk. The glass will be Canes friend tonight. Make the stretch pass when it’s available, otherwise glass and out, glass and out. Say it with me.
It will be interesting to see what kind of energy the Canes have at the start of this one. The boys had to stay at the arena longer than usual last night as there was a bevy fans waiting for autographs. I spent some time in the lounge post-game and was very impressed by the never ending line down the ENMAX hallway waiting for signatures. Perhaps it meant less rest, but it was probably an energizing experience for the players as well. I guess it could be one of those so-called “good problems”.
THIS AND THAT…
I want to send out a personal thank you to Cory McLean for his interactions on Twitter last night. There was a retroactive high sticking penalty called on Igor Merezkho in the 2nd last night that led to some confusion on the part of the fans, myself included. It was a scenario that I had never witnessed before. Cory cleared it up and offered great insight into the rule book while ably demonstrating that officiating crew made the correct call on the play. Thank you to Cory for reaching out and helping to make sense of an unknown. That’s the power of social media for you.
GDP: I can’t, I just can’t. Suffice it to say this one will be a dandy. Sorry, I know it’s a bit of a cop out.
OGDP: Jayden Sittler gets the call in net and plays a stellar game. He loves playing in his hometown.
NSOGDP: Tempers flare. Kisio and Sutter get into a screaming match. Things are thrown. Someone gets ejected.
With all that being said, if the Canes can embrace their inner Ali tonight and come out of the opening minutes relatively unscathed, things will be looking pretty cherry for the boys for the remainder of the game. A division title will be in sight. That’s a satisfying sentence to write for this blogger.
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.
Remember to tell him Canes Domain sent you!
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.