‘Canes vs. Blazers in 2013/14: 0-2-0-0
Last Meeting: January 22nd/2014 – 7-1 Kamloops win (in Lethbridge)
‘Canes Record: 1-3-0-0
‘Canes Home Record: 1-1-0-0
‘Canes Road Record: 0-2-0-0
Blazers Record: 3-1-1-0
Blazers Home Record:2-0-0-0
Blazers Road Record: 1-1-1-0
‘Canes Leading Scorer: Jamal Watson (2G, 2A, 4P); Riley Sheen 1G, 3A, 4P)
Blazers Leading Scorer: Cole Ully (4G, 5A, 9P)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes are coming off their first victory of the season on Wednesday night when they battle back from a 3-0 second period deficit to force overtime eventually defeating the Calgary Hitmen 4-3 in a shootout.
The win for the Hurricanes was their first since February 12th – a 3-2 shootout win over the Brandon Wheat Kings at the ENMAX Centre. A span of 17-straight losses was snapped. The Hurricanes played a very strong game despite allowing 53 shots on goal. Stuart Skinner was sensational stopping 50 of those shots as the 15-year-old Edmonton product earned his first career Western Hockey League win.
The Hurricanes will need to start tonight’s game with the same intensity and desire they showed in the final forty minutes on Wednesday. Especially considering the the Blazers are a much improved hockey team under new head coach Don Hay.
The Hurricanes and Blazers combined for just 26 wins last year and were ranked 22nd and 21st respectively in the WHL year-end standings. Despite Kamloops only winning 14 games during the 2013/14 campaign, two of those came against Lethbridge, both in convincing fashion. The Blazers dumped the ‘Canes by a 7-1 score in both match ups on October 14th in Kamloops and again January 22nd in Kamloops.
Lethbridge Point of View
Top Line Magic: Since being acquired last week from the Everett Silvertips, Zane Jone has proved his worth having only played in two games in a Hurricanes jersey. The 20-year-old from Olds, AB, has scored three goals in two games, and also added a shootout goal in Wednesday’s win. Jones has been on a line with fellow overager Riley Sheen and the ‘Canes captain Jamal Watson. On Wednesday, the unit scored all three regulation goals for Lethbridge and all scored in the shootout as Sheen played hero icing the victory.
Gutt-Check Time: The Hurricanes dug deep on Wednesday to get the victory. Many times when a team is “down in the dumps” it seems impossible for them to channel emotion and intensity, but the ‘Canes did just that en route to the come-from-behind win over Calgary
Trio from Brandon: Kord Pankewicz, Ryley Lindgren and Brett Kitt all made their Hurricanes debut on Wednesday after being acquired in a blockbuster trade on Tuesday. Despite driving from Brandon and leaving at 5:30am, the trio all played well. Pankewicz showed his speed and poise on the back-end and even chipped in an assist in the game; Lindgren was money on the faceoffs; while Kitt was a force physically and had a few shots on net. Lets see what they can do having not traveled all day long.
Kamloops Point of View:
New Coach: After the better part of a decade behind the bench of the Vancouver Giants, Don Hay returned to Kamloops this off-season to try and rekindle some of that early 1990’s success that the Blazers enjoyed when Hay was at the helm as a coach winning back-to-back Memorial Cups. The three time Mem Cup Champion knows how to win as he currently is the active WHL leader in all time victories with 615. He has only missed the playoffs once in this 15 year WHL coaching career and has the Blazers off to a strong start in hopes of not missing another.
Offense from Everywhere: What wins you games? Defense surely does, but offense had a big, big hand and the Kamloops Blazers have a well-rounded attack up front. 19 players have at least a single point on the season, while six of them have five points or more with Cole Ully leading the way with 9 points (4G-5A) in just five games. And they haven’t even added in overager Chase Souto who will help the scoring having rattled in 20 goals last season.
Goaltending Trio: Currently the Blazers are carrying three netminders – Bolton Pouliot, Cole Kehler and Connor Ingram. Pouliot seems to be the “starter” as he started four games collecting a 3-1-0-0 record with a 2.83 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. Assume he’ll be in the pipes – who backs up, we’ll have to wait until game time.