GAME DAY: ‘Canes vs. Hitmen (in Crowsnest Pass)

GameDayPreview

exhigame6The Match Up

WhoLethbridge Hurricanes vs. Calgary Hitmen
Where: Crowsnest Pass
When: 7pm puck drop
Listen: ROCK 106
Watch: WHL Live

*NOTE: This game will NOT be broadcast on either ROCK 106 or on WHL Live*

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‘Canes vs. Ice in 2014/15: 1-5-0-0
Last Meeting: March 15th, 2015 (4-1 Hitmen win in Calgary)

‘Canes Record (2014/2015): 20-44-5-3
‘Canes Home Record (2014/2015)10-20-3-3
‘Canes Road Record (2014/2015): 10-24-2-0
‘Canes Record in the Pre-Season: 2-2-0-0

Hitmen Record (2014/2015): 45-22-1-4
Hitmen Home Record (2014/2015):
23-12-0-2
Hitmen Road Record (2014/2015): 22-10-1-3
Hitmen Record in the Pre-Season: 5-0-0-0

‘Canes Leading Scorer (2014/2015): Tyler Wong (27G, 29A, 56P)
‘Canes Leading Scorer in Pre-Season: Egor Babenko (3G, 2A, 5P)
Hitmen Leading Scorer (2014/2015): Adam Tambellini (47G, 39A, 86P)
Hitmen Leading Scorer in Pre-Season: Layne Bensmiller (2G, 4A, 6P)

The Break Down

After a 3-2 win Thursday night in the Crowsnest Pass over the Kootenay Ice, the Lethbridge Hurricanes conclude the 2015 ENMAX Pre-Season Friday with a game against the Calgary Hitmen once again in Crowsnest Pass.

The Hurricanes saw goals from Egor Babenko, Jaeger White and Brett Davis in their Thursday win. Jayden Sittler stopped 32 of 34 shots he faced in the game as he went the distance as he helped the Hurricanes improve their pre-season record to 3-2-0-0.

Tonight, the Hurricanes will take on a Hitmen team that is a perfect 5-0-0-0 in the pre-season. No doubt it will be a tough test for the Hurricanes who are still trying to solidify a roster as they prepare for the start of the regular season one week tonight.

Expect that Stuart Skinner will get the start in goal tonight against the Hitmen after Sittler started yesterday and the team assigned Brandon Kegler to Lloydminster of the AJHL. Tonight will also be the final opportunity for hopefuls to make themselves noticed to both the coaching staff and management as it will likely be a spirited final game of the warm-up season.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes will kick off the 2015-2016 season when they host the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday, September 25th in the Dairy Queen Home Opener. There will be a tailgate party beginning at 5:00pm with a by donation Bar-B-Que providing burgers and pop courtesy of Mr. Mikes SteakhouseCasual – all proceeds of the Bar-B-Que will go to the United Way.

Individual game tickets for the 2015-2016 season are now available by calling (403) 329-SEAT.

What To Watch

Lethbridge Point of View

BABENKO!: Albeit early, Egor Babenko is showing that he is going to be an offensive force in the Western Hockey League. The 18-year-old from Tyumin, Russia, leads the Hurricanes in scoring in the exhibition schedule with three goals and five points in five games. Is it a lot to expect that Babenko will be a point-per-game player in the WHL this year? The answer is YES, and that it most certainly won’t happen. BUT, if he continues to adjust as quickly as he has and continues to score as he has through five pre-season games, he may be a huge help to getting this Hurricanes team into the playoffs for the first time in six years. Let’s all keep our expectations reasonable though!

Final Test: With 27 players still on the Hurricanes roster, there are at least a couple of roster moves to take place prior to the start of next weekends season opener. It will be interesting to see which way the management, and coaching staff, lean as they currently have four 16-year-old’s still in camp with the likes of Zane Franklin, Brett Davis, Jordy Bellerive and Nick Watson making a case to stick around. Then there are try-out players Ben Duperreault and Darian Skeoch, perhaps they are on the bubble still. Either way, tonight is the last chance for any player – returning or new – to make their case to stay on this team come next week.

Calgary Point of View

By Committee: Perennially, the Calgary Hitmen are a team that makes the playoffs and battles for top spot in the tough Central Division. But with the loss of significant pieces to their team moving on, including Adam Tambellini, Kenton Helgeson, Connor Rankin who left as overagers last year. Plus factor in that Jake Virtanen may make the NHL’s Canucks and Keegan Kanzig could potentially play in the AHL for the Flames affiliate, there are a lot of areas to be filled. So far so good in the pre-season, and expect players like Layne Bensmiller – who leads their team in scoring during the pre-season – and Pavel Karnaukhov, once back from Flames camp, to take the next step to fill the need offensively.

Questionable Crease: Last year, the Hitmen acquired 19-year-old goaltender Brendan Burke from the Portland Winterhawks to go along with then 19-year-old goaltender Mack Shields as a one-two combo. In the off-season, the Hitmen waived Shields and stuck with Burke. The former Arizona draft pick, who has been at Anaheim Ducks camp, is a good goalie but who is going to help him? That “back-up” role will likely be filled by either Lasse Peterson or Kyle Dumba, the younger brother of Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt. Both have been incredibly strong in the pre-season as Dumba has an impressive .920 save percentage while Peterson is sitting with a .930. It will be interesting to see which way the Hitmen will lean.

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