The newest member of the team have paid immediate dividends for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Brad Morrison scored twice, Logan Flodell was solid in net and Logan Barlage scored the shootout winner was the new look Canes beat the visiting Red Deer Rebels 5-4 Tuesday night at the Enmax Centre.
The game came hot on the heels of a busy pre-trade deadline couple of days for General Manager Peter Anholt. The Canes dealt overage defenceman Brennan Riddle to the Vancouver Giants for Morrison, but the real shocker came early Tuesday when Flodell, Barlage, Owen Locker, Matthew Stanley and three draft picks were acquired from Swift Current for fan favourites Giorgio Estephan, Stuart Skinner and Tanner Nagel.
Morrison’s pair were joined by singles from Brandan Stafford and Dylan Cozens for Lethbridge, while Red Deer’s Reese Johnson had a pair, with Alexander Alexeyev and Mason McCarty adding singles.
Flodell stopped 29 of 33 for Lethbridge, while Ethan Anders made 23 of 27 saves before being replaced by Riley Lamb in the third period. Lamb stopped all 14 shots he faced.
The game seemed overshadowed by the day’s trades however. Following the game, Anholt met with Hurricanes fans to discuss the trades which had social media buzzing.
“Please check your pitchforks behind the curtain,” joked Anholt as the town hall meeting began.
Anholt described the Swift Current deal as incredibly difficult, but a decision that needed to be made.
“It was a hard day today, bittersweet in so many ways,” he said. “As the general manager, sometimes I have to make decisions that I feel are best for the organization.” After a disappointing first half, Anholt felt the time was right shake up a team that sits at 18-19-3-0.
“We were spinning our wheels and the time has come to battle complacency,” he said. “As much as I love both Giorgio and Stuart, the time had come where we had to make a decision.”
As for the question of writing off the season, Anholt assured the fanbase that is not the case, and expects the team to improve in the second half.
“We made the changes for the future, but also for today,” he said. “We’re as good now as we were before the move. Barlage is only 16, so imagine what he’ll be like at 18 or 19, and with Flodell, his stats speak for themselves.”
Head coach Brent Kisio echoed Anholt’s comments that the Canes are far from mailing in the remainder of the season.
“There’s process in place, but sometimes there’s going to be hiccups,” he said. “As for writing off the season, nothing is further from the truth. I feel we have a very good chance to win some playoff rounds this year.”
The two teams will meet again in Red Deer Friday night in the back half of the home and home series.