The Lethbridge Hurricanes had a quieter week this past week, getting some time off before the next set of games. They battled another US division foe mid-week and finished off a season series sweep vs a Saskatchewan based team. We also saw a first career hat trick from a 20-year-old.
Lethbridge kicked off the week on Wednesday when the Spokane Chiefs came to town. This was the last of the US Division foes to make the trek to Lethbridge and they did not disappoint. The Chiefs have the WHL leader in points in Adam Beckman on their roster and it was no surprise he ran the show in this game, leading the way with two goals and three assists for a five-point night. The Hurricanes seemed to have no answer in this game that also saw Dylan Cozens go pointless. The Chiefs also got an outstanding effort in goal from Lukas Parik, as the Czech goalie made 41 saves in the win. Carl Tetachuk had 22 saves in a losing cause. The loss for Lethbridge was its third in a row.
Looking to snap that skid on Friday night, the Hurricanes welcomed the rebuilding Moose Jaw Warriors who were playing their final game of a long seven-game road trip. To that point, it hadn’t been a good trip, as the Warriors posted a 0-4-2-0 record. The Warriors got off to a great start, taking a 2-1 lead before the Brett Davis show kicked in. Davis went on to score a hat trick, his first in the WHL. The Hurricanes also received three-point nights from two others — Dylan Cozens recorded three assists while Oliver Okuliar added a goal and two helpers. This paced the Hurricanes to an 8-2 win and snapped that three-game losing skid.
The win was a nice way to go into a week off for the Hurricanes. Head coach Brent Kisio said that was key. “It’s nice, you know we were struggling and it’s good to get the break now and enjoy some days off with the family.”
With a week between games, the Hurricanes will come into the weekend action rested and ready for their final 11 regular-season games.
It all kicks off Friday when the division-leading Edmonton Oil Kings come to town. The Hurricanes sit 12 points behind Edmonton for the top spot with two games in hand. It is unlikely they catch the Oil Kings for the lead, but this game still remains important as they are sitting in the home slot for the two vs three seed playoff matchup, just four points up on the Medicine Hat Tigers. Edmonton is coming off a season series sweep of the Winnipeg ICE, dismantling them Tuesday 10-1. Lethbridge has been pretty well matched vs Edmonton this season, going 2-1-0-0. The Oil Kings did win the last matchup 5-3 in the provincial capital.
On Saturday night, the Brandon Wheat Kings roll into town for their third game of a five-game road swing. Brandon will be coming in after a date in Calgary vs the Hitmen. The Hurricanes are a perfect 3-0-0-0 vs Brandon this season. This will be the first visit to Lethbridge for Brandon since the early part of the season in October. The Wheat Kings find themselves sitting in third in the East division, one point back of the ICE for the second spot and home ice in the playoffs. It will be an important game for both teams.
The home town netminder’s next start will be his 75th in the WHL. He has a perfect split of games played between this season and last season, appearing in 37 games each year. Comparing these two campaigns shows a level of consistency for Tetachuk and the team in front of him.
-Goals against average: last season: 2.88; this season: 2.68
-Save percentage: last season: .909, this season: .906
In a year when the Hurricanes were not expected to be contenders, goaltending has been key in helping the team achieve more. Tetachuk sports a 19-10-1-5 record and is looking for a second consecutive season of 20 wins (finished with 24 last season). He is also seven wins shy of 50 for his WHL career. With 11 games to play this season, a hot finish could see him get that mark. Tetachuk needs two more wins to tie Brady Block and Juha Metsola for 6th all-time in wins as a Hurricanes with 45. He is also four wins back of Dusty Imoo for fifth at 47 wins.
Leading the way
Still flying under the radar a bit is defencemen Alex Cotton, with a lot of the focus on Calen Addison. Cotton continues to lead the WHL in scoring amongst defencemen and has been at the top of the list for much of the season as he continues to produce for the Hurricanes. In 57 games played, the Langley, BC, native has collected 60 points including 18 goals. Addison is sixth amongst defencemen with 48 points in 40 games.
Dylan Cozens still leads the team in scoring overall with 76 points in 45 games. That is also good enough for fifth in WHL scoring. His 32 goals are tied with Oliver Okuliar for the team lead.
Brett Davis, who scored his first career hat trick on Saturday night, is now just nine goals away from 100 WHL goals.
Ty Prefontaine is set to play in career game 250 on Friday vs the Oil Kings.
Calen Addison should also hit that 250 games played mark next week, as he is only four games shy. The Brandon, MB, native is also just nine goals short of 100 career WHL markers.
Logan Barlage, assuming he plays both games over the weekend, will hit career game 200. He has collected 116 points in those games so far.