The Lethbridge Hurricanes returned home for one game after a road trip that took them to Victoria, Vancouver, and Swift Current of all places. They welcomed the WHL leading Prince Albert Raiders to town for a showdown at the Enmax center before hitting the road again for a divisional matchup in Red Deer. Upcoming this week, the Hurricanes will welcome Regina and Saskatoon to Lethbridge.
Last Friday night saw the league’s top two teams in the WHL standings squaring off. The Raiders used three opening period goals to take a 3-1 lead, but the Hurricanes did not go away. A strong middle frame where they outshot the visitors 14-5 and cashed in on the power play allowed them back in. The score was 3-3 heading into the final period.
However, the Raiders would not be denied. Goals from Danill Stepanov and Aliaksei Protas helped them secure the 5-3 win. It wasn’t the strongest outing for Lethbridge netminder Carl Tetachuk, who outside this game has been strong for his home town team. Tetachuk made 22 saves in a losing effort. This game was also the third time in five games that star Dylan Cozens was held off the score sheet.
The Hurricanes turned their attention to Red Deer on Saturday night, and it seemed any and all frustrations were taken out on the Rebels. Lethbridge scored early and often in this one, embarrassing Red Deer 11-2 — stat night as some might call it. It was the big guns leading the way for the Windy City. Cozens had one goal and three helpers and was named WHL player of the night. Calen Addison completed a hat trick, and Logan Barlage’s five-point night helped pace the Hurricanes. Bryan Thomson still had to be sharp, making 26 saves for the win.
What is ahead
Looking to carry that momentum forward, the Hurricanes are set for just two games this week, starting Wednesday when the Regina Pats come to town. Lethbridge has won both matchups this season vs the Pats. Regina is riding a two-game win streak, coming off a 6-0 drubbing of the Broncos followed by a tight 5-4 win vs the Wheat Kings. Both wins were on the road.
Friday night, the Hurricanes will wrap up their week with a battle vs the Saskatoon Blades. It is the opposite story for Lethbridge in this one, as they are 0-2-0-0 vs the Blades this season. Saskatoon is coming off a tough swing through the US Division, losing all four games. Their last game was an 8-0 throttling at the hands of the Winterhawks in Portland. The Blades will visit the Tri-City Americans on Wednesday before they visit the Hurricanes.
What a week. The Humbolt, SK, native put in some work this week, and his efforts won him the WHL On the Run Player of the Week honors. Barlage collected 10 points over four games — three of those games were multi-point efforts — highlighted by that five-point outburst in Red Deer. Barlage joins Cozens and Oliver Okuliar as Hurricanes to receive the honor this season.
With 26 points, Calen Addison is second in the WHL in scoring among defencemen, just one point behind his teammate Alex Cotton. This comes after his hat trick last weekend in Red Deer. He became the first Hurricanes defenseman to accomplish the feat since Tomas Kudelka did it on December 2, 2006, against the Saskatoon Blades. Addison is only 11 points away from 200 career WHL points.
It is hard to say which direction coach Brent Kisio will go in the crease this week. Both Tetachuk and Thomson have fared well this season.
Tetachuk has been given the edge in starts with 16, posting a 9-4-0-3 record with 2.07 goals against and a .925 save percentage. Two of those wins were shutouts. His save percentage sits as the third-best in the WHL.
Thomson, in his draft-eligible season, has seen 11 starts. He has a respectable 7-3-0-0 record with a 2.63 goals against average and a save percentage of .899. He ranks 13th among WHL netminders this season. He is also still looking for his first career shutout in the league.
Shooting the breeze:
Cozens, with three assists Saturday, hit the 100 career assist mark. Now, he sits 26 points away from 200 in his career. A few of his teammates are approaching games played milestones:
-Danila Palivko is 13 games away from 100 career games
-Oliver Okuliar is 8 games away from 100 career CHL games
-D-Jay Jerome is 7 games away from 200 career games
-Noah Boyko is 16 games away from 100 career games
Alumni update: Last year’s captain Jordy Bellerive is having a modest season in the AHL so far, posting two goals and two assists in 17 games played with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Bellerive’s linemate from last season, Jake Leschyshyn, has appeared in 21 games for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, recording just the one goal and three points and adding ten penalty minutes.
Nick Henry has seen the most success so far of the trio from last year’s top line. Henry has six points in 17 games played with the AHL Colorado Eagles.