Friday, 27 March 2015

Canes Getting Set For Info Session

The Lethbridge Hurricanes are holding a public information session Monday night, March 30th in the Lounge at the ENMAX Centre.

Unlike a shareholders meeting, this one is open to anyone wanting to attend. It starts at 7:00 pm. I spoke with Board President Doug Paisley this week about the info session to get an idea of what will be discussed.

You can listen to the whole interview below.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Spokane Wins 2015 WHL Draft Lotto

The Lethbridge Hurricanes will have the second overall selection in this year's Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.
 
The Spokane Chiefs won the WHL's Draft Lottery Wednesday in Calgary. They acquired that first round pick from Saskatoon in a trade during the 2013 season.
 
This will be the second year in a row the Hurricanes will select second overall. They chose Jordy Bellerive with the second overall pick in 2014.

The draft order will be: Spokane, Lethbridge, Vancouver, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, and Moose Jaw to round out the top six picks.

The 2015 WHL Draft takes place in Calgary May 7th.

Thanks,
Pat

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Hurricanes Season: Post-Mortem

Another season has come and gone for the Lethbridge Hurricanes and for the coaches, players, fans, and employees of this hockey club the results again were nowhere close to what anyone had hoped.

The Hurricanes closed out the season with just 20 victories in 72 games. I will give the club some credit because at the Christmas break when the Hurricanes had just 6 or 7 wins, reaching 20 seemed like a shot in the dark at best, but sweeping changes at the trade deadline made the Hurricanes more competitive. That's a good thing. Hopefully that's a positive trend that'll continue into next season.

The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs for the last six seasons and for a club that's been struggling financially it's not what anyone want to hear. Playoffs mean extra revenue, un-budgeted money as teams only budget for operations of the 72 game regular season. Any playoff money is a bonus. Those are funds the Hurricanes haven't seen since the 2008-09 season. It's been a long drought. Just how bad are the team's finances? I'm sure that question will be asked at the pubic information session slated for March 30th at the ENMAX Centre, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know the money situation with this community-owned team is not good. It hasn't been for the last number of seasons and anyone who says things are just fine, as we've heard in the past is doing nothing more than blowing smoke. The only way the Hurricanes are going to turn around financially is to change the product on the ice. You can put as much entertainment in the building you want during games, but it's all about wins and losses. That is what drives the revenue.

There are plenty of questions that will be asked and people want answers. Will this team eventually be sold? Do the shareholders want that? Will this coaching staff and hockey management staff return? Can the Canes sign last year's top pick Jordy Bellerive? What are the finances? And the list goes on.  As I've said many times I want this club to succeed both on and off the ice like every other fan. I care. I always have. I keep my ears close to the ground when it comes to the Canes. Quite frankly I can't wait till a March blog post when we can talk about the Hurricanes first opponent in the playoffs. Honestly, I think that's still a couple of seasons away. There is certainly a foundation now in my opinion starting in goal with Skinner and Sittler and some young talent which has started to really emerge in the last half of the season. Big positives moving forward. Now it's a case of building on those positives, signing the players who've been drafted, and building a strong group for seasons to come.

There's no doubt with this season now over the talk about selling to a private entity will ramp up again. When WHL Commissioner Ron Robison and former President Brian McNaughton addressed Lethbridge City Council last spring the indication many people got was the Western Hockey League's rope was getting shorter and shorter when it comes to the Hurricanes. Even Robison told me late in 2014 (reported here on the blog) he was hoping the issue of selling the club would be dealt with sooner than the Annual General Meeting this coming fall. That of course remains to be seen, but if the Commissioner wasn't concerned about the situation in Lethbridge I don't think he would've said that at all.

It's not all doom and gloom, don't get me wrong. As mentioned the play of some players this season poses well for next season. Skinner, Watson, Wong, Burke, Folk, and Estephan are just a few examples of some of the positives going forward in 2015-16.  Then there's the WHL Bantam Draft in May, which the Hurricanes could have the first overall pick. We will find that out Wednesday (Mar. 25) when the WHL holds the annual Draft Lottery. It'll be a top two pick for sure. Then there is the CHL Import Draft in a few months. That's a draft, in my opinion the Hurricanes have messed up the last few years. The club had the third overall selection in last year's Import Draft and Nikita Milehkin didn't even last until Christmas time before he was sent home to Russia. These are critical picks. This year the Hurricanes will have the 5th overall selection in that draft. They will also have the 65th overall pick if they choose to use it. Players who can change an organization. The Hurricanes need to get the Import Draft right this time around.

So what does the future hold you ask? Well I wish I had the answer. I don't know if the Hurricanes have the answer either. I would think a lot of questions will be put forward at the Public Information Session and State of the Organization meeting March 30 at 7:00 pm. A lot of people have asked if private ownership is the answer. Can a private owner work? Who knows. What I do know though is the financial bleeding needs to stop and the club has to be more competitive. A total of 132 wins in the last six seasons over 432 games just isn't going to make the cut.

Thanks,
Pat

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Canes Lose Final Game of 2014-15 WHL Season

The Lethbridge Hurricanes tried, but couldn't find a way to close out the 2014-2015 WHL season on a winning note.

The Swift Current Broncos secured the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with a 6-2 victory over the Canes Saturday night.

It wasn't a very good start for Lethbridge in this game. The Broncos jumped ahead 3-0 in the first period. Linden Penner opened the scoring, beating Jayden Sittler to make it 1-0. That was followed up by Coda Gordon who made it a 2-0 game on the power play. Before the end of the period, Swift Current scored once more. Carter Rigby put the home side ahead 3-0.

In the second, the Broncos added to their lead. Colby Cave scored just 34 seconds into the period and just like that it was 4-0 Swift Current. The Hurricanes got one of those goals back when Devan Fafard scored his 5th of the season to cut the lead to 4-1 through 40 minutes of play.

In the third, Swift Current put the game away. Colby Cave scored his second of the night, on a power play to make it a 5-1 game. Andreas Schumacher scored a few minutes later to put the Broncos ahead 6-1. Lethbridge scored the final goal of the game when Tyler Wong scored his 27th of the season, but that's as close as the Hurricanes would get in this game, losing 6-2.

The loss dropped the Canes final record to 20-44-5-3 in 72 games. Those 20 wins ties a franchise record for the second-worst season in Hurricanes history. They also had 20 victories in 1987-88 and again in 2009-10.

Swift Current out shot Lethbridge 36-24. The Broncos finished the game 2/4 on the power play and the Hurricanes 0/2.

With that all the first round playoff series are set:

Swift Current will play Regina
Edmonton takes on Brandon
Kootenay and Calgary play each other
Red Deer and Medicine Hat round out the Eastern match-ups

In the West:
Tri-City takes on Kelowna
Prince George will play Victoria
Spokane takes on Everett
Seattle goes head-to-head with rival Portland

Thanks,
Pat

Friday, 20 March 2015

Broncos Beat Hurricanes 5-3

The Lethbridge Hurricanes had a 2-0 lead slip away as they fell 5-3 to the visiting Swift Current Broncos Friday at the ENMAX Centre.

It was the Canes final home game of the 2014-15 WHL season. It was an important win for the Broncos as well as they stay two points ahead of Moose Jaw for the final playoff spot in the East Division.

The Canes got off to a good start in this game. Mike Winther opened the scoring at 7:41 with his 15th goal of the season, making it 1-0 Lethbridge. A few minutes later the Hurricanes jumped ahead by a pair of goals, thanks to Giorgio Estephan's 23rd of the season. That put the Canes in front 2-0 after one period of play.

In the second, the Broncos came charging back to take the lead, by scoring four times under nine minutes. Jake DeBrusk cut the Canes lead to 2-1 less than a minute into the period. Then former Hurricane Jay Merkley tied the game for Swift Current at the 6:00 mark make it a 2-2 game. Less than two minutes after that, DeBrusk scored again, his second of the night to give the visitors their first lead of the night 3-2 and then one minute later Andreas Schumacher scored and just like a two goal deficit turned into a two goal lead for the Broncos through 40 minutes of play.

In the third, DeBrusk completed the hatrick, scoring his third of the game to put Swift Current ahead 5-2. Lethbridge got one more before the end of the game. Captain Jamal Watson put home his 26th of the year, but that's as close as this game would get. Swift Current would win it 5-3.

The loss was the Canes 7th in a row and dropped their overall record to 20-43-5-3 on the season. The Hurricanes out shot Swift Current 46-38. This was a rare occasion this season that the Canes have out shot their opponents in a game. The Canes did not have a power play in this game, while the Broncos finished the night 1/2.

The two clubs will close out the season Saturday (Mar. 21) in Swift Current. The Broncos still need to win in order to have a chance at securing the last playoff spot. Moose Jaw beat Brandon Friday, keeping their playoff hopes alive as well. If both the Broncos and Warriors win again Saturday, Swift Current would get the final spot. If Moose Jaw wins and the Broncos lose in regulation to the Hurricanes, Swift Current and Moose Jaw would have to play a one game winner-takes-all game next week to see which team would advance to the post-season.

Thanks,
Pat

Hurricanes Hand Out 2014-15 Awards

The Lethbridge Hurricanes announced their annual year end award recipients prior to Friday’s final home game of the regular season against the Swift Current Broncos.

The Hurricanes 2014-2015 Awards:

Scholastic Player of the Year: Tyler Wong
Community Relations: Andrew Nielsen
Hardest Working Player: Tyler Wong
Three Stars Award: Stuart Skinner
Fan Favourite Award: Tyler Wong
Perseverance, Dedication, & Sportsmanship: Giorgio Estephan
Top Scorer: Tyler Wong
Top Defenseman: Nick Walters
Carl Trentini Memorial Award (Rookie of the Year): Stuart Skinner
Harry Ingarfield Memorial Award (Most Valuable Player): Tyler Wong

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Hurricanes Lose 6-3 to ICE

The Lethbridge Hurricanes are going into their last two games of the 2014-15 WHL season on a six game losing skid.

Zak Zborosky and Jaedon Descheneau each scored twice as the Kootenay ICE beat the Hurricanes 6-3 Wednesday night.

The Hurricanes opened the scoring in what was their second-last home game of the season. Jamal Watson put home his 25th goal of the season at the 4:06 mark to make it 1-0 Lethbridge. The ICE tied things a few minutes later when Zborosky scored his first of two on the night to even the game at 1-1 through 20 minutes of play.

In the second, Kootenay took control. Jaedon Descheneau scored on the power play, beating Jayden Sittler to give the ICE their first lead of the night, 2-1. Just over a minute later, Ryan Chenowyth scored making it 3-1 Kotenay and then a few minutes after that, Zak Zborosky scored again to give the visitors a comfortable 4-1 lead. Before the end of the period, Descheneau scored his second of the game to put the ICE in the driver's seat 5-1.

In the third, the Hurricanes managed to get a few of those goals back. Pavel Skumatov scored his 6th goal of the season to cut the lead to 5-2 and then Brady Reagan scored his 2nd of the year to make it a 5-3 game. The ICE though would seal the game just past the midway point in the period on a goal from Tim Bozon. That made it 6-3 Kootenay and that's the way this game ended.

The loss drops the Canes record to 20-42-5-3 in 70 games this season. The have lost six in a row. Kootenay finished the game 1/4 on the power play and Lethbridge 0/2. The shots slightly favoured the ICE 27-21.

The Hurricanes are now down to their last two games of the season, both again the Swift Current Broncos. In Lethbridge Friday (Mar. 20) and then in Swift Current Saturday (Mar. 21). These are huge games for Swift Current. The Broncos are battling for their playoff lives with a two point lead on Moose Jaw for the final spot in the division.

Thanks,
Pat