Monday, 2 May 2016

GM Anholt Talks WHL Bantam Draft

The Western Hockey League holds its 2016 Bantam Draft on Thursday, May 5 in Calgary.

For the first time in a long time, the Lethbridge Hurricanes do not have a top five selection. They will choose 19th overall for their first selection in the draft.

On Monday I chatted with General Manager Peter Anholt about the draft and you can hear that conversation below.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Burke & Babenko Make Final NHL Draft Rankings

The National Hockey League’s Central Scouting final rankings for the upcoming 2016 NHL Entry Draft was released Tuesday and two Lethbridge Hurricanes cracked the list as Brayden Burke and Egor Babenko were both ranked.

Burke was the highest ranked of the two Hurricanes being listed 63rd among North American Skaters, a five spot jump from his 68th ranking in the midterm rankings. Burke had a career season shattering his previous career high in points.

The Edmonton, Alberta product lead the Hurricanes in scoring with 109 points (27g-82a) along with a team-high plus-36 rating and 44 penalty minutes. Burke finished tied for first in assists in the WHL and was third in league scoring. He was the first Hurricane to reach the 100-point plateau since Jeremy Jackson who registered 102 point in 2002-2003. Burke was also named an Eastern Conference second team All-Star.

Babenko came in at 106th among North American skaters after being ranked 77th in the midterm rankings. The product of Tyumen, Russia had a tremendous first season in the WHL registering 69 points (29g-40a) along with a plus-26 rating and 36 penalty minutes in 67 games this season. He was fifth in team scoring and was third in plus-minus on the Hurricanes. Babenko finished third in both goals and points by a rookie.

A total of 51 Western Hockey League players were listed in the NHL’s final rankings; the highest ranked WHLer being Calgary Hitmen’s defenseman, Jake Bean. An additional nine WHL goaltenders were ranked in the final rankings, the highest being Everett Silvertips netminder, Carter Hart.

The 2016 NHL Entry Draft is slated to take place in Buffalo, New York at the First Niagara Center from June 24-25.

(From the Lethbridge Hurricanes)

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Wong Signs AHL Amateur Try Out Contract

The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club would like to congratulate forward Tyler Wong on signing an Amateur Try Out with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

Wong, who is the longest serving Hurricane, was named the 25th Captain in franchise history at the beginning of the 2015-2016 season. The now 20-year-old had a career year this season registering 89 points (43g-46a) along with 42 penalty minutes and a plus-17 finishing second in team scoring only behind Brayden Burke.

Wong was named the Hurricanes Fan Favourite award winner for the fourth straight year at the Hurricanes year-end awards ceremony. He was also the recipient of the Scholastic Award, the Herman Elfring Community Relations Award and the Three Star Award.

The Cochrane, Alberta product has skated in 248 career games over five seasons with the Hurricanes accumulating 189 points (92g-97a) along with 171 penalty minutes. He is 15th on the all-time Hurricanes game played list, 15th in all-time goals and tied for 20th in all-time points in franchise history.

Wong is the third Hurricane player to sign an AHL ATO in the last week as Giorgio Estephan and Andrew Nielsen have also both signed ATO’s. Wong will join Nielsen with the Marlies.

(Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club)

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Season Ending Interviews

Lethbridge media had a chance to chat with Hurricanes General Manager Peter Anholt and Head Coach Brent Kisio Wednesday morning at the ENMAX Centre.

It was a chance for the two to talk about the season that was and look ahead to the off-season as the Hurricanes prepare for a new season starting this fall.

Both Anholt and Kisio were candid about things, in a season which no one expected the Hurricanes to play and finish as they did. The question is now, was this a one-off or can the Hurricanes maintain the same momentum?

The team certainly has plenty of returning players coming back this fall, which should bode extremely well. With a few extra players being overagers as well, some changes will have to be made.


Saturday, 2 April 2016

Hurricanes Eliminated From WHL Playoffs

The Lethbridge Hurricanes season came to an abrupt end Friday night at home with a 7-2 loss to the visiting Regina Pats.

The Hurricanes came out very flat in what was a must-win game. They were down 3-0 after the first five Regina shots and after the first period was done, it was 4-0 Pats. Perhaps it was playoff elimination jitters, but it wasn't the way the packed ENMAX Centre crowd expected the Hurricanes to come out.

The Canes were simply out played in this series. Game One was great. The Hurricanes took advantage of a Pats team that was quite frankly bad in that game and the Canes lit them up and were well-deserved for a 6-3 victory. However, give Regina a lot of credit, because that loss turned out to be a major wake-up call for John Paddock's group. They rattled off four straight victories after that, including two shut out wins in the series.

I think most Hurricanes backers would agree the match-up against Regina wasn't a good one for Lethbridge, especially given the regular season games the two clubs played. The Pats kind of had the Canes number this season and that, unfortunately for the Hurricanes, carried over into the post-season as well.

Look at it this way, it may have been just five playoff games, but for a team that should be returning the majority of its players next season, that post-season experience should be huge going into a new year this fall. Lets face it, no one expected the Hurricanes to become the team they have in such a short period of time. After missing the playoffs for seven straight years, getting to the playoffs was a big deal, let alone winning the Central Division. That's something no one can take away from this group.

This team reignited excitement around WHL hockey in Lethbridge for the first time in a long time. Although I wasn't in the broadcast booth to call the games, it was a hell of a lot of fun being in the stands as a fan for a number of these games. To feel the electricity around the ENMAX Centre and the excitement of the fans. To see the season end Friday was sad, but this team has absolutely nothing to its head low about, zero!

GM Peter Anholt and Head Coach Brent Kisio did amazing jobs this season. Anholt built a competitive, high-scoring team and gave Kisio the on-ice tools he needed to get the job done. Both deserve credit. Anholt is the architect of this team and if he doesn't win WHL Executive of the Year there is something seriously wrong in my opinion.

One thing if for sure, if this organization is finally back on track after years of downward spirals, then the future in certainly bright!

Thank you Hurricanes!


Thursday, 31 March 2016

Medicine Hat Tigers Being Evicted From New Arena

The City of Medicine Hat provided notice to Tigers ownership today that without a permanent license agreement in place, the team is required to immediately vacate the Canalta Centre and restore any occupied space to its previous condition by April 7 at noon.

“We are disappointed that a fair and reasonable permanent license agreement has not yet been completed for use of the Canalta Centre,” said Mayor Ted Clugston. “The Tigers are part of the history and the fabric of our community. We want to see them make the Canalta Centre their home for many years to come.”

A temporary access agreement was put in place on August 21, 2015, to allow the Tigers to move into the Canalta Centre in time for the 2015-16 Western Hockey League season. The temporary access agreement was renewed 11 times over the course of the season, with the most recent agreement expiring March 24.

“City Council has an obligation to all City residents and taxpayers to manage the City’s assets and resources in a legally and financially responsible manner,” said Clugston. “We must look out for the best interests of all residents.”

In the absence of a long-term license, outfitting of the home team dressing room and other spaces dedicated for the home team was delayed.

SMG continues to be available to the Tigers to negotiate and finalize a long-term license agreement for use of the Canalta Centre. Once that agreement is reached, the Tigers will be welcomed back to the Canalta Centre and work can begin to outfit the team spaces.

(From City of Medicine Hat)

Hurricanes Facing Playoff Elimination

For the second time during these 2016 playoffs, the Lethbridge Hurricanes were shut out, this time 2-0 in Regina.

For a team that was the second highest-scoring club in the WHL during the regular season, being blanked twice in the past three games is certainly out of the norm for the Hurricanes and with that, the Canes are facing playoff elimination, down three-games-to-one. In fact, since scoring six goals in game one, the Hurricanes have only scored twice since and that was in a 3-2 Game Four loss the other day. It is do or die now and anything but a win in Game Five on Friday back at the ENMAX Centre means the season comes to an end. However, it does take four win to take the series and the Hurricanes rattled off three wins in a row several times during the regular season. So it's not over till it's over, but the Canes are facing an uphill battle.

The Hurricanes decided to make a goaltending switch to start this game. Jayden Sittler got his first start of the post-season. The game stayed scoreless until the final minute of the first period. That's when Cole Sanford scored what would turn out to be the game winner when it was all said and done. It was Sanford's second of the playoffs at 19:12 of the opening period and that gave Regina a 1-0 lead.

Following a scoreless second period, that 1-0 lead held right through to late stages of the third. The Hurricanes pulled goalie Jayden Sittler to try and get the tying goal, however Adam Brooks scored his 4th playoff goal, this one into an empty net and the Pats would skate away with a 2-0 win and a stranglehold 3-1 series lead.

The Hurricanes out shot Regina 32-26, but Pats goalie Tyler Brown was perfect stopping everything he faced to earn his second shut out of the 2016 WHL playoffs. It's not the Hurricanes didn't have their chances. They hit enough goalposts in this game, that had they gone in, the Canes likely would've won. But those are the breaks and hitting posts doesn't win you games. The Canes were 0/3 on the power play and Regina 0/1.

So the Hurricanes have to pull up their socks big time now. As mentioned it's win or go home for this team. Hopefully playing back at home Friday with a big supportive crowd will be the added boost the Canes will need to keep them in this series and force a game six. It's all on the players now to get the job done. We will see how it all shakes down at 7:00 pm MDT time April 1st!