Friday, 19 December 2014

Anholt: "First Priroity is Our Players"

Here's a very interesting article written by Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.  I usually don't post paper articles, but I thought this one had some great insight on Hurricanes Head Coach/GM Peter Anholt and his thoughts about the club now and moving forward. Give it a read:

Lethbridge Hurricanes head coach and general manager Peter Anholt stated the obvious Wednesday when talking about the moribund WHL club he took over.

“We’re a long way from the ’77 Montreal Canadiens,” he said, “let me put it to you that way." A long way indeed.

Anholt assumed control of what has been the worst WHL team since the start of the 2013-14 season when head coach Drake Berehowsky and general manager Brad Robson were fired last week. The Hurricanes managed 18 wins in 101 games under that duo. Their 48 points are six fewer than the Saskatoon Blades have tallied, entering action on Wednesday.

No, the Hurricanes are not akin to one of hockey’s greatest teams. But those wearing the sweater are going to be treated better.

“The first priority is our players,” said Anholt, who was first hired to be the club’s assistant GM in June. “We have to be mindful of that, that our current players are our biggest and best assets. They’re No. 1. I think that has been lost a little bit here.

“It’s time for the staff of the Lethbridge Hurricanes to quit blaming the players and look at ourselves a little bit closer. “It’s hard enough to win in this league when things are right. It’s impossible to win when things aren’t. That’s generated from the top on down.”

There has been a flurry of trade demands since last September under the old regime — from current Blade Sam McKechnie to Duck Lake’s Ryan Pilon and finally Reid Duke and Macoy Erkamps this season.

Whether their reasons for wanting out of Lethbridge were valid or not, Anholt said his coaching and management staffs will show more accountability and put an emphasis on player development. “The feeling wasn’t there before,” he said. “The players didn’t feel that there was a chance to grow as a player and meet their potential. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes that’s not true. But perception is reality.

“But we’re not just going to trade guys now, if that ever happens again. That’s not going to happen. You’ve got to play here and you’ve got to play hard. The line in the sand is drawn for sure.” Anholt hasn’t coached in the WHL since running the Prince Albert Raiders in 2007.

He hasn’t been in the GM’s chair since the early 1990s with the Seattle Thunderbirds when former Blades exec and play-by-play man Dennis Beyak was his right-hand man.

Anholt, who hasn’t discussed his future beyond this season with Hurricanes board president Doug Paisley, knows there is plenty of work to do.

He wants the Canes players to be in better physical shape and play with more structure. However, he believes there are pieces in place for future success citing impressive 16-year-old goaltender Stuart Skinner, defencemen Kade Jensen and Andrew Nielsen and forwards Giorgio Estephan and Jaeger White.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but when I look into the eyes of the players I think they’re up to the challenge,” Anholt said. “It’s exciting, but it’s going to be a lot of work to bring us back to respectability.”

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Hurricanes Beat Pats 5-4 in Overtime

Nick Walters scored in overtime as the Lethbridge Hurricanes came back from a two goal deficit to beat the Pats 5-4 in Regina Wednesday night.

The victory gave the Hurricanes back-to-back wins for the first time since October 24th.

The game didn't start all that well for Lethbridge. Regina jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Sam Steel and Austin Wagner. Steel's goal was on the power play just 90 seconds into the period and then Wagner followed that up late with a shorthanded marker to make it 2-0 Pats. The Canes got back into the game when Tyler Wong scored at 12:31 to cut the lead to 2-1. Then with just over a minute to go in the period, Captain Jamal Watson scored to even the score at 2-2 through 20 minutes of play.

In the second, the Pats took the lead again, this time off a goal from Braden Christoffer to make it 3-2 for the home team.  Lethbridge again evened the score when Giorgio Estephan scored to things at 3-3 heading into the third period.

That score stood up all the way until the late stages of the third period, when the teams would exchange goals again. Carter Hansen scored at 17:32 for Regina, to put the home side ahead 4-3 with just a few minutes left, but the Canes wouldn't die. Just a minute later, Jaeger White scored to tie the game at 4-4, effectively sending the game into extra time.

In the overtime, Nick Walters would end the game at 1:46 for Lethbridge and the Canes skated away with a hard-fought 5-4 come-from-behind victory on the road. The victory improves the Canes record to 8-20-2-3 in 33 games this season heading into the WHL's annual Christmas break.

Lethbridge out shot Regina 30-26 in this game. It's one of the very few times the Canes have out shot their opponents this season, which is great to see for this club. Regina went 1/7 on the power play and Lethbridge 0/2.

The Canes get a much-needed rest for the next nine days. They return to action December 27th and 28th when they play rival Medicine Hat in a home-and-away set. It'll be the first time the two teams have played since opening weekend. The Tigers sit in second place in the WHL's Eastern Conference with 24 wins in 34 games, two points back of first place Brandon. The Canes sit in second-last spot in the East, a few points ahead of Saskatoon.


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Hurricanes Release Import (F) Nikita Milekhin

The Lethbridge Hurricanes have trimmed their roster to 24 after releasing Forward Nikita Milekhin.

Milekhin was drafted by the Hurricanes 3rd overall in this year’s CHL Import Draft. The 1997-born winger played for Moscow Dynamo prior to joining the Hurricanes where he registered 21 points, including 13 goals. In 16 games with the Hurricanes, Milekhin had 4 points (1G, 3A), was a minus-6 plus/minus rating and had 2 PIM’s. Milekhin will be returning home to Krasnogorsk, Russia this week.

With this move, the Hurricanes roster is now down to 24 with 2 goalies, 8 defencemen and 14 forwards.

(From Esther Madziya, Hurricanes Media Relations)


Hurricanes Beat Warriors 6-4

The Lethbridge Hurricanes earned a much-needed victory in Moose Jaw Tuesday night.

Tyler Wong scored a pair of goals to lead the way as the Canes downed the Warriors 6-4.

It was a very good first period for the visitors in this game. Wong opened the scoring with his first of two goals on the night at the 14:23 mark to give the Canes a 1-0 lead. Just over two minutes later, Wong struck again. That made it 2-0 for Lethbridge after 20 minutes of play.

In the second, former Hurricane Jaimen Yakubowski got Moose Jaw back in the game with a quick goal just 39 seconds into the period. That cut the lead to 2-1. The Hurricanes though got that back, thanks to a goal from Kord Pankewicz at the 9:14 mark. That put the Hurricanes ahead 3-1. The Hurricanes then notched a power play goal a few minutes later, courtesy of Kade Jensen. That put the Hurricanes in the driver's seat with a 4-1 lead. Before the end of the period though, Tanner Eberle scored for Moose Jaw to cut the Canes lead to 4-2 after 4-0 minutes.

In the third, Taylor Cooper scored the Canes just 24 seconds into the period of a power play. That put the visitors ahead 5-2. The scored stayed that way until the late stages of the period, when Moose Jaw scored a pair of quick goals to make for a very interesting finish. Jayden Halbgewachs beat Stuart Skinner at 14:49 and then a couple of minutes later, Brett Howden scored to make a 5-4 game. Moose Jaw pulled the goalie to try and even the score, but Carter Folk iced the game for Lethbridge into an empty net to give the Hurricanes a big 6-4 victory.

The win improves the Canes overall record to 7-20-2-3 on the season. Moose Jaw out shot the Canes 33-31. Lethbridge spend a considerable amount of time on the power play, going 2 for 9 on the night. The Warriors went 0/3.

It was a big win for the Canes, in what has been a tough season for the club. No doubt a confidence booster heading into their final game prior to the WHL's annual Christmas break. The Canes play in Regina Wednesday (Dec. 17). After this game, the Canes are off for 10 days and don't return to action until the 27th when they host rival Medicine Hat.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

WHL Commissioner Talks About Hurricanes

I had a very good chat with WHL Commissioner Ron Robison this week, regarding his thoughts surrounding the current state and future of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

There is no secret the club has been struggling on and off the ice the past number of seasons. Robison met last week with members of the Hurricanes Board of Directors to discuss a number of issues, one of those surrounding a motion put forward by a shareholder at the last Annual General Meeting to have shareholders hold a vote as to whether they would like to keep the team community-owned or sold to a private owner.

Robsion says in the WHL's view, having that vote at the next AGM this fall serves little purpose. He would like the shareholders meeting moved up to sometime early in the new year, so the ownership model for the franchise can be settled going forward.

Robison's entire interview with me is below.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Canes Release (D) Griffin Foulk

The Lethbridge Hurricanes have trimmed their roster to 25 after releasing Defenseman Griffin Foulk.

Foulk was acquired by the Hurricanes in October 2013 when they sent Adam Henry to Seattle for the 19-year old. In 85 games with the Hurricanes, the native of Colorado registered 4 goals, 12 assists and 116 PIM’s. Foulk has played a total of 153 career WHL games with Lethbridge, Seattle and the Everett Silvertips.

With these moves, the Hurricanes roster is now down to 25 with 2 goalies, 8 defencemen and 15 forwards.

GM/Head Coach Peter Anholt Speaks to Media

The new General Manager and Head Coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes spoke to local media late last week.

Peter Anholt has taken over both positions following the recent firings of GM Brad Robson and Head Coach Drake Berehowsky.

Anholt was very candid in his remarks, which lasted for over 15 minutes.

He says, the Hurricanes "have lots of heavy lifting over the next while. We're not going to make the playoffs this year. First of all, short term, let's put somebody in place so that these players want to come back after Christmas".


Listen to the full interview below: