By Lethbridge Herald on February 17, 2017.
In hockey-playing circles, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
The Christmas season is nearly two months in the rear view mirror, but there’s one gift left that most teams across the Western Hockey League haven’t torn open yet.
That gift will be doled out next month in the form of a playoff berth as the WHL season heads down the stretch drive and into the final four weeks of action.
Thanks a hot streak in the New Year that has seen them earn at least one point in 15 of their last 16 games, the Lethbridge Hurricanes have put themselves solidly on the gift list with a 34-16-4-3 record that has them comfortably in second place in the Central Division.
But with the second season still a month away, there’s still plenty of hockey left to be played and that continues tonight at 7 p.m. when the Canes welcome the Victoria Royals to the Enmax Centre.
“Besides playoffs this is probably the best time of the year,” said Hurricanes forward Alec Baer. “Obviously in the last 15 games everyone is finding their spot for the playoffs and everybody is either chasing someone or trying to stay ahead of someone. It’s good. It gets competitive at this time and that’s the most fun.”
Since arriving in Lethbridge at the Jan. 10 trade deadline from the Vancouver Giants a little over a month ago, the good times have been rolling for Baer as well.
“It’s a good group of guys who have made it easy to find a new home,” said Baer, who has eight goals and 11 points in 15 games since arriving in southern Alberta. “Obviously, the team is doing great, which makes it a lot more fun as well.”
The 19-year-old American who hails from St. Louis Park, Minnesota, arrived in Lethbridge shortly after the Hurricanes kicked off what turned into a nine-game winning streak and 15-game undefeated run.
That streak ended Saturday night with a 5-0 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers in Medicine Hat, but the Canes got back in the win column Sunday in Cranbrook with a 6-4 win over the Kootenay Ice.
“Everyone is playing their part and learning their role, the new guys and the old guys,” said Baer, whose team is back at the Enmax Centre Saturday night at 7 p.m. when the Saskatoon Blades come calling.
“The scorers are scoring and the goalies are playing well. So I feel everyone is putting in their percentage of the pie and we’re all doing our role.”
This weekend’s games are the first two of four in a row at home for Lethbridge, who resumes their homestand Wednesday against the Moose Jaw Warriors and Friday against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
“It’s a big two weekends for us here,” said Baer. “Obviously we need some points because we have a road trip after this. If we get as many points as we can in these four games we’ll be good.”
The Hurricanes are 1-0-0-1 against Victoria this season. It will be the final game against Western Conference opponents for the team.
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