By Woodard, Dale on November 22, 2019.
Christmas is still a little over a month away, but it looks as though the Lethbridge Hurricanes are getting into the season spirit of sharing.
They’ll hope festive feeling continues in the clash of first-place teams as the Canes host the Prince Albert Raiders in Western Hockey League play tonight at 7 p.m. at the Enmax Centre.
Coming off a 6-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos Wednesday night in Swift Current that moved the Canes at 15-6-0-3 and into a tie for first place with the 14-4-3-2 Edmonton Oil Kings for first in the Central Division, Lethbridge sits one point behind the defending champion Raiders (15-4-3-1) for first overall.
The win in Swift Current wrapped up a 2-1 road trip that saw the Canes lose 3-2 to the Victoria Royals Friday night before responding with a 6-2 win Sunday night in Vancouver.
It also saw the Canes spread the scoring through the second and third lines as the likes of Zack Stringer, Jett Jones and Noah Boyko provide some secondary scoring.
On Wednesday in Swift Current, even the defence got in on the act as new acquisition Trevor Thurston – playing his first game with Lethbridge since being acquired from the Kamloops Blazers Monday – scored the Hurricanes sixth goal of the game.
“Vancouver really helped us with the offence in the next game,” said Hurricanes first-year forward Ty Nash. “We had second- and third-line guys contributing and it’s not always (Dylan) Cozens scoring. So it really helps.
“It’s important to get other guys going besides our first line. It’s a great help from the second- and third-line guys to get some scoring and get going.”
Not that the likes of Cozens and league-leading goal scorer Oliver Okuliar were shut out on the recent trip. Cozens scored both goals in the loss the Victoria and added another in Swift Current to give 16 on the season, while Okuliar added his 17th of the season in Vancouver.
Cozens is fourth in league scoring with 32 points in 22 games, while Okuliar is sixth with 31 points in 24 games.
They’ll contend with the overall scoring leader tonight in Aliaksei Protas, who has 25 goals and 34 points in 23 games.
He is backed up by Brayden Watts and Ozzy Wiesblatt, who each have 27 points and Spencer Moe’s 24 points in 23 games.
There will be some Lethbridge talent in the lineup as Michael Horon returns to town with his new team, having been traded to the Raiders from the Seattle Thunderbirds earlier this month. In three games in Prince Albert, Horon has one assist and put up one goal and nine points in 17 games in Seattle before the trade.
The top-five players in plus-minus in the WHL all are Hurricanes and Raiders, led by Protas (plus-22), Canes defenceman Ty Prefontaine (plus-21) and rounded out by Raiders Zack Hayes and Watts and Okuliar (all plus-20).
Hurricanes defenceman Alex Cotton has an eight-game points scoring streak, putting up four goals and 12 points in that span to continue to lead all WHL blue-liners. Lethbridge’s Calen Addison is third in defenceman scoring with four goals and 21 points in 23 games.
In goal, Canes goaltender Carl Tetachuk is second in goals-against at 1.94 and his save percentage is a third-best .930. Raiders goalie Boston Bilous is seventh in that category at 2.27 and a .904 save percentage.
“I’m really excited,” said Nash of tonight’s showdown. “We want to take first place this weekend and have a good weekend and be ready for Regina.”
The Hurricanes are in Red Deer Saturday night to take on the Rebels and return to the Enmax Centre Wednesday to host the Pats.
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