May 21st, 2024

Canes welcome the fans back

By Dale Woodard on October 2, 2021.

Playing their first game in front of fans as opposed to empty seats in 580 days, the Lethbridge Hurricanes offered plenty of reasons for applause.

Hosting their Western Hockey League season opener, the Canes downed the Calgary Hitmen 9-2 Friday night at the Enmax Centre.

Leading the stats night was Hurricanes veteran forward Noah Boyko with the hat trick, while overager Justin Hall scored once and added four assists as the hosts struck for four first period goals.

Another honour was also handed out pregame as the Hurricanes announced forward Jett Jones and defenceman Joe Arntsen as the franchise’s newest captains.

Fittingly, Jones opened the scoring 1:39 in as Lethbridge never trailed the rest of the way en route to the win.

Meanwhile, Boyko scored once in the first and twice more in the second – including a power play goal – skating on a veteran-laden line with Justin Hall and Logan Barlage.

Barlage had the Hurricanes’ ninth goal of the night.

“Just shoot the puck, that was kind of my motto tonight,” said Boyko. “Get the puck on net and it seemed to work my way. So it was good.”

Logan McCutcheon and Alex Thacker also scored in the first period while David Adaszynski and David Adaszynski replied for Calgary as Lethbridge led 4-2 after 40 minutes.

Boyko completed his hat trick with the first two goals of the second

Hall, Chase Wheatcroft and Barlage round out the scoring in the third, while goaltender Bryan Thomson stopped 41 of 43 shots.

Thacker added two assists for a three-point night, Wheatcroft had an assist for two points and Ty Nash had two helpers for the announced crowd of 3,603.

“It was just fun to back,” said Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio.

“It’s been a long time, 580 days to be exact. You could see our guys were excited. We had a lot of guys who hadn’t played in front of the fans here and felt that environment. Our crowd is so important to us and having them back and having the fans back means a lot and it showed on the ice.”

Jones noted the home crowd helped the Hurricanes build on their quick start.

“It’s hard to stop when you get on them quick and the fans just keep pushing you forward. That’s a lot of what happened tonight. They kept us going. They were loud and cheering and it’s very easy to play when you have fans screaming like that.”

As the Hurricanes wore their third jerseys, both Jones and Arntsen will share the C on theirs.

“He’s the guy because he’s the guy,” said Kisio of Jones’ selection. “That’s our family in there and we’ll keep it in there. But he’s our man and Arny is with him, too.”

“It’ a huge honor, ” added Jones. “Joe and I are co-captains this year. We have a great leadership group this year with lots of great guys who have worn letters here in the past. They’ve carved out the path for how we lead and we’ve had success with it. It’s huge honour for all of us, but everybody on the team is a leader, so it works out well.

“I like to play hard and get out there and have some hard shifts and set the tone. I like to play physical and I’m always loud on the bench. Stuff like that, keep the guys going and keep pushing guys to do their best and the team’s best.”

Taber’s Brayden Peters – a former Lethbridge midget AAA Hurricane — got the start for the Hitmen and played 34:03, stopping 20 of 26 shots. Jack McNaughton came on in relief and played the final 25:57, kicking out 15 of 18 shots.

The teams play the rematch Sunday in Calgary at 2 p.m.

The Hurricanes are back home when the Edmonton Oil Kings pay a visit Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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