May 21st, 2024

Headwater Hurricanes honour tournament’s namesake

By Dale Woodard on October 19, 2021.

For the Lethbridge U16 Headwater Hurricanes, it was a chance to break out the proverbial measuring stick against some top-calibre opponents early in the season.

It was also the chance to be tournament hosts and honour the event’s namesake as the Hurricanes hosted the Logan Boulet Memorial Tournament Friday through Sunday at the ATB Centre.

The Hurricanes went 2-2 on the weekend and came one game short of the championship final, losing 9-1 to the eventual tournament champion Northern Alberta Xtreme in the semifinals Sunday morning.

The weekend ended with a lopsided loss, but it wasn’t without the chance to honour the memory of Boulet, one of 16 people killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018 and the player whose decision to become an organ donor inspired over 100,000 people across Canada to do the same, creating the Logan Boulet Effect.

“We have a dressing room at the Logan Boulet Arena upstairs where we have his jersey and some of the insignia,” said Hurricanes head coach Garry Kimmen. “(Logan’s father) Toby and the Boulet family have done a great job of putting reminders in there. We’ve used the anagram that goes along with a lot of what’s already in that dressing room.”

Hurricanes forward Alex Westlund said the team is reminded of Boulet’s legacy every time they step in their room.

“We have a quote in our dressing room on the wall and we look up at it every day. It’s very inspiring to have a great donor and role model to look at.”

After dropping their first game of the weekend 8-2 to the Calgary North West Flames – the other tournament finalist – Friday, the Canes battled back with a pair of wins Saturday, defeating the St. Albert Flyers 4-2 before topping the Wilcox Notre Dame Hounds 5-2 to earn their berth in the semifinal Sunday morning.

“We all showed up ready to play on Saturday from the first puck drop,” said Westlund. “We came together as a team.”

But against the high-powered NAX, the northern squad jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first period and didn’t look back en route to the win.

“The kids played hard, I thought they were ready to go,” said Kimmen. “That’s a great NAX team. That’s probably, in my opinion, one of the best teams in Alberta at this level. To be honest, I think our kids got a little intimidated. They realized in the third period ‘Hey, let’s just play hockey.’ And then they were OK. I thought our third period was our best period.”

Westlund scored the lone Lethbridge goal mere seconds into the second to briefly make it 4-1.

“It was a very hard game, that team is probably one of the best in Alberta,” said Westlund. “I’m proud of what the boys did in the third period, but we’ve got to show up ready to play in the first and the second.”

The Logan Boulet Memorial Tournament allowed the Canes to see where they stack up against Alberta’s best early in the season, but post-tournament the hosts took a broader view of the weekend.

“We just got done talking about this in the dressing room, they grew as people, which for me is bigger than anything,” said Kimmen. “They need to grow as people, then as players, and I think they turned around and grew lots this weekend and got to learn lots. They learned what top-end players are like to play against.”

That said, Kimmen said his team’s compete level needs to be worked on as they resume their Alberta Elite Hockey League regular season this weekend.

“We need to be able to compete every shift and every time we step out on the ice at that level.”

Still, the chance to host a high-calibre tournament means a lot to his team, said Kimmen.

It’s a prestigious tournament. I think in our first game that was part of it, they were nervous. It’s their home tournament and a real tragedy how it happened and I love that they named it after Logan. Once they got that out (Saturday), they calmed down and played really well yesterday.”

The Hurricanes hit the road to continue their AEHL season, having started the campaign at 1-1.

They face the AC (Airdrie/Cochrane) Avalanche Saturday and the Calgary Royals Sunday.

“That’ll be good, coming off this trip where they got to learn, the home tournament,” said Kimmen. “Then they get to go on the road and bond a little bit, the bus ride and the hotel and that kind of stuff.”

The preseason rocked the Canes on the injury front, but Kimmen said the team seems to be mending.

That, and four games in three days didn’t do any further damage.

“It’s coming, and we made it through the weekend with only a couple bumps and bruises,” said Kimmen. “So that’s actually turned out OK.”

The Hurricanes return home to the Logan Boulet Arena Oct. 31 in a rematch with the Avalanche. Game time is 11:45 a.m.

In the final, NAX edged the Flames 4-3 to earn this year’s tournament title.

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