May 30th, 2024

Canes facing big tests this weekend

By Dale Woodard on October 29, 2021.

As far as early-season tests go, the Lethbridge Hurricanes are about to get one.

Those tests will come in the form of Tristen Robins and the Saskatoon Blades as well as the Winnipeg Ice and, well, the Winnipeg Ice.

First up is 7-1-1-0 Saskatoon, led by league-leading scorer Robins as the Blades draw into the Enmax Centre in Western Hockey League play tonight at 7 p.m.

The second part of the weekend test won’t get any easier when the 11-0-0-0 and second nationally ranked Ice pay a visit.

Coming off a 5-3 win over the Prince Albert Raiders Saturday at the Enmax Centre, the Hurricanes now gear up for this weekend’s big test, which will be followed up next week with a Tuesday stop in Edmonton to take on the Oil Kings.

As for the challenge, Hurricanes forward Chase Wheatcroft feels his team is up for the task.

“These next three games are against the top teams, but I don’t think any of us in here are worried about it. I think we’re all pretty confident in our ability and it’ll be exciting when the puck drops.”

Saturday’s win over the Raiders improved the Hurricanes to 4-3-0-0, one point behind the Medicine Hat Tigers (4-4-0-1) and five back of the Red Deer Rebels (6-4-1-0) and the Oil Kings (6-2-0-1).

“It’s been a pretty good week,” said Wheatcroft, who has three goals and eight points in seven games, good for third on the team. “Coach Kis (Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio) has been on us for a good reason, these are two of the top teams in the entire league. It’s going to be an awesome test. It’s why you play hockey, to play those good teams and have close games. It’ll be awesome to see where we sit so far and what we have to work on.”

The Blades bring an eight-game undefeated streak into tonight’s game, having gone 7-0-1-0 in that span.

They are led by overage forward Robins, whose seven goals and 19 points in eight games leads the WHL.

Teammate Kyle Crnkovic is three points back with seven goals and 16 points nine games.

The Hurricanes will have some big guns to try and keep silent tonight.

“Especially that top line with Saskatoon, it’s a pretty good line,” said Wheatcroft. “But I think we have the ability to shut them down with the way we play and we’re going to have to when it comes to game time because those guys can win them games.”

The Ice, meanwhile, head into tonight’s game in Edmonton looking to make a little league history.

The Ice can tie the WHL record for the longest winning streak to begin a regular season at 12 games with a win tonight over the Oil Kings, who happen to be ranked third in the Canadian Hockey League.

The record was set by the Swift Current Broncos during the 1988-89 season.

A win in Edmonton and another over the Canes Saturday would make Winnipeg the only team in league history to start a regular season with 13 straight victories.

The Ice are led by Mikey Milne, who has eight goals and 17 points in 11 games.

But Winnipeg has six players sitting in the top-10 in league scoring, the other five players being rookie Matthew Savoie, Connor McClennon, Owen Pederson, Zachary Benson and Skyler Bruce.

Winnipeg is currently on a five-game road trip with the fourth stop tonight in Edmonton before wrapping up the trek Saturday in Lethbridge.

“I think it’s exciting,” said Wheatcroft.

“Our team really wants to be the team that beats them first. I think we’re going to come into that game flying and with a lot of energy. I think we just have to take the body and play physical against those guys and wear them down and hopefully pot a couple.”

Hurricanes leading scorer Alex Thacker also welcomed the chance to be tested this weekend.

“It’s massive for our team,” said Thacker who has three goals and 10 points in seven games this season and netted the game-winner late in Saturday’s win over the Raiders. “We’ve been tested before with Edmonton and Red Deer, but these two teams are at the top of their division right now. So hopefully we can well against them.”

Thacker noted the Canes overall size will bode well for them this weekend, starting tonight with the Blades.

“I think us being a bigger team, we just have to play them hard in the corner and hit them a lot and hopefully shut them down,” he said.

The same will hold true against the Ice Saturday.

“They’re smaller and skilled,” said Thacker. “So hopefully our bigger team can shut down them down physically.”

NOTES: The Hurricanes will be wearing special jerseys to celebrate the Lethbridge Bulls winning the Western Canadian Baseball League championship in August.

The jerseys can be bid on via online auction that runs until Nov. 5 at noon.

Net proceeds will be donated to Lethbridge & Taber KidSport and Canadian Tire’s Jump Start Program.

On Saturday, the B-93 Halloween Howler will take place.

Fans are encouraged to wear their costumes to the game for a chance to win prizes for best adult and youth costumes. Fans can also trick-or-treat around the arena at Brimstone Grill in the Canadian Western Bank Lounge, at the concessions, at the 50/50 booths, at Guest Services and at Top Shelf.

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