April 17th, 2024

Canes ready to hit the play button


By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on January 12, 2022.

They’re back. They’re unpaused.
And they’ll be busy.
After being placed on hold on New Year’s Day due to landing on the Western Hockey League COVID-19 protocol list, the Lethbridge Hurricanes return to their regular season schedule tonight when they host the Swift Current Broncos at 7 p.m. at the Enmax Centre.
As the Canes look to climb back into the playoff race in the tight Eastern Conference, they’ll have plenty of games in a small amount of time to do so. That includes making up the four games they lost due to the pause in what was already a hectic schedule prior to the unscheduled break that affected pretty much every other team across the league as well.
Suddenly, the stretch drive has turned into a stretch sprint – which also includes the WHL trade deadline Jan. 17 – but Canes forward Chase Wheatcroft feels his team is up for the challenge.
“I think it’s something every kid looks forward to, you play 41 (games) in 81 (days),” said Wheatcroft. “That’s awesome, a lot of hockey for us. I know in the room we’re pretty excited for it and I think we have the room to get a lot of wins going into this next stretch and make a good push for the playoffs.”
Adding to the situation is the busy roster movement just prior to the pause as Hurricanes general manager Peter Anholt pulled the trigger on a few deals.
On Dec. 28 the Hurricanes sent forward Noah Boyko to the Saskatoon Blades for Hayden Smith and a third-round pick in the 2025 WHL draft.
Later that day, the Hurricanes claimed 2003-born European forward Liekit Reichle off waivers from the Prince George Cougars while waiving 2004-born forward Peter Repcik.
Three days later, the Canes shipped defenceman Trevor Thurston to the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange for Tyson Laventure and Ross Stanley.
In perhaps an ironic twist, the time spent in quarantine during the pause afforded the Canes a bit of bonding time.
“We were five days, all trapped in our houses,” said Wheatcroft. “So we all got on the Xboxes and the PS 4’s and guys spent some time together and got some bonds going. Especially with those new guys, we got to know them early with the Xbox. I thought we got closer over that time and we came out of this even better. It’s going to be great for the next couple of weeks.”
The new Canes will debut tonight.
“I’m excited,” said Laventure, who had five goals and 14 points in 23 games with the Raiders this season. “I hope to do my best and do whatever I can to try and help the team win.
“I’m a pretty offensive player, but I also play a solid two-way game and get some offensive help.”
Of course, Laventure and the new players’ arrival in Lethbridge came at a unique time.
“It was a little bit different, coming straight into a quarantine,” said Laventure. “But we were back on the ice within a couple of days getting into practice and getting back into shape from the Christmas break. So it was great to get going again and I think we’re ready.”
Having seen them in a practice setting, Wheatcroft likes what he has seen from the new additions.
“They look awesome,” he said. “They’re all great additions to our team. I’m excited to see how they play (tonight). That’s what our team needed, some of those guys and they’re going to be some big parts going forward. I think they’re really going to help us.”
The Hurricanes come into tonight’s game at 12-13-2-0, having lost back-to-back games to the Broncos Dec. 27 and 28.
That puts them in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, two points back of the Raiders and the Regina Pats and four back of the eighth place Broncos.
However, the Canes have five games in hand on the Broncos and the Raiders and four on the Pats.
The run starts tonight and heads right into a busy weekend as the Hurricanes host the Raiders Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Enmax Centre, head to Medicine Hat Saturday to tangle with the Tigers and come back home Sunday to take on the Edmonton Oil Kings at 6 p.m.
“We have to stay focused over these next couple of months and really take care of ourselves,” said Wheatcroft. “Forty-one games are a lot of games, so we have to take care of ourselves and utilize every single game we have and hopefully get some wins over this stretch.”
Fortunately, Laventure, who will turn 19 at the end of the month, knows a few things about demanding schedules.
“I’ve got a little experience with that, being in the bubble last year,” he said. “We played quite a few games back-to-back-to-back. So I’ll try to use that experience to be prepared to go.”

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