By Lethbridge Herald on September 28, 2023.
By Justin Seward
The Lethbridge U18AAA Hurricanes kick off a new Alberta Elite Hockey League season tonight under the guidance of new head coach Kevin Higo.
“I think it’s gone well,” said Higo, on preparation.
“I mean we took a different approach to the building of the team. We did a spring evaluation camp back in April and then when we started in September, we got to 35 guys right from there and have slowly whittled it down. And on Sunday, just this week, was when we got down to the final roster. So (I) thought the process has been really good. We got to get to know the kids; we like the makeup of our team.”
Higo said there’s going to be some growing pains for sure.
“I think we’re fairly young,” said Higo.
“Like we don’t have a ton of returning guys. But so far the kids have been very receptive. We’ve been throwing a lot at them both on and off the ice and it’s been good so far, like we’ve really taken some strides forward and we’re excited to get the season going.”
Higo has been coaching for nearly 25 years and combining that with his junior coaching experience is what he is trying to implement with this team.
“But also with my experience, especially at the Junior A level, working on the fundamentals, the basic skills that the guys are going to need to play at the next level,” said Higo.
“And we’ve added some extra ice times. We’re going to skate more, more practice, more than the team has ever done before. Then we’re going to really focus on trying to work on situational skills and so individual skills that are going to help them prepare for the next level. And then when it gets to playing a team game, like we’re not going to try and do anything that nobody else has done. Most of the stuff we’re going to do is the way that teams play at the higher levels, whether it’d be Junior A or major junior, and help these guys prepare as much as they can for that step.”
The team is learning more life skills so they are prepared for life after hockey in the real world.
Higo spoke about how the team’s gelling ahead of the season.
“I think the fortunate thing that you have nowadays is a lot of the kids know each other, whether it’d be from spring hockey, or Hockey Alberta camps, or whatever the case may be,” said Higo.
“I think we have a good group of guys that seem to get along well. We’ve spent a lot of time together over the past three weeks and I think the guys are starting to come together. It’ll be much easier to start adding more clearly defined roles, linemates, and defence partners and those kind of things.”
The Hurricanes will be a team that skates well, competes hard, a team that realizes they don’t have the top 5 or 10 scorers from a year ago, a team that’s enthused about their goaltending and have raw ability on the backend that’s going to need time to adjust.
“But probably the strength of the team is we’re going to live and die with a 20-man unit,” said Higo.
“We can’t expect one or two guys or three guys are going to score us to victory. Somebody’s going to have to step up probably and it’s probably going to be somebody different every night for us to win.”
The Canes host the Calgary North Stars in their home opener tonight at Nicholas Sheran Arena at 7:15 p.m.