By Lethbridge Herald on December 27, 2023.
By Justin Seward
The Lethbridge Hurricanes had a mixture of great highlights and major changes throughout the calendar year of 2023.
“I think it was a good step in the direction that we’re headed through a little bit of a reload phase right now,” said Matt Anholt, Lethbridge Hurricanes assistant coach.
The club saw the club’s most winningest head coach Brent Kisio move on to the pro ranks with the Henderson Silver Knights in the off season.
“Starting off with Kis moving on to pro, I think was an excellent thing for the organization,” said Anholt.
Bill Peters was hired after Kisio’s departure and came in and started a new regime.
“It’s been a little bit of a change for everybody in the whole organization,” said Anholt.
“(They are) two different people and two different coaches (with) how they are and the way that they coach the game and they teach the game.”
Defencemen Noah Chadwick was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in last summer’s NHL entry draft and was the first Cane drafted since Alex Cotton in 2020.
Jett Jones and Bryan Thomson signed pro deals after their WHL careers were complete as 20 year olds.
“Which is excellent to move guys on to pro after they’re here in your system for as long as they were,” said Anholt.
Anholt thought this past spring’s WHL Prospects Draft was exciting for the club.
“Just starting off the top with Dayne Beuker being a top 3 talent in the draft in regards to forwards and defence, ” said Anholt.
“We were able to pick him 14th and obviously he’s still an unsigned player at this moment but we’re very comfortable where we’re at there with Dayne and the Beuker family. So we expect at some point he’ll be wearing a Hurricanes jersey.”
The Canes picked Chase Petersen and Gavin Lesiuk in the second round, who Anholt feels are going to be two big forwards that are going to be difficult to play against and will add goals.
“We’ll see if they end up being 16 year olds next year for us,” said Anholt.
“But we’re playing a long game with all those prospects. So we got to make sure that we do what’s right by them.”
Will Scott and Grady Pichette were defencemen chosen by the Canes in the draft.
“We’re really happy with just how we … hit on a lot of different positions and a lot of key positions that we need to fill out here as the seasons move on here with a lot of guys graduating soon,” said Anholt.
“So far, 2023 was a great year for us,” said Terry Huisman, Hurricanes general manager of business operations.
“We were off to a quick start. We had a great year this year with our sales and our advertising. So we’re going to end up probably overbudget on the advertising side, which is fantastic. Ticket sales have been strong to date (and) stronger than the previous years. So we’re starting to see some return from the COVID. However, we do have an uphill battle still with getting ourselves back to that pre-COVID levels.”