In the final of Ryan Ohashi's three-part series, we preview just a few of the names to look for in the Hurricanes forward group:
Fans should be ready for a show as the Hurricanes 20-year old overage players look to be one of the elite offensive units in the WHL. 2010-11 Alternate Captains Cam Braes (31G, 30A) and Austin Fyten (24G, 30A) once again finished their seasons with career bests. Both are true Hurricanes home grown talents from an impressive 2006 Bantam draft (Braes – 3rd round, 48th overall & Fyten – 2nd round, 27th overall). Braes ended 2010-11 with 61 points (31G, 30A) and 109 PIMs en route to the Hurricanes Top Scorer and Hurricanes Three Stars award. The native of Shawnigan Lake, BC became the Hurricanes first player to tackle the 30 goal plateau since Carter Ashton accomplished the feat in 08-09. Braes also enters this season nearing history as his amazing 276 WHL regular season games played in a Hurricanes jersey is only 60 games off of the 336 game mark set by Shane Peacock for the most career games played by a Hurricane all time.
Fyten had an injury plagued 2010-11 but was still able to tally a career year with 54 points (24G, 30A) and 103 PIMs in just 52 games due to an early season injury. A former Hurricanes Rookie of the Year award winner – Fyten, like Braes, has posted career seasons every year as a Hurricane and this year was the recipient of the Harry Ingarfield Memorial awarded to the Hurricanes MVP. Some of the past recipients of this award include Byron Ritchie, Brent Seabrook and Zach Boychuk. Fyten spent time this off season at the New York Rangers prospect camp and will attend Training Camp with Philadelphia Flyers this fall during the WHL Preseason.
Brody Sutter entered 2010-11 in search of a potential breakout season and after battling through some early injury he found it in the form of 42 points (18G, 24A) in just 46 games – tripling his previous career best season. When healthy he formed a potent tandem with Braes and Fyten and during the month of January - the trio (Braes (10G,9A), Fyten (9G,11A) and Sutter (4G,10A)) combined for an amazing 53 points (23G,30A) in just 14 games. After the 10-11 season he was awarded the 2011 Joan Kobal Memorial Award for perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship. This past summer his efforts were rewarded after he was selected in the 7th round of the 2011 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina selected Sutter with the 193rd overall pick and he became the third Lethbridge Hurricanes NHL Draft Pick to go to Raleigh, following in the footsteps of Zach Boychuk (1st rd. 2008) and Shane Willis (4th rd. 1997). Sutter became the 54th Lethbridge Hurricane to be selected in the NHL Draft and he currently has two cousins in Carolina's system with Brandon in Carolina and Brett currently playing in Charlotte the team's AHL affiliate. Sutter attended Carolina Hurricanes rookie camp during the summer and will attend his first NHL main camp this fall.
The Hurricanes will have a solid duo of veterans returning to the club up front with 92-born power forward Graham Hood and 93-born Philip Tot returning to the lineup with a pair of WHL seasons under their belt. At 6’3” 223 pounds Hood is by far the biggest body in the Hurricanes camp and has all the tools to be one of the elite power forwards in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. Tot will return to the ice for his third season in a Canes jersey and will look to turn some heads as his late birthdate makes him a 2012 eligible draft pick.
The Canes will have a hungry group of young guns up front led by none other then 2010-11 Hurricanes Rookie of the Year Russell Maxwell. The younger brother of graduate Mitch Maxwell – Russ will look to follow up his stellar 16 year old season with the same feisty edgy play that made him a fan favorite. Others looking to step up in their sophomore seasons include 93-born Michael Sofillas (So-fil-us) and Brady Ramsay. The Canes also added some international flavor to the 93-born group drafting Slovakian Juraj Bezuch [Yur-eye Be-Zoo-ch] a 5’10 175 pound forward in this past summer’s 2011 CHL Import Draft. Bezuch has been a member of both the U18 and U20 Slovakian National team and last season he tallied 38 goals and 27 assists for 65 points in 40 games in the U18 Extraliga Slovakia.
This group will be pushed by the likes of 94-born prospects and 2009 Hurricanes draft picks Sam McKechnie (3rd rd. 47th overall), Jaimen Yakubowski (4th rd. 77th overall) and 94-born forward Mitch Guiel (5th rd. 103rd overall). Add to this Regina Pats 2nd round pick Tayler Balog and the Canes begin to show their depth at the position with an abundance of skill and youth.
What should make this one of the most competitive Hurricanes Training Camps is an impressive 95-born class led by the Canes 2010 1st round pick (3rd overall) Jay Merkley the highest WHL drafted Lethbridge Hurricanes forward of all time. Last season he totaled 43 points (14G, 29A) in 32 games as a 15 year old in the Alberta Midget Hockey League with the AAA Calgary Buffaloes. Craig Leverton, selected by the Canes with one of their three second round selections (25th overall) is coming off a solid 2010-11 in which he tallied 32 points (10G, 22A) in 33 games with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Other 2010 Canes draft picks to keep an eye on up front include Jamal Watson (5th rd. 103rd overall) and Remi Laurencelle (8th rd. 157th overall). This camp will also be the first for several recent Canes draft picks including 96-born Top 5 pick Reid Duke. Duke was drafted 5th overall by the Canes in the 2011 draft this past summer becoming one of three Hurricanes forwards to be selected by Lethbridge in the Top 5 of the WHL Draft - the others being Merkley (3rd overall in 2010) and former Canes power forward Dwight King (4th overall in 2004). Duke was a force to be reckoned with this past season posting 64 points (28G, 36A) and 79 PIMs in 30 games with the Calgary Royals (AMBHL).
Overage Forwards: Cam Braes (91), Austin Fyten (91), Brody Sutter (91)
Veteran Forwards: Graham Hood (92), Phil Tot (93)
Sophomores in 11-12: Russell Maxwell (94), Brady Ramsay (93), Michael Sofillas (93)
Rookie (s) to keep an eye on at camp: Tayler Balog (94), Juraj Bezuch (93), Mitch Guiel (94), Remi Laurencelle (95), Craig Leverton (95), Jay Merkley (95), Sam McKechnie (94), Jamal Watson (95), Jaimen Yakubowski (94)
2011 WHL Draft Picks Attending 1st Camp: Reid Duke (96), Kolten Olynek (96), Carter Amson (96), Tyler Wong (96), Colby Chartier (96), Reid Nemeth (96)
(From Ryan Ohashi, Hurricanes Manager of Communications & Events)
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