The Lethbridge Hurricanes kicked off their 2012 Training Camp on home ice Tuesday, August 28th at the ENMAX Centre.
Camp this year features close to 80 participants and includes half of the 2011-2012 team. Not returning to this year’s Hurricanes squad are Juraj Bezuch (waived ahead of the Import Draft and picked up by the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers), Phil Tot (traded to Tri City), Landon Oslanski (waived and picked up by Everett) and Liam Liston (traded to Vancouver). Other players who left the team in the off-season were Max Moline (retired to pursue his education at the U of L) and Tyler Kizuik (also heading to the U of L).
As we get into camp, we’ll preview each position and some key players to watch including the Defense which featured some young rookies last year who are back to be even better as they patrol the back end.
The Hurricanes D took a bit of hit just weeks before training camp was to start as Adam Henry was diagnosed with a condition known as Myocarditis that would keep him out of the lineup until January, a tough setback for the 17-year old who is in his draft year. Last season Henry finished top three in scoring among blueliners with 21 points (4G, 17A) in 60 games. He was a minus-2 plus/minus rating and is still expected to be a significant contributor when he returns to the Canes in early 2013.
Continuing to patrol the blueline will be veteran Dan Johnston who is a leader both on and off the ice and came into camp once again as one of the fittest players on the team. The 20-year old native of Calgary, AB had 29 points in 55 games last season and will once again be looked upon to lead a core group of players to limit opponents scoring after the opposition averaged just over 4 goals a game last season. Joining Johnston as veteran leaders will be 19-year old’s Spencer Galbraith and Albin Blomqvist. Galbraith was acquired from the Canes in October after a trade with Brandon and he instantly became a fan favorite with his gritty style of play. At 6’3 and just over 200 pounds, Blomqvist was a towering presence on the Hurricanes blueline last year, but his season was limited due to illness and a concussion that saw him play just 38 games. In that time he scored a goal and added two assists, he was a minus-8 plus/minus rating and added 74 PIM’s. Blomqvist came into training camp healthy (and among the top 3 in fitness testing in both the Bench Press and Broad Jump) and he’s eager to contribute to the team this season.
2011 Rookie Macoy Erkamps posted 20 points (4G, 16A) in 63 games with the Canes last year and proved that the 95-born D-man was not out of place among the older WHL’ers he went up against each and every night. Erkamps is a solid two-way defenseman who will be looked upon to bring even more to the team this season. Other players to watch at camp are 95-born Joel Topping, who helped lead his Red Deer Rebels to another outstanding season in the AMHL. The Rebels were the League and Provincial Champions and they overcame a 5-1 deficit in the 3rd period to win the prestigious TELUS Cup 6-5 in OT. Topping also earned the Brian Benning Award as the Top Defenseman this year. Other key players to watch and who could earn a roster spot are Ryan Pilon (96), Branden Scheidl (95) and Lenny Hackman (95).
Of note: four of the Hurricanes Bantam Picks from this year are all defenseman and are all making their first appearance at WHL training camp. Highly touted blueliner Thomas Lenchyshyn (1st round, 18th overall), Kade Jensen (5th round, 103rd overall), Brandon Kennedy (6th round, 113 overall) and Logan Fauber (10th round, 204th overall). A dark horse could be Cochrane, AB native Connor Sutton who comes to camp at 6’3, 215 lbs.
Also keep an eye on: Daniel Sosa (95), Greydon Robinson (96), Cale Brown (96), Bryton Sayers (96), Liam Watson (96), Roman Melzer (96), Phoenix Worth (96), Alex Spielvogel (96), Robert McClellan (96), Braden Ruff (97), Lawson McDonald (97), and Cole Kapak (97).
(From Esther Madziya, Hurricanes Media Relations)