After five intense days of practices, fitness testing and scrimmaging training camp for the Lethbridge Hurricanes wrapped up with a pair of games – 3rd place and the Alumni Championship Games on Sunday.
The final featured Team Red (formerly Team Blue) and Team White (formerly Team Red/White) who both finished the round-robin with identical 3-1 records. Joining them behind the bench for the game were a pair of Canes Alum: Mike Wuchterl for Team White who was back to defend the title he won last year and Cason Machacek who led Team Red.
Christopher Tai, who was listed by the Hurricanes after training camp in 2010, was in goal for Team White and he got off to a great start. Two minutes into the game the ’95-born goalie from Delta, BC stopped Russell Maxwell on a penalty shot and later in the period Josh Hayward also missed on a penalty shot. Team Red opened the scoring on a goal by Ryley Rimmer (Axel Blomqvist, Russ Maxwell) at the 13:30 mark but less than two minutes later, Graham Hood (Jay Merkley) tied the game and the first period would end 1-1. Team White would outshoot Team Red 18-11 with Tai making 10 saves and his counterpart Tanner Kovacs stopped 17.
It didn’t take long for Team White to retake the lead in the second with a goal from Andrew Perry (Tanner Laderoute) at the 2:20 mark, but again Team Red would respond on a goal from Russ Maxwell (Axel Blomqvist, Cale Brown). 15-year old Jesse Zaharichuk (Alex Spielvogel) gave Team White a 3-2 lead and two minutes later Josh Giacomin (Andrew Perry) would add some insurance. Team Red was not going away as Lenny Hackman (Josh Dickie) would make it a 4-3 game and from there Tai would stand his ground as both Brandon Kennedy and Axel Blomqvist would be denied on a pair of penalty shots late in the game.
Earlier in the day Team Red who finished the round-robin with a 1-3 record came out firing on all cylinders and scored a pair of goals less than three minutes apart (Wyatt Noskey and Harrison Harper) to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Jonny Hogue would make 18 saves on the 20 shots he faced for Team White while Ryan Ferguson would stop all 9 that he faced. In the second period, Alexandre Pelletier and Brody Dirk would take over netminding duties and once again Team Red would find their scoring touch. Michael Sofillas (Harrison Harper, Jaimen Yakubowski) made it a 3-nothing game before Yakubowski (Michael Sofillas, Devin Ruff) put the game away with their fourth goal at the 15:15 mark. Harper, Sofillas and Yakubowski for 7 points in the win with the final shots on goal were 44-23 for Team Red.
As for his assessment, Hurricanes GM/Head Coach Rich Preston said it was a great week and he was really happy with how all the vets, draft picks and camp invites tested in their fitness (of the 96’s and 97’s Reid Duke was top guy.) Preston said “it was a real competitive camp, a good goaltending battle with Kovacs, Hogue and Tai and Rimmer looks good but now is the real test with preseason. Playing against other teams is a lot different, higher intensity and more battles. It’s another evaluation process that will take us through the next two weeks and we’ll see where we are as far as getting down to our team.”
With Camp now over, the Canes will now prepare for their six game exhibition schedule. The first preseason game will be Wednesday, September 5th when the Canes head to Taber to play the Calgary Hitmen at the Taber Arena.
(From Esther Madziya, Hurricanes Media Relations)