After ten days away, I'm back in the saddle blogging about the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Club is down to its final 11 games in the regular season. It'll be interesting to see how things unfold when the off-season begins in less than a month for this club. The Canes will miss the playoffs for a 6th consecutive season. For a second year in a row though, the club will have a shot at the first overall pick in the WHL Bantam Draft in a few months as well as another top selection in this year's CHL Import Draft.
The positive is that the Canes have been playing better hockey since the WHL's trade deadline in early January. Again, there will be plenty of questions to be asked after the season is done and I'm sure the whole discussion about selling this long time community-owned franchise will heat up again in the weeks to follow the end of the season.
Other questions that'll be asked include the future of Head Coach and GM Peter Anholt. Will he be back running the show next year and beyond? Will he be offered a contract going forward? Does he want both jobs? Does he want just one of the two? Will the other coaches, Mike Craig, Bryan Maxwell, and Jeff Battah come back for another season under Anholt if he returns? Again, plenty of questions going forward, likely guaranteeing another eventful off-season in Hurricane land!
With that said, the Canes played host to the Edmonton Oil Kings Thursday night at the ENMAX Centre. Edgars Kulda scored a couple of minutes into overtime as the defending WHL and Memorial Cup Champs beat the Canes 3-2.
The loss was the Canes 5th in a row.
The Hurricanes actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead in this hockey game. Mike Winther scored his 12th goal of the season to give the Canes a 1-0 lead early. That was followed up by Ryan Vandervlis who put home his 2nd of the season about six minutes later to give the home team a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes of play.
There was no scoring in the second period of this game, giving the Canes that same two goal lead heading in the final period.
In the third though, the Oil Kings came charging back. Brandon Ralph got the visitors to within one goal when he scored midway through the period and then with just over a minute to go, Edmonton tied the game with a power play goal from Brett Pollock. That tied things up at 2-2, sending the game into overtime. In the extra period the Oil Kings completed the comeback when Edgars Kulda scored and that would be it, Edmonton ended up scoring three unanswered goal to win the game 3-2.
The loss drops the Canes overall record to 18-35-5-3 in 61 games this season. Stuart Skinner was very busy in goal as the Oil Kings heavily out shot the Hurricanes 48-21. Edmonton went 1/6 on the power play and Lethbridge 0/5.
The Canes next action is Saturday (Feb. 28) when they take the Rebels in Red Deer. It's the first of five in a row on the road. Next week the Canes will travel east to Brandon Wednesday (Mar. 4), Saskatoon Friday (Mar. 5), and in Prince Alberta (Mar. 6). They'll return west, but play in Kootenay (Mar. 10). The Hurricanes have only four home games left, they're next game at the ENMAX Centre isn't until Friday, March 13th when they host Edmonton again.