The Lethbridge Hurricanes season came to an abrupt end Friday night at home with a 7-2 loss to the visiting Regina Pats.
The Hurricanes came out very flat in what was a must-win game. They were down 3-0 after the first five Regina shots and after the first period was done, it was 4-0 Pats. Perhaps it was playoff elimination jitters, but it wasn't the way the packed ENMAX Centre crowd expected the Hurricanes to come out.
The Canes were simply out played in this series. Game One was great. The Hurricanes took advantage of a Pats team that was quite frankly bad in that game and the Canes lit them up and were well-deserved for a 6-3 victory. However, give Regina a lot of credit, because that loss turned out to be a major wake-up call for John Paddock's group. They rattled off four straight victories after that, including two shut out wins in the series.
I think most Hurricanes backers would agree the match-up against Regina wasn't a good one for Lethbridge, especially given the regular season games the two clubs played. The Pats kind of had the Canes number this season and that, unfortunately for the Hurricanes, carried over into the post-season as well.
Look at it this way, it may have been just five playoff games, but for a team that should be returning the majority of its players next season, that post-season experience should be huge going into a new year this fall. Lets face it, no one expected the Hurricanes to become the team they have in such a short period of time. After missing the playoffs for seven straight years, getting to the playoffs was a big deal, let alone winning the Central Division. That's something no one can take away from this group.
This team reignited excitement around WHL hockey in Lethbridge for the first time in a long time. Although I wasn't in the broadcast booth to call the games, it was a hell of a lot of fun being in the stands as a fan for a number of these games. To feel the electricity around the ENMAX Centre and the excitement of the fans. To see the season end Friday was sad, but this team has absolutely nothing to its head low about, zero!
GM Peter Anholt and Head Coach Brent Kisio did amazing jobs this season. Anholt built a competitive, high-scoring team and gave Kisio the on-ice tools he needed to get the job done. Both deserve credit. Anholt is the architect of this team and if he doesn't win WHL Executive of the Year there is something seriously wrong in my opinion.
One thing if for sure, if this organization is finally back on track after years of downward spirals, then the future in certainly bright!
Thank you Hurricanes!