December 20, 2007
For What it’s Worth: $5756.93
It’s time for Southern Alberta to jump on the Lethbridge Hurricanes bandwagon. Often a stigma is attached to bandwagon jumping…in this case….get over it. If you like hockey, then it’s easy to like these ‘Canes.
This year, Michael Dyck’s crew has accomplished plenty in the Western Hockey League’s first half. There’s nothing like a streak of points in 14 straight games (a 13-0-0-1 run to boot!) to get people talking. Scouts have noticed, giving the ‘Canes props, ranking them in the Canadian Hockey League’s top ten briefly this month.
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If you like offence, the Hurricanes have enough firepower to satisfy. Gifted players like Mitch Fadden and Zach Boychuk look great on the highlights (as seen on Global Lethbridge Sports @ 6&11, or watch on-line @ 杭州夜生活globallethbridge杭州龙凤, for those of you who have a “dish”), but to see their moves in person is even better. Sure, the ‘Canes are only 7th in the ‘Dub’ in scoring, but they don’t get to pad their stats by playing Portland 9 times a year.
If you like defence, the ‘Canes are vastly improved in keeping the puck out of their net. The club is giving up just over 2.6 goals a game, and share a pair of netminders, Michael Maniago and Juha Metsola who are 9th and 10th in GAA in the WHL respectively. The blue-line is anchored by their captain, Foremost’s Ben Wright (c’mon support a local-ish kid), 17 year-old rookie Luca Sbisa (who’s playing for Switzerland at the U20 World Championships starting boxing day in the Czech Republic) and 18 year-old Jesse Craige (who’s quietly putting together a fine campaign, leading the ‘Canes in plus-minus).
There’s plenty of grit to this ‘Canes squad as well. While they don’t have anybody matching Mike Reich’s douchbaggery (thank the hockey gods), Mitch Versteeg, Luke Weins, and Mike Wuchterl aren’t afraid to chuck some knucks.
The best reason to watch the Hurricanes is that more often than not, the club gives an honest effort. These kids are trying hard, trying to get better, trying to improve, trying to become a force in the ‘Dub.’
Make no mistake, the ‘Canes have a great amount of local support. However, there’s plenty of room at the Enmax Centre for about a thousand more fans. The team is averaging just over 3600 fans for their first 22 home games; the capacity of the old Sportsplex is nearly 4800. A game against Calgary on December 12th, with first place in the Central Division and Eastern Conference on the line, drew just 3200. That’s pretty disappointing.
So Southern Alberta, it’s time to support major junior hockey again (or even for the first time). Start now. Buy some tickets. Check out the Hurricanes for one or two (or all) of their 14 home games left. Get to know the team. Become a fan again. It’s more fun than you probably remember. And as for the decade plus since the Hurricanes won a playoff series, forget about it. There was a time (not too long ago) when Medicine Hat was the WHL’s laughing stock. Now you can’t get a seat at the Arena. And the way the Hurricanes are shaping up for this season, and the future, the balance of power just might be shifting down Highway 3. Remember, it’s always best to get on the bandwagon early….than too late, or even worse, not at all.