Prior to the Pandemic
Despite losing a ton of offence from the 2018-19 side that was upset in the opening round of the playoffs, the Hurricanes picked up right where they left off with several players putting up points. The stage was set for a matchup with the archrival Medicine Hat Tigers that could have been the best first round contest in the CHL last spring when COVID-19 brought everything to a halt.
While they were without potential double slot import overager Oliver Okuliar and saw stars Calen Addison and Dylan Cozens start their pro careers, the Hurricanes were able to adapt to those losses as they hovered around the .500 mark for most of the season before finishing the campaign with a 9-12-3-0 mark. They also nearly became the only team to beat the Edmonton Oil Kings twice this year, as they lost a 3-2 overtime decision in their final game of the campaign.
Offensively, the Hurricanes saw their offence drop from an almost four goal a night average over the last two seasons to a 3.37 goal per game mark this year, which just about matched their output in their run to the Eastern Conference final in 2018.
Meanwhile, their goals against per game jumped up to 4.50, which was the most they’ve allowed on average since a 4.22 mark in the 2014-15 season.
- Dino Kambeitz (6-14-20 in 21 games)
- Liam Kindree (4-13-17 in 21 games – Committed to the UBC Thunderbirds for next season)
- Logan Barlage (8-12-20 in 24 games)
- Justin Hall (12-15-27 in 24 games)
- Jacob Boucher (0-3-3 in 14 games)
- Noah Boyko (10-4-14 in 23 games)
- Jett Jones (6-3-9 in 24 games)
- Alex Thacker (3-14-17 in 23 games)
- Chase Wheatcroft (8-7-15 in 23 games)
- Salvatore Collora (1-0-1 in 12 games)
- Nikita Chibrikov (Unsigned 2020 import draft pick – 1-1-2 in 16 games for SKA St. Petersburg)
- Ty Nash (4-9-13 in 24 games)
- Zack Stringer (5-9-14 in 23 games)
- Briley Wood (0-0-0 in 15 games)
- Reid Mackay (0-1-1 in 5 games)
- Cole Miller (1-0-1 in 11 games)
- Logan Wormald (3rd round pick in 2020 – 2-2-4 in five games for the Yale Hockey Academy Under-18 Prep team – 26-36-62 in 30 games for the Yale Hockey Academy Under-15 Prep team in 2019-20)
While Okuliar, Cozens and Brett Davis had all moved on, the Hurricanes did welcome back the majority of their offence from last season, which gave them a few different options in their search for goals.
Once again, the overall depth of Lethbridge’s forwards was on full display during the shortened campaign, with veterans like Justin Hall, Logan Barlage, Dino Kambeitz and waiver wire pickup Liam Kindree leading the charge.
In addition to those players, guys like Ty Nash, Zack Stringer, Alex Thacker, Noah Boyko and Chase Wheatcroft also did damage, which puts the club in a really solid spot as they get ready for the upcoming season.
Another piece that could be a big one for the Hurricanes is 2020 CHL Import Draft pick Nikita Chibrikov. While his KHL numbers weren’t dazzling, the Russian forward had 13 points in seven games at the World Under-18’s this spring and is a potential first round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. If he were to come over to North America, he would be a huge addition for the Hurricanes offence.
- Mitchell Prowse (0-5-5 in 22 games – Committed to the McGill Redbirds for next season)
- Alex Cotton (7-19-26 in 24 games – Detroit Red Wings draft pick)
- Danila Palivko (2-6-8 in 48 games for Neman Grodno in Belarus – 2-19-21 in 62 games for the Hurricanes in 2019-20)
- Trevor Thurston (3-1-4 in 12 games)
- Joe Arntsen (1-6-7 in 23 games)
- Nolan Bentham (Acquired from the Victoria Royals – 1-2-3 in 52 games for the Royals in 2019-20)
- Chase Pauls (0-3-3 in 21 games)
- Kayden Sadhra-King (0-1-1 in 9 games)
- Easton Kovacs (0-0-0 in 11 games)
- Logan McCutcheon (1-10-11 in 23 games)
- Noah Chadwick (2nd round pick in 2020 – 0-0-0 in six games for the Saskatoon Contacts – 9-33-42 in 21 games for the Saskatoon Under-15 Stallions in 2019-20)
In addition to Addison, the Hurricanes blueline also lost Koletrane Wilson and Ty Prefontaine to graduation, while import Danila Palivko did not return for his third season with the team.
As a result, there were a lot of different faces on the backend in Lethbridge this year, with the majority of the group getting their first real taste of WHL experience.
Although they took their lumps in the goals against department, there were a lot of positives to take away from the season. Alex Cotton continues to be one of the best offensive blueliners in the WHL, Joe Arntsen easily bested his rookie year point output in half the games and Logan McCutcheon took over the number two jersey that had previously been worn by Addison with a solid freshman campaign.
- Carl Tetachuk (5-7-3 with a 4.11 GAA, an .878 save percentage and zero shutouts – Traded to the Moose Jaw Warriors)
- Bryan Thomson (4-3-0 with a 4.75 GAA, an .867 save percentage and zero shutouts)
- Jared Picklyk (0-2-0 with a 4.02 GAA, an .874 save percentage and zero shutouts)
As a result of the younger defence, the Hurricanes netminders found themselves pretty busy on a nightly basis during the season, though their final numbers might not be the best indication of their overall performances.
Carl Tetachuk ended up suiting up for the majority of the games this year, but that was for unfortunate reasons as Bryan Thomson returned home to Moose Jaw in April following the death of his father.
On the surface, it didn’t look like there was going to be much of an overhaul with the Hurricanes roster as general manager Peter Anholt and head coach Brent Kisio prepared for the 2021-22 season. However, that changed on June 10 with a pair of trades.
The first move saw the Hurricanes strengthen their defence by acquiring Nolan Bentham from the Victoria Royals. While he didn’t play this season, Bentham is a former first round pick and should help add to what’s already looking a strong blueline in the coming years.
The other deal saw Tetachuk go to the Moose Jaw Warriors, which gives Thomson the inside track as the starting goaltender for next year and sets the overagers in place with Barlage, Hall and Cotton filling those roles, though that could change if the club’s top blueliner is signed by the Detroit Red Wings and starts his pro career.
The Hurricanes didn’t have much luck in the WHL Prospects Draft Lottery as they fell from the seventh overall pick to the 17th selection in December’s opening round, but they do have a second round pick and a fifth rounder for the event. They also have their first, second, fourth and fifth round picks for 2022, in addition to a fourth rounder they acquired from Kelowna in 2018 in exchange for Alex Swetlikoff.
In terms of next season, the Hurricanes don’t look to be a legit title threat as of yet, but they should easily make the playoffs. If the offence continues to find the back of the net and the defence shows improvement, they might challenge the Oil Kings and the Tigers for the Central Division title.