Monday, 2 October 2017

#CanesOTD - 30 Years Since First Regular Season Game

You had to know that if we did a retrospective on the 30-year anniversary of the first Lethbridge Hurricanes pre-season game, then we were going to do a 30-year anniversary piece of the club's first regular season weekend.

Believe it or not, that did happen 30-years ago this week, on October 3rd and 4th, 1987.

READ MORE: #CanesOTD - 30 Years Since Pre-Season Game #1

WHL hockey had been missing from Lethbridge for a year, after the Broncos left for Swift Current. Quick to return though, as the Calgary Wranglers relocated to Lethbridge for the start of the 1987-1988 campaign. The expectations weren't high for the team, which had finished out of the playoffs the last couple of seasons.

That opening weekend proved to be a bit of a harbinger for what was to come that season.

It all started in Medicine Hat on the 3rd. Much like the pre-season game, it turned into a track meet right from the get-go. Steve Young potted the first goal in Hurricanes history and a few minutes later, Kelly Ens made it 2-0. But then the two teams traded goals all the way through, including an eight-goal outburst in the third period. Jim Kambeitz tied the game for the Tigers with under a minute to go in final frame to send the game to extra time.

At 16:36, future NHLer Rob Dimaio beat Grant McPhail to complete the 8-7 come-from-behind victory.

The road didn't get easier for the Hurricanes from there, as they headed northeast to Prince Albert for a game on the 4th.  Penalties did the Hurricanes in with a 5-3 loss to the Raiders. One of those Raider powerplay goals was from future NHL star Mike Modano.

The Hurricanes were handed a couple of days off before hosting their home-opener at the Sportsplex.

As the Herald's Randy Jensen reported, several dignitaries were on-hand and they even brought in a marching band as the Hurricanes and Tigers renewed acquaintances on October 7th.  Nearly 2,600 people showed up to cheer on their boys. But it didn't result in a win, as the Canes fell 3-2 to the Tigers. Ens and Marty Prazma tallied in the losing cause.

Fans would have to wait until October 9th before posting their first win in franchise history, a 3-2 victory against Theoren Fleury and the Warriors in Moose Jaw. A late-second period goal from Prazma would prove to be the first game-winner in the team's young life.

The Hurricanes finally got their first home win of the season a few days later.

On October 14th, they got into another barnburner with the Swift Current Broncos, winning 9-6. Rob Krauss and Jason Ruff had two goals each while Mark Greig, Bryan Bosch and Prazma added singles.

The Windy City squad would go on to a 20-48-4 record for the season, finishing out of the playoff picture. A learning experience for many as they began building the blocks towards the playoffs and an eventual visit to the WHL championship two years later.

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