Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Lessons On Not Pushing The Panic Button Too Early

While a few questions have surrounded the present-day Lethbridge Hurricanes after a slower-than-expected 5-5 start to the season, they only need to look back ten years to find some inspiration of what better things could look like.

The 2007-2008 version of the Hurricanes started the season 4-7-1.

It wasn't like the club wasn't getting chances. In the last game before a seven-game roadtrip in mid-October, the 'Canes outplayed the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers by a wide margin, yet still lost 3-2.

"It's getting pretty frustrating, to be honest, but we're doing some good things out there," defenseman Jesse Craige told the Lethbridge Herald after the loss. "We're coming out, we're getting the puck on net, we're limiting their chances so we've just got to stick to our game-plan and eventually it will come."

So they headed out on a seven-game roadtrip and the game-plan didn't start well, with losses in Medicine Hat, Swift Current and Brandon.

But something happened on the way to Brandon for the midway point of the trip.

Whether that something was said in the bus, or something just started clicking on the ice, the Lethbridge Hurricanes started winning. It started with a win in Brandon. Dwight King, Mike Wuchterl, Daniel Iwanski and Carter Bancks tallied in a 4-3 victory.

But then, they kept winning, with stops in Moose Jaw, Calgary and Red Deer.

They came back home and the swagger continued with another 'W' over the Rebels.

"Somewhere between Brandon and Lethbridge, the Hurricanes discovered how to win hockey games on imperfect evenings," proclaimed Trevor Kenney in the Oct. 29, 2007 edition of the Herald.

"We're definitely working a lot harder and our one-on-one battles, our compete level is up since that road trip," then-captain Ben Wright said after the win. "We're getting the bounces, when were on that losing streak, everything just seemed to go against us and now we're getting all the bounces and everything's going for us and we're taking advantage."

They lost in a shootout to Edmonton, then rattled off eight more wins. They'd lose two more, then win five more to put together a record of 22-9-2 by December 8.

As history shows, the Hurricanes would go onto the second-best record in the Central Division that year and would get through Brandon, Kootenay and Calgary to move on to the WHL championship, losing to the Spokane Chiefs.

Looking back, that first win to kick-start a slow start to the campaign was ten years ago this past Thursday, in the middle of a seven-game roadtrip. Interestingly, the Hurricanes are now on a seven-game homestand, which started with a win against Medicine Hat.

I'm not saying that history will repeat itself. But for all the talk about not hitting any panic buttons, the present-day squad and fans might be able to learn something from the '07-'08 team.

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