Monday, 7 May 2018

#OTD - Chiefs Finish Sweep of Hurricanes

One team's jubilation is always another team's heartbreak.

As the Lethbridge Hurricanes have to not only swallow the bitter pill of losing their conference final to Swift Current, they also have to watch on in agony as the Broncos battle Everett for the WHL championship and the right to play in the Memorial Cup.

That bitter pill also played out exactly ten years ago today.

On the strength of one-goal, one-assist efforts from current Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson and current Belfast Giants forward David Rutherford, the Spokane Chiefs completed the four-game sweep of the Hurricanes with a 4-1 win at the Enmax Centre. Johnson was named the series MVP. The Chiefs also got a 17-save performance from Lehigh Valley Phantoms netminder and former World Junior netminder Dustin Tokarski.

As Trevor Kenney wrote in the Lethbridge Herald the next day: "Too proficient in every facet of the game, the Chiefs were a runaway train of simple efficiency." The article went on to say "Bottom line, they were just too good and the Hurricanes, try and try as they might, simply had no answers."

Lethbridge hockey fans will also remember who the Chiefs were coached by: newly-minted Calgary Flames bench boss Bill Peters, formerly of the University of Lethbridge.

"We played hard, we played smart," Peters told the Herald after the win. "A lot of unsung heroes on this team. It's a deep hockey team and that's why we have success."

As for the Hurricanes that season, they were led offensively by Mitch Fadden, Zach Boychuk, Dwight King and Colton Sceviour while Juha Metsola emerged as the starter in that playoff run. Nick Hotson, who was picked up from Portland earlier on in the season, had the lone 'Canes marker in that final game.

That run had a lot of people around the club excited about the future. Even in the sombre Hurricanes' dressing room after the game, head coach Michael Dyck was looking ahead.

"Sometimes you've got to fail before you succeed," Dyck told the Herald.

As Kenney put it, the playoff run "re-energized a fan base, excited a city and stamped the franchise as a contender."

And while this year's edition of the Hurricanes is a much-different beast than the one of 2007-2008, some comparisons can certainly be made. Particularly when you look at how some fans wrote this team off after the blockbuster pre-deadline deal with Swift Current.

READ MORE: The Ever-Lasting Impact of Giorgio and Stuart

Yes, this team has some question marks heading into next season, like who will get the call in net with Logan Flodell gone. But they're not entering the off-season with a bunch of soon-to-be 20-year-old's vying for spots and they have a young nucleus of players with names like Cozens, Barlage, and Addison ready to take the next step, all with that bitter taste in their mouths from this last playoff run.

The nice thing is: just as Kenney wrapped up his own article: "this time, next year doesn't seem so far away."

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