WHL in 30 Preview: Red Deer at Lethbridge
Red Deer Rebels (24-30-10-3) at Lethbridge Hurricanes (32-28-6-0)
Saturday, March 10 –Shaw TV 12 p.m. (Mountain)
With the race for the Western Hockey League’s Central Division heating up, a potential first round matchup in the 2018 WHL playoffs will feature on WHL in 30 this Saturday when the Red Deer Rebels head south for their fifth of six meetings in the regular season series.
It’s been quite the second half for both clubs who have found success in their own forms. The Hurricanes made a massive trade with the Swift Current Broncos just before the WHL’s Trade Deadline that may have indicated their intentions to build towards future years with younger players. Instead, they’ve gone 15-9-3-0 since that trade and moved up to challenge the Medicine Hat Tigers for first place in the division.
In their own right, the Rebels have literally played their way into the WHL playoff picture. Going 13-5-2-1 since January 23, the Rebels have leapfrogged the Kootenay ICE for third place in the Central. With both wild card spots occupied by East Division clubs, the pressure is intensifying on both the ICE and Rebels to claim that final playoff spot in their division.
The Hurricanes had enjoyed good fortune against the Rebels. In addition to winning all four matchups this season, the Hurricanes went 5-0-1-0 in last year’s season series. The Rebels’ last regulation win came almost two years ago on March 12, 2016.
The Pittsburgh Penguins made a shrewd move last fall to sign Hurricanes forward Jordy Bellerive and that move has appeared to pay off for them as the 1999-born forward has recorded 90 points (44G-46A) in 66 games, coming close to surpassing his offensive output from the previous two seasons combined.
Brad Morrison has been a welcomed addition to the Hurricanes’ lineup. One of the team’s trade acquisitions in January, Morrison has recorded 35 points (14G-21A) in 26 games with Lethbridge since coming over, second on the team behind only Bellerive.
It’s never too early to start thinking about the 2019 NHL Draft and the Hurricanes have plenty of talent available. Dylan Cozens and Logan Barlage will no doubt enter the conversations towards next year’s draft in Vancouver, B.C. This summer, they’ll get to watch teammate Calen Addison go through that process as he enters the 2018 NHL Draft.
Fellow 2018 NHL Draft prospect Kristian Reichel will also appear in Saturday’s edition of WHL in 30, but on the other side as a member of the visiting Rebels. Entering the game, Reichel sits one goal shy of 30 for the season. While reaching the 30-goal plateau is often a common feat for WHL players, doing it in their first season of play in the league is a rarer feat.
The Rebels’ leading scorer, overage forward Mason McCarty, enters the game one point shy of 150 for his WHL career. He also has points in eight of his last 11 games entering the contest.
Buffalo Sabres draft pick Brandon Hagel has 12 multi-point games this year and has been a threat to score against all defences this season. The Morinville, Alta. will enter the game with 167 points (57G-110A) in 189 career WHL games.
Be sure to watch and see who can gain the upper-hand in the Central Division battle on this week’s episode of WHL in 30!
December 6 Red Deer 0 Lethbridge 4
January 9 Red Deer 4 Lethbridge 5 (SO)
January 12 Lethbridge 6 Red Deer 4
January 28 Lethbridge 2 Red Deer 1 (OT)
March 9 Red Deer at Lethbridge
March 14 Lethbridge at Red Deer
*WHL in 30 broadcast
***PLEASE NOTE: WHL in 30 is a condensed format, 30-minute broadcast of the WHL Game of the Week, airing the day after the game is originally played.