Lethbridge Hurricanes (10-8-2-2) at Moose Jaw Warriors (10-5-3-1)
Saturday, November 24 – Mosaic Place 2:30 p.m. (Central)
Channels: Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW, WHL Live
For two teams sitting at an even 24 points in the standings, Sportsnet’s Saturday Showcase represents an opportunity for the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Moose Jaw Warriors.
With the season having just passed its one-quarter mark, both teams are still looking to gain ground in their respective division, proving they belong among the best in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference.
While the dynamic and balance of power has shifted in the conference this year, the Warriors and Hurricanes still find themselves in the thick of the race with both sides in fourth place in their respective division entering Friday’s play.
Both teams were coming off victories last week when they faced each other for the first of four times last Saturday in southern Alberta. The Warriors pulled off a 3-2 win, with that win coming in large part due to the performance of two of their 20-year-olds.
Forward Tristin Langan scored twice in the victory, opening the scoring in the first and then striking for the game-winning goal. Langan was eventually named the WHL On the Run Player of the Week last Monday, a small dose of recognition for a strong 19 games that has seen him record 33 points (15G-18A), leading the Warriors in scoring and placing him in a tie for ninth in league scoring. Langan is on pace to shatter his career-best performance of 42 points (16G-26A) in 70 games last season and the Warriors couldn’t be happier.
Between the pipes, Brodan Salmond is enjoying a renaissance season of sorts. After posting solid numbers in 30 games with the Kelowna Rockets between 2016 and 2017, an injury limited the Calgary, Alta. product to just 26 games in the 2017-18 WHL Regular Season. With an ill-timed injury ending Brody Willms’ WHL career before the start of the season, Salmond has stepped in and stepped up, posting a 7-2-2-1 record, 2.47 goals-against-average, 0.90 save percentage, and one shutout through his first 12 games.
Together, they’re just two parts in what is still a very potent Warriors team. Despite losing two of the top four scorers in the WHL from last season, their captain Brett Howden, and a solid part of their defence, the Warriors are still a very competitive club. Were it not for a third-period collapse on September 29, the Warriors might have been able to brag about knocking off the Canadian Hockey League’s top-ranked Prince Albert Raiders earlier this season.
As for the Hurricanes, the team came into the season with championship expectations, which are still very real to the club. However, their 10-8-2-2 record has them fourth in their division as well, so there’s still work to be done. Part of their positioning can be credited to the rise of the Red Deer Rebels and Edmonton Oil Kings.
Their record may not look ideal when compared to the others, but even with 22 points through 21 games, they’re on pace to match their point total from last season, which earned them second place in the Central Division.
Make no mistake though, the Hurricanes are still a talented team with plenty of offensive options to move them up the standings.
Like Langan with the Warriors, the Hurricanes are benefiting from a breakout start by forward Taylor Ross, whose 24 points (12G-12A) have him tied for the team lead in points, while leading them in goals. The Kronau, Sask. product has found a perfect fit with the Hurricanes since a trade from the Spokane Chiefs brought him to southern Alberta last November. In 71 WHL regular season games with the Hurricanes, Ross has 62 points (31G-31A), compared with the 28 points (12G-16A) in the other 116.
Wednesday’s 3-1 win over the Saskatoon Blades saw the Hurricanes find their way into the win column at the expense of Ross’ 10-game point streak, but the 20-year-old is raising his game at the right time.
Tied with him for the scoring lead is captain and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Jordy Bellerive, who is also tied with Dylan Cozens, one of six ‘A’ rated prospects by NHL Central Scouting ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft. The team’s top defensive contributor, Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Calen Addison, is close behind with 20 points himself.
Cozens scored a hat trick early in the season against the Regina Pats, but that remains his only multi-goal game of the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season. The same goes for Bellerive, whose lone multi-goal game came back in mid-October against the Kootenay ICE.
Of course, multi-goal games aren’t the only measure of effectiveness. Bellerive is still producing at 1.09 points-per-game while Cozens’ similar total would allow him to improve on the 53-point campaign last season that earned him the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s top rookie. It was also just a few short weeks ago that Cozens and Bellerive provided all the offence necessary on a Sportsnet broadcast as Team WHL won the opening game of the 2018 CIBC Canada Russia Series in Kamloops, B.C. For two players who thrive in the spotlight, Saturday’s broadcast could bring out the best in them and the Hurricanes.
Tune into Sportsnet to catch all the Saturday Showcase action live tomorrow from Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan!
Stats to watch:
-The Moose Jaw Warriors have won seven of the past nine meetings against the Hurricanes
-Tristin Langan is the highest returning scorer from last year’s season series with five points (2G-3A)
-Brodan Salmond is 2-1-0-1 vs. the Central Division at home this season
-The Warriors have won four straight games against the Hurricanes at Mosaic Place. The Hurricanes last win in Moose Jaw came on March 2, 2016 in a 5-1 win. Jordy Bellerive had a pair of assists in that game.
-Jordy Bellerive is seven goals away from 100 for his WHL career
-Defenceman Calen Addison is six assists shy of 100 for his WHL career
-2019 NHL Draft prospecpt Dylan Cozens has found his way onto the scoresheet in all three career games against the Warriors, recording three points (2G-1A) in three games.
Head coach: Brent Kisio
Leading scorers: LW Taylor Ross (12-12-24); C Jordy Bellerive (9-15-24); C Dylan Cozens (9-15-24)
Leading goaltender: Reece Klassen (18 GP, 8-4-2-2, 3.70 GAA, 0.886 SV%)
Power play: 12th — 24.0 per cent
Penalty kill: 10th – 78.3 per cent
Injuries/Unavailable: RW Keltie Jeri-Leon, RW, upper body, day-to-day
Moose Jaw Warriors
Head coach: Tim Hunter
Leading scorers: LW Tristin Langan (15-18-33); D Josh Brook (6-17-23); C Justin Almeida (3-20-23)
Leading goaltender: Brodan Salmond (12 GP, 7-2-2-1, 2.47 GAA, 0.909 SV%, 1 SO)
Power play: 3rd – 25.8 per cent
Penalty kill: 20th – 71.2 per cent
Injuries/Unavailable: C Justin Almeida (upper-body, day-to-day)
Nov. 17 – Moose Jaw 3 at Lethbridge 2
Nov. 24 – Lethbridge at Moose Jaw*
Feb. 8 – Moose Jaw at Lethbridge
March 1 — Lethbridge at Moose Jaw
*Indicates Sportsnet #SaturdayShowcase broadcast