Canes play the wait­ing game

Lethbridge Herald - - HERALD SPORTS - Dale Woodard LETHBRIDGE HER­ALD

For the sec­ond straight season, the Lethbridge Hur­ri­canes have guar­an­teed they’ll be play­ing into at least late April. The Hur­ri­canes sent the Bran­don Wheat Kings pack­ing in five games in the WHL East­ern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nal thanks to a 3-0 win Fri­day night at the En­max Cen­tre to ad­vance to the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal.

Though it’s yet to be de­ter­mined who the Hur­ri­canes will face for the East brag­ging rights, there’s no doubt it’ll be a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent.

Lethbridge awaits the win­ner of the Swift Current Bron­cos and Moose Jaw War­riors se­ries as those two titans bat­tle in Game 7 tonight in Moose Jaw af­ter the War­riors stayed alive in the se­ries thanks to a 3-2 triple over­time win Satur­day night in Swift Current.

How­ever, a po­ten­tial matchup with the Bron­cos would no doubt have lo­cal fans and me­dia alike drum­ming their fin­gers in an­tic­i­pa­tion.

Af­ter all, it’s been a lit­tle over three months since the Hur­ri­canes and Bron­cos set the league on its ear with a block­buster trade dead­line deal that saw the Hur­ri­canes send cap­tain Gior­gio Estephan, goal­tender Stuart Skin­ner and for­ward Tan­ner Nagel to Swift Current in ex­change for for­wards Lo­gan Bar­lage and Owen Blocker, goal­tender Lo­gan Flodell and de­fence­man Matthew Stan­ley.

“If you were to ask us af­ter that trade dead­line if we’d be go­ing back (to the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal) I think a lot of peo­ple would have laughed at us,” said Hur­ri­canes cap­tain Jordy Bel­lerive. “But it was kind of in­ter­est­ing the day we got to­gether as a new team. We kind of knew we had some­thing spe­cial with the char­ac­ter and how close we’ve bonded so fast. It’s un­be­lie­ve­able, we’re re­ally ex­cited about it.”

Still, the Hur­ri­canes lost eight of their last eight games to limp to a 33-33-6-0 reg­u­lar season fin­ish.

But since then they’ve gone 8-2, dis­patched the Red Deer Rebels and Wheat Kings in five games each to get back where they were at this time last year.

“We had a meet­ing be­fore the play­offs and went around the room, just talk­ing about the im­por­tance of ev­ery guy’s role and what they can do to help us in a play­off game be­cause that’s what we had last year,” said Bel­lerive. “Mov­ing on this year, it’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent squad, but the same men­tal­ity. Ev­ery­body feels im­por­tant and knows their role. It doesn’t mat­ter who scores a goal or who makes a big hit, ev­ery­one is ex­cited. It’s a great team men­tal­ity.”

Flodell said he wasn’t sure what to ex­pect when the 20year-old goal­tender landed in Lethbridge at the dead­line.

“I was new to these guys, but the way we’ve worked so hard and gelled to­gether is just in­cred­i­ble.”

Tonight, the Canes and their fans alike turn their at­ten­tion down the road to Moose Jaw to see who they’ll face in the fi­nal four.

Bel­lerive was non-com­mi­tal about his ideal op­po­nent in round three.

“I don’t think that matters,” he said. “What­ever team comes to the plate, we’ll show up.”

Flodell, how­ever, played it coy.

“We all know who we want to play,” he said. “But at the end of the day who­ever we end up play­ing is who we have to get ready for.”

Fol­low @DWoodard­Her­ald on Twit­ter

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