A hot start for four former Broncos on the Lethbridge Hurricanes was made even sweeter by a win last week over their former club.
Since coming over via trade in before the January 10 WHL Trade Deadline, Matt Stanley, Owen Blocker, Logan Flodell, and Logan Barlage have had a hand in racking up an 8-2-3-0 record. That includes a 5-2 win last Friday at home against Swift Current.
Playing in ten of the 13 games, Flodell has been an admirable replacement for former goalie Stuart Skinner who was a prized asset in the blockbuster trade for the Broncos.
Flodell's numbers in southern Alberta are similar to those of his stint in southwest Saskatchewan:
SC - 35 Games - 3.07 goals-against-average, 0.913 save percentage, 24-8-3-0 record
Leth - 10 Games - 3.05 goals-against-average, 0.903 save percentage, 7-2-1-0 record
The stats, as well as veteran leadership displayed by the overage netminder have left his new head coach pleased.
"From what we've seen when he got here, he's been really excited, he's been a great leader in the room, and he's been absolutely awesome for us in net. Considering all those things, he's been great," said Hurricanes' bench boss Brent Kisio.
The former Bronco witnessing perhaps the biggest jump in production since the trade has been rookie forward Logan Barlage, whose role has increased, as has his output:
SC - 38 GP: 7 points (1 G, 6 A), 0.18 points-per-game, -11 rating
Leth - 13 GP: 5 points (2 G, 3 A), 0.38 points-per-game, +9 rating
"Well he plays a lot for us - he gets powerplay, penalty-kill, he gets all those opportunities which shows what we think about him as a 16-year-old - that doesn't happen all the time," Kisio explained. "He's a young kid, there's a lot of upside to his game. He's got to keep working at it, but we all believe he has a real bright future here, and moving forward."
It's been an impressive performance for the former fourth-overall Bantam Draft pick by the Broncos, as changing scenery during a first full WHL season can be a tough adjustment. However, having Stanley, Blocker, and Flodell in the locker room was more than welcome.
"It was nice knowing that they were here with me - just a couple more guys, friendly faces in the dressing room to talk to the first couple days. [It helped to] just get settled in a little bit better," Barlage said, while adding he's taken to the organization quite well.
"It's been really awesome here, I've been liking it a lot, and I've been liking the team lots. The guys are really awesome, and same with the coaching staff. It's been a really good experience for me to come here."
Looking back on his brief time in Swift Current, Barlage says he's grateful for the guidance and getting his WHL career started in the right direction.
"I was really thankful for everything with Swift Current and everything they did for me. Getting the experience to be there, being on a winning team, and a winning culture - it was really fun for me. I really love the guys there, the coaching staff, and it was all really good. I can't thank them enough," he said.
Meanwhile, fellow forward Owen Blocker's role has understandably seen an increase since joining the Hurricanes, after being behind some high-end forward logging big chunks of ice-time in Swift Current.
The 17-year-old forward's game has been described as steady so far.
"He can do a lot things - he's good on faceoffs, he's good on penalty-kill, he's been a good fit for us," said Kisio, his head coach. "He's a real solid guy that, as he gets older, he's going to develop his game more and more hopefully and move up in the lineup and be a key contributor."
SC - 27 GP: 1 G, 0.04 points-per-game, -3 rating
Leth - 13 GP: 3 points (1 G, 2 A), 0.23 points-per-game, -5 rating
Blocker shared a big reason for being able to jump out to that solid start as a team, despite a chunk of notable names no longer donning the red and navy Hurricanes' colours.
"As soon as we got here the room changed a little bit," he said. "Obviously they lost some of their top guys, so they were missing a little there, and I think teams just started underestimating us and we took advantage of that."
Although, after being selected in the second round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft by the Broncos, Blocker says he enjoyed his time in Swift.
"I think it was great for my development. It helped me know what I need to do, taught me a lot - how to be a good hockey player, how to work hard, and what I've got to do to play," he said.
Lastly, but certainly not least, especially according to his head coach, is soon-to-be 20-year-old (February 9) defenceman Matt Stanley.
"He's kind of sometimes forgotten a bit - he's been outstanding for us, he's just real steady. The main thing is he competes hard," Kisio said.
Despite lackluster numbers, the defenceman's impact has been felt shoring up the Hurrican's blueline game.
SC - 40 GP: 4 A, 0.10 points-per-game, -6 rating.
Leth - 13 GP: 1 A, 0.08 points-per-game, 0 rating.
"He moves the puck and keeps it real simple which, on our back end, was something that we really needed to add. Of all the guys, he's been one of the real key contributors to helping us win, steadying our D up, and showing our D how to play the game right."
The former Broncos and their Lethbridge squad next play this Friday in Moose Jaw against the Warriors - a team Broncos fans would love to see those familiar faces beat.