When goaltender Liam Hughes left the Lethbridge Hurricanes in January 2019, the team was left scrambling to fill the void. Unable to go down the trade trail after the deadline, rookie netminder Carl Tetachuk was thrust into the starting role. The Hurricanes also had to dip into their prospect pool using a callup on goaltender Bryan Thomson. They made the playoffs that season, giving the team hope for the future.
Tetachuk and Thomson have formed a reliable tandem. Tetachuk, in the starting role, gave the team top netminding while Thomson was a steady backup. But are those roles about to change? Their solid on-ice relationship is unmistakable as they push each other to get better, but heading into the 2020-21 season, will there be a new number one?
The local product is set to enter his third season with the Hurricanes. Seemingly unfazed by any situation, his demeanor is calm and collective in the crease. His business-like approach seems to be working. Tetachuk was among the league-leaders in many goalie stats amongst starters last season, and he posted a 2.82 goals-against average (GAA) and .903 save percentage (SV%). He also led the team in wins with 21 and three shutouts.
Tetachuk was on track to once again lead the Hurricanes into the postseason before the season was canceled. It would have been his second consecutive playoffs. In last seasons postseason, the team disappointingly lost in seven games in the opening round and were looking to better that performance.
The Manitoba native has been touted the next big goalie star in the organization drawing comparisons to former Hurricane and current Edmonton – what team? prospect, Stuart Skinner. Thomson, who is eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft is ranked 11th amongst North American goalies. His consistent play wasn’t lost on head coach Brent Kisio who didn’t hesitate to look the youngsters’ way. Posting 16 wins, that included his first and only WHL shutout, with a 2.83 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage while forming a pretty good one-two combo in the Hurricanes crease.
Who’s Number One?
The duo teamed up to helped the Hurricanes to a third-place finish in their division before the season was canceled. So, now heading towards the new season, how do these two stack up now?.
Tetachuk will enter this season has the defacto starter, but by no means is his role safe. It’s not that Tetachuk has preformed badly that the job may be in jeopardy but the development of his crease mate that may push him out. Growth in hockey is rarely a straight projection upwards. Players develop at different speeds and we may be looking at that here. Towards the latter half of the season, we started to see the game of Thomson mature and the result was more key starts down the stretch while the Hurricanes battled for playoff positioning.
Thomson it is safe to stay is poised to get more starts has his game matures at the WHL level. His development will also be a bigger focus if his name is called during the NHL entry draft.
There is no doubt that getting drafted by an NHL club changes things a bit at the WHL level. NHL teams like to have a little control over how their prospects are used. With that being said Thomson whether he is drafted or not will still have to earn those starts. The history of Coach Kisio in the Hurricanes organization has been to rely on his veteran goalie but also to be fair to the younger netminder if he earns more starts.
During the 2019-20 season when asked Coach Kisio was quick to give praise to his guys stating “Both guys have given us a chance to win”
The Hurricanes are in good hands either way they play it this coming season. Strong goaltending can and will help cover up some other weaker areas on this ice and during this rebuild or retooling season, they will need to get the most from their netminders. The opportunity is there, now is the time to seize it.
John is a passionate hockey fan who has been covering the WHL as a sportswriter for multiple seasons, formally with DUBNetwork. Been a season ticket holder in the WHL since 2013 with the Hurricanes. His deep knowledge and understanding of junior hockey that allows him to bring out the best coverage that includes feature articles, game stories, and news.