A tad over 200 kilometers separate Calgary and Lethbridge, and the rivalry between the Central Division competitors run deep.
20-year-old defenceman Spencer Humphries saw it first hand the moment he joined the Hitmen three seasons ago in a trade from Tri-City.
“It’s always been a rivalry there, ever since I got here,” Humphries opined. “Both teams have hated each other.”
Forward Brady Brassart added, “There is a lot of emotion going into those games. I think everyone is kind of like ‘We don’t like them, they don’t like us.’”
So expect another heated game on Friday when the Hitmen travel down for a matchup with the Hurricanes, especially when points are hard to come by with around 20 games left in the season.
“This is a game you want to play hard for, play your best,” Humphries added. “At the end of the day, if both teams play their best, it’ll be an awesome game.”
Calgary holds the advantage over the Hurricanes so far this season having won three out of four contests including both games in Lethbridge.
Last time around, the rivalry reached a boiling point when six fighting majors were called in the remaining few minutes of a 4-1 Hitmen victory.
“I’m expecting it to be a good battle,” Humphries said.
“Lethbridge is one of teams that is the hardest to beat. They are very well rounded, they have some offensive D, the forwards are really skilled and have some big guys up front.”
It’ll be the first game in five days for the Hitmen, who last saw action against the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday, which resulted in Calgary being shutout 4-0.
“I expect them to respond well,” said head coach Mike Williamson. “Most of the year… when we have had a poor performance or dropped a big game, our guys have generally been pretty good the next time out. We weren’t good enough in Medicine Hat and we will have a tough game against Lethbridge.”
While the Hitmen (31-12-1-3) continue battle with the Edmonton Oil Kings for top spot in the Eastern Conference, Lethbridge (22-21-1-6) is currently in sixth spot, six points up on ninth place Kootenay.
Friday night will be the Hurricanes first game on home ice in two weeks, having played two road contests in Alberta before venturing on a three-game in three-night swing through the United States last weekend. They picked up three points in the trip.
The Hitmen will be back in the friendly confines of the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday, with a 4 p.m. matchup against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Cardel Homes Minor Hockey Night.