Winds of change in Lethbridge

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

Austin Fyten is a man of his word.

The big power forward suffered through a frustrating season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2009-10.

This year, he vowed, would be different.

"We struggled quite a bit last year," Fyten said. "We only had 20 wins, so something had to change.

"This year's going to be different. We only have winning habits in our room.

"We're expecting everyone to work hard every night and we're expecting big things."

Just hours after insisting the Hurricanes will turn things around, Fyten went out and delivered on his promise, scoring a hat-trick and setting up the winning goal in a 5-3 victory over the host Calgary Hitmen.

The Sundre, Alta., product added another goal the next night as the 'Canes dumped the Tigers in Medicine Hat.

Back-to-back impressive road wins over Central Division foes to the start the season?

Sounds like the Hurricanes, who were 10-24-2 away from home last season, have turned a corner.

"We had a lot of new faces.," Fyten said. "This year, we have a lot more experience.

"And now it's up to those guys to carry more responsibility on their shoulders -- and that includes myself."

Fyten said he's looking forward to being one of the club's leaders.

"This is going to be a big year for a few of us -- (Mitch) Maxwell, (Cam) Braes, me -- (the team) is going to expect some numbers from us.

"I'll get a lot more icetime, and there'll be more pressure. But pressure and responsibility can be good.

"I'm excited about it."

'Canes head coach Rich Preston said the experience gained by some his players last season is about to pay dividends.

"In junior, when you go year to year, you expect your 20-goal scorers to be 30-goal scorers, and 30-goal scorers to become 40-goal scorers," Preston said. "We have that depth up front.

"And I'm really happy with the leadership group with our 19-and 20-year-olds."

Hurricanes defenceman Daniel Johnston said he already notices a difference from last year's squad, which was kept out of the Eastern Conference basement by the stumbling Edmonton Oil Kings.

"We're a lot more competitive team, that's for sure," said Johnston, who played his minor hockey at the Edge school.

"Before the games, in the room, you can tell there's a whole new intensity.

"Most teams didn't have much respect for us last year. But that's definitely going to change this year."

It already has.

RAIDERS DUMP UNHAPPY ROOKIE

The Prince Albert Raiders have cut ties with forward Marc Mackenzie.

The rookie left the team after being scratched for the home opener.

Raiders GM/head coach Bruno Campese dealt the disgruntled 16-year-old to the Chilliwack Bruins for a 12thround bantam pick.

Campese said he never made any guarantees to the player about ice-time.

"There was never any promises made to Marc, or his dad, concerning that he would never be scratched (from the lineup)," Campese told the Prince Albert Daily Herald. "It's just not something that you do, for obvious reasons."

NEW POLICEMAN

Vancouver Giants snipers Brendan Gallagher and Craig Cunningham have a new bodyguard.

The G-Men acquired enforcer Randy McNaught from the Saskatoon Blades for a fifth-round bantam pick. McNaught had a league-high 20 scraps last season.

scott.fisher@sunmedia.ca


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