The Lethbridge Hurricanes celebrated one of its most successful teams in franchise history. Last week the team celebrated the 1996/97 squad on being the only team to win the Western Hockey League (WHL) championship.
It had been 20 years since the squad has gathered to celebrate their historical run all the way to the Memorial Cup final. It was a way for old teammates to relive some of their favourite memories and reconnect.
“To think that 20 years had gone by it was really kind of an eye opening experience and a shock to the system. So to see guys and talk and make connections again, it brings back a lot of memories,” said alumni defensemen Bryce Salvador.
The team also brought in some additions late in the season to help them get to the Memorial Cup tournament. One of those additions said the transition was easy due to how inviting the community was.
“Everybody involved including they knew the team wanted to make a run for it. Obviously it felt good that they wanted us to be a part of it, thought we could make a difference. So coming in we were welcomed with open arms,” said former Hurricanes defensemen Chris Phillips.
Both Salvador and Phillips went on to have lengthy National Hockey League careers and they cherish the time back in Lethbridge. It wasn’t only the organization that helped the players succeed, the community of Lethbridge was a big piece to their development as well.
“When I came back last year when they retired my number, they were so welcoming and embracing. It was a touching moment for me and I feel like I’m at home every time I come back,” said Salvador.
The Hurricanes team this year looks to be the second team to win the WHL, but only the first to bring home the Memorial Cup. The team will wrap up their regular season at the end of March and they currently sit in sixth overall in the WHL standings.