Airdrie WHL defender shows improvement in Lethbridge
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 11:43 am
With one season under his belt in the Western Hockey League, Airdrie’s Lenny Hackman said he felt a lot more at ease during his second season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes compared to the 2013-14 campaign.
“I think it’s a really good thing to have that experience under my belt,” Hackman said. “When you’re a first-year rookie, you are learning a lot of things from all of the experienced guys in the dressing room, but when you are a second-year player, you end up becoming one of the guys that teaches the newcomers.”
“It’s a little bit like becoming a role model for those younger players, so having that year of experience helps out a lot,” he added.
The 19-year-old defenceman was able to play in all 72 games for the Hurricanes this year, and had his best point totals to date as he scored two goals and dished out eight assists.
As a result of his play, the former member of the Airdrie Xtreme received the Hurricanes’ top defencemen award during the team’s annual award ceremony on March 16, prior to its regular season finale against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
“I thought I developed really well both on and off of ice, and to receive that award was something that I can take away from the year as a huge positive,” Hackman said. “However, I can’t be satisfied with just that, and I just have to keep on getting better as a player.”
“I think Lenny’s defensive game was a lot better this year, and he became one of our most consistent defencemen,” Hurricanes Head Coach Drake Berehowsky added. “He worked hard and competed hard every day that we were on the ice, and I think you could see that with the improved play in his all-around game.”
While Hackman was pleased with his own play, the 2013/14 WHL season was a tough one for the Hurricanes, as it finished with the worse record in the 22 team league with a 12-55-2-3 mark.
“We were a younger team this year, especially after we traded many of our veterans away and it showed on the ice,” Hackman said. “We were less mature and less experienced compared to those other teams that we were up against.”
“However, with the experience that we all gained over this last year, I think it will be helpful towards moving this team in the right direction as we go forward,” he added.
The main goal for the Hurricanes franchise for next year is to make it back to the playoffs, which is something it hasn’t done since 2009.
While that may seem like a tough task given its recent struggles, Berehowsky believes that having players like Hackman returning to the squad next season will help lead to a quick turnaround.
“Whenever you have experienced guys like Lenny coming back, that always helps your team out,” Berehowsky said.
“We want him and our other returning players to keep improving for us, as we want to try and continue to build the new culture that we have set in place here.”