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Hurricanes Sign Top 5 Picks Pilon & Duke

Lethbridge, AB – Lethbridge Hurricanes General Manager and Head Coach Rich Preston and Hurricanes Assistant GM Brad Robson were proud to announce this afternoon the signing of 2011 Top 5 WHL Bantam Prospects Ryan Pilon (PEEL-on) and Reid Duke to WHL Player Agreements. Both players will take to the ice for their first taste of WHL Preseason action this weekend with Pilon making his debut in the Canes match up Thursday night in Taber against the Calgary Hitmen and Duke making his debut Friday night in the Canes match up against the Red Deer Rebels in Innisfail.

Pilon, a 6’1” 193 pound defenseman from Duck Lake, SK is a highly touted prospect – ranked by many as the most talented d-man in the draft. Last season, Pilon notched 45 points (27G,18A) in 20 games with the Warman Wildcats of the Centre Four Hockey League. Duke is a 5’10, 177 pound forward who tallied 64 points (28G, 36A) and 79 PIMs in 30 games with the Calgary Royals (AMBHL) this past season.

“Both these young men are elite talents and after seeing them perform at training camp and throughout last season we are incredibly proud to add them to our program.” said Robson “To have the opportunity to draft and sign two players of this caliber and on the back of what we see as a very talented 95-born group led by the likes of Top 5 pick Jay Merkley – we believe we have the makings of something very special here in Lethbridge.”

Both Pilon and Duke have already made Hurricanes history as the first pair of Top 5 selections the Canes have ever drafted in the same year. The Hurricanes history of top five selections is a short one made up of only last year’s top pick Jay Merkley (3rd overall – 2010); Dwight King (4th overall – 2004) and Paul Elliot (4th overall – 1995). Pilon joins Merkley as the Hurricanes highest ever selections in the WHL Bantam Draft. Merkley, a 95-born forward and native of Calgary has remained with the team entering the preseason and is also expected to take to the ice for tonight’s match up.

The action all kicks off tonight (Thursday) from Taber, Alberta in support of Taber Minor Hockey. Tickets for this game are priced at just $10 with shared proceeds from the sales going to support Taber minor hockey. Each ticket also includes a youth voucher for a future Lethbridge Hurricanes regular season game. For tickets to the Hurricanes match up against the Calgary Hitmen in Taber, AB (from the Taber Arena – 4716 50 St.) on September 8th @ 7PM contact Diane Sparks at 403-223-2479

A reminder the second Hurricanes Home Preseason date is a September 14th game against the Medicine Hat Tigers at Nicholas Sheran Arena in West Lethbridge in support of Lethbridge Minor Hockey. Tickets for this game are also priced at just $10 with shared proceeds from the sales going to support Lethbridge minor hockey – Each ticket also includes a youth voucher for a future Lethbridge Hurricanes regular season game. For tickets to the Hurricanes match up against the Medicine Hat Tigers in West Lethbridge (from the Nicholas Sheran Arena – 401 Laval Blvd W) on September 14th @ 7PM contact Keith Hitchcock at 403-330-7253

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