The Lethbridge Hurricanes played host to the Calgary Hitmen in Coaldale Friday night in exhibition action in front of a packed crowd that saw a hard battled game go in favour of the visitors by a 5-3 score.
The Hitmen controlled the early tempo of the game outshooting the Hurricanes 12-5 in the opening twenty minutes and skating to a 1-0 lead after one period. The lone goal in the period came while Lethbridge was on a power play, but it was overager Connor Rankin breaking in on a two-on-one and putting a laser of a snap shot high over the blocker of ‘Canes keeper Zac Robidoux who got the start. It was the third shorthanded goal the Hurricanes have surrendered already in the pre-season through three contests; they’ve given up one in each of their games while only scoring two power play goals of their own.
Calgary controlled the play in the second period, at least in the shot department. The Hitmen capitalized early in the period building their lead to 2-0 as Chase Lang banged one past Robidoux on the short side just 57 seconds into the frame. Lethbridge would cut into the Calgary lead when Jaeger White squeezed one through the pads of Mack Shields just under three minutes later to make it 2-1 – Pavel Skumatov and Nikita Milekhin picked up the helpers. However, the Hitmen would get to Robidoux again when Jordan Stallard quickly restored their two goal lead making it 3-1 at the 5:36 mark of the second. Hurricanes would score twice within 50 seconds to tie the game; first Zach Goberis scored his first of the pre-season finding a rebound at the side of the net at the 10:51 mark, then Ryan Vandervlis bulged the twine for the first time to see the game notched at three’s through forty minutes of play. Calgary outshot Lethbridge 15-5 in the second.
But, in the third period the Hitmen would score the only two goals. First, at 6:58 into the third, Pavel Karnaukhov would beat Stuart Skinner, who replaced Robidoux half way through the second, for the eventual game winning goal. Calgary would ice it making it 5-3 less than two minutes later when Lochlan Morrison pinched in on a two-on-one beating Skinner to the low blocker to make it the 5-3 win.
Calgary out shot Lethbridge 37-20 in the game.
The loss for the Hurricanes drops them to 1-2 on the pre-season game, however, they were without many regulars in Friday’s game as Riley Sheen, Jamal Watson, Reid Duke, Tyler Wong, Giorgio Estephan , Nick Walters and Steven Alldridge all were out of the line up, as well as Andrew Nielsen and Jonny Hogue.
Despite the loss and lopsided shot margin, a few players stood out to me. Taylor Cooper who appeared in his first pre-season contest was outstanding chipping in with an assist and many good scoring chances. Every time he was on the ice, he was a threat and was skating very well. The other player that stood out to me was Zach Goberis and while he scored a goal he seemed to be in the right places on the ice and had a few good looks.
The Hurricanes will continue their pre-season with a mid-week contest at the Enmax Centre when the welcome their rival Medicine Hat Tigers on Wednesday night at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased at the arena and if you can’t make it to the game, it will be broadcast on ROCK 106 with the pre-game show beginning 15 minutes prior to puck drop.