Lethbridge Hurricanes (1-3-0-0) vs. Calgary Hitmen (1-2-0-1)
After a disappointing effort on Sunday in Calgary at Scotiabank Saddledome that saw the Lethbridge Hurricanes fall to the Hitmen by a 9-2 score, the ‘Canes had an opportunity for redemption and redeem themselves they did as the Lethbridge club came from behind to win their first game of the season 4-3 in a shootout.
It’s the first win of the year for the ‘Canes, but it is also the first victory for Lethbridge dating back to February 12th, a 3-2 shootout win over the Brandon Wheat Kings – a span of 18 regular season games.
The top line of Riley Sheen, Zane Jones and Jamal Watson combined for five points in regulation, and all three scored in the shootout to propel the ‘Canes to the win. While Stuart Skinner earned his first WHL victory with a 50-save performance.
Brett Kitt, Ryley Lindgren and Kord Pankewicz all made their Hurricanes debut in the contest after being acquired yesterday from the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Reid Duke-Macoy Erkamps trade. The three former Wheaties left Brandon at 6am in the morning Wednesday and arrived in Lethbridge just after 5pm – just in time for the game. Kitt was a physical force on the forecheck; Lindgren was very strong on the faceoffs; while Pankewicz seemed to be a good puck mover and excellent skater.
For the second straight game, the Hitmen scored first. Pavel Karnauhkov scored his third of the season on a power play at the 7:02 mark to make it 1-0 Calgary – Connor Rankin and Terrell Draude picked up the assists. Calgary added to their lead when a puck redirected off of Karnaukhov’s scored past Skinner to give the Hitmen a 2-0 advantage after twenty minutes – the ‘Canes were out shot 19-8 in the opening period.
The Hurricanes looked like a completely different team in the second period creating chances and controlling the play, however, a broken play wound up in another Calgary goal as a puck deflected off a leg right in front of the net to a wide open Adam Tambellini who made no mistake making it a 3-0 Calgary lead. Just over three minutes later, Zane Jones kick-started a massive come back as he scored on a breakaway at the 14:47 mark – Sheen and newly acquired Kord Pankewicz picked up the helpers as the Hurricanes trailed 3-1 at the second intermission. Shots were 15-apiece in the middle frame.
In the third, it was the top line that continued to play their best game of the season. Just 3:22 into the third, Jamal Watson sprung Riley Sheen on a partial breakaway and the overager made no mistake putting one by Evan Johnson to make it a one goal game. The Captain Jamal Watson equalized the game on a shorthanded breakaway to make it 3-3 with under seven minutes to play; Watson made a beautiful forehand, backhand move before roofing the puck past Johnson for the game tying goal. Neither team would decide it in regulation, and so the game went to overtime. However, no-one would score in the OT period despite some good looks for both teams.
In the shootout, Jones scored first to give the ‘Canes the advantage. However, Radel Fazleev scored to equalize. Watson scored before Tambellini lost control of the puck leaving the stage set for Riley Sheen who moved in, faked a slapshot before sliding the puck between Johnson’s legs for the winning goal.
The Hurricanes were out shot 53-38 in the game. Lethbridge went 0/3 with the power play, while Calgary went 1/4.
Three stars in the game were:
1) ‘Canes – #19 Riley Sheen – (1G/1A) plus the shootout winner
2) ‘Canes – #26 Zane Jones – (1G) and a shootout goal
3) ‘Canes – #74 Stuart Skinner – (50 saves) first WHL win
The Hurricanes don’t have much time to celebrate as they are back at it Friday night as the Kamloops Blazers roll into town for a 7pm puck drop.