The Lethbridge Hurricanes wrapped up their three game BC Division road trip against the second best team in the entire Canadian Hockey League – the Kelowna Rockets. The Rockets entered action the only undefeated team in the Western Hockey League at 7-0-0-0. Despite the Hurricanes jumping out to a 2-0 lead, they were unable to hold onto it falling 4-2.
The Hurricanes played a very good road game on Friday night in Kamloops, but failed to close falling 3-1. It was much the same on Saturday night at Prospera Place, but the Hurricanes played a far more consistent effort from start to finish.
The Rockets and Hurricanes skated to a scoreless tie after the first period of play. The ‘Canes were out shot by the Rockets 12-10 in what was an exciting first period with lots of chances at both ends – however, both Zac Robidoux for Lethbridge and Jackson Whistle for Kelowna made multiple great saves keeping the game scoreless.
The Hurricanes started the second period with a bang as Taylor Cooper scored his first of the season – and 50th career WHL point. The 19-year-old from behind the net tried to centre and the puck banked off a sliding Rocket defenseman and into the net for a 1-0 lead just 17 seconds into the period. Lethbridge would tally again just 23 seconds later as Riley Sheen tracked down a loose puck in the corner and centered to Zane Jones who tipped one by Whistle for a 2-0 lead. Kelowna and Lethbridge continued to go back and forth, and the Rockets would cut the lead in half as Tyson Baillie scored to make it 2-1 on a wrap around beating Robidoux who was slow to get across at the 14:02 mark to see a one-goal Lethbridge lead after two periods of play. Kelowna once again out shot Lethbridge 11-8 in the second. It was the first time all season the ‘Canes held a lead after forty minutes.
The third period was a great period of hockey and the Rockets showed why they are an early season favourite to win the WHL title as they pressed looking for the game tying goal and they’d eventually get it. At the 16:23 mark, Tyrell Goulbourne slid one back to the blue line and Madison Bowey (the reigning Denny’s WHL and CHL Player of the Week) blasted a one timer past Robidoux from the blue line to tie the game 2-2. It didn’t take the Rockets long to jump out to their first lead of the game when Austin Glover slid one in front to Justin Kirkland who tipped one by Robidoux just 14 seconds after the Bowey goal to give Kelowna a 3-2 lead. The Hurricanes had their chances to tie the game at three, but Whistle game up large and Baillie would add an empty-netter to give the Rockets a 4-2 victory.
The Hurricanes played arguably their best game of the season against the toughest opponent. They were out shot 35-27 (the least amount of shots surrendered this season for the ‘Canes).
Hurricanes and Rockets both went 0/4 on the power play.
Three stars in the building were:
1) Rockets – #1 Jackson Whistle – (25 saves)
2) Rockets – #24 Tyson Baillie – (2 goals)
3) Rockets – #23 Justin Kirkland – (scored GWG)
The Hurricanes return home for a two game home stand this coming weekend when they host the Victoria Royals at the ENMAX Centre on Friday night before the Regina Pats come to town for the first time this year on Saturday. Lethbridge will then play four straight road games in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, and Regina the following week.