Lethbridge Hurricanes (9-23-3-3) vs. Red Deer Rebels (21-14-3-2)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes played their first home game of the New Year Saturday night at the ENMAX Centre when they played host to the Red Deer Rebels. The Hurricanes saw a 2-0 lead evaporate as Red Deer came back to win 3-2 in a shootout.
The Hurricanes were once again without centerman Tyler Wong and Giorgio Estephan who were both out of the line up for the second consecutive night. Ryley Lindgren made his return to the Hurricanes line up after missing 21 games with a lower body injury suffered on Halloween against his former team, the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The Rebels came out flying in the first minute and a half of the game as they took control from the opening faceoff but could not beat Stuart Skinner early on. On their first shot of the game, the Hurricanes opened the scoring as Mile Warkentine beat Taz Burman just 2:04 into the game to make it 1-0 – Brayden Burke made a beautiful centering pass to Warkentine for his second assist of his career while Devan Fafard picked up an assist, his first point as a ‘Cane as the two former Rebels combine to open the scoring. Lethbridge added to their lead just over six minutes later as Taylor Cooper showed persistence chopping away at a loose puck before it finally crossed the line at the 6:43. The goal for Cooper not only ties his career high of goals of 12 set last year, it also saw him extend his point scoring streak to seven games. Jamal Watson and Jaeger White also saw their point streaks extended to seven with assists on the Cooper goal. Hurricanes held the edge in shots 15-14 in the first period.
Both teams had their chances in the second period, but both Skinner and Burman were terrific in goal. Burman made countless huge stops on the Hurricanes robbing Sayers and Lindgren on scoring opportunities to keep it 2-0. Late in the period, newly acquired defenseman Nelson Nogier blasted one from the right point that found its way by Skinner to cut the lead in half making it 2-1 ‘Canes – Jeff de Wit and Conner Bleackley picked up the assists. Red Deer out shot Lethbridge 14-13 in the second.
In the third, the Hurricanes played nearly a picture perfect shut down, “steer it home,” period keeping the Rebels at bay. Red Deer continued to press in the third period creating many scoring opportunities but failed to beat Skinner. However, with under two minutes left in the third, the Rebels won a neutral zone faceoff and Wyatt Johnson let a shot go from the right boards the Skinner stopped but the rebound went straight to Preston Kopeck who buried it by the Hurricanes goalie to tie the game up a 2-2.
The game would go to overtime, but neither team would solve in the extra frame. The ‘Canes out shot the Rebels 2-1 in overtime and the best chance was from Lindgren who made a power move to the front of the net but Burman stopped him as the game would go to a shootout.
In the shootout, Brooks Maxwell and Lindgren would score in the round of three, so it went to a sudden death shootout. In the sixth round, after Zane Jones was robbed by Burman, Jones’ former teammate with the Victoria Royals, Brett Cote ended the game on a shot high to the blocker of Skinner securing the victory for the Rebels and the 350th career win behind the Rebels bench for Brent Sutter.
Three stars of the game were:
1) ‘Canes – #74 Stuart Skinner – (36 saves)
2) Rebels – #30 Taz Burman – (31 saves)
3) ‘Canes – #11 Taylor Cooper – (1 goal)
The Hurricanes have now lost four straight games, but assistant coach Bryan Maxwell said after the game that they were very happy with their effort and thought it was their best effort since coming back from the Christmas break. The Hurricanes will play game two of a season long four game home stand this coming Friday when they welcome the Saskatoon Blades.