Lethbridge Hurricanes (12-30-3-3) vs. Kelowna Rockets (38-8-3-2)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes played the first of a back-to-back games at home this weekend as they hosted the second best team in the Canadian Hockey League the Kelowna Rockets at the ENMAX Centre Friday night. Leon Draisaitl scored twice in a 6-3 win for the Rockets.
Jamal Watson and Carter Folk both returned to the line up Friday for the Hurricanes. Watson had missed six games with an upper-body injury while Folk was sidelined for the last three with an injury.
Draisaitl didnt’t take long to make his presence known as the Edmonton Oilers’ third overall pick from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft opened the scoring just 1:32 into the game swatting a puck passed ‘Canes goalie Stuart Skinner to make it 1-0. Draisaitl added his second of the night at the 10:59 mark as a puck bounced right to him in the slot. Kelowna added two more 23 seconds apart to hold a 4-0 lead after twenty minutes of play as Madison Bowey scored at the 14:04 mark before Gage Quinney scored his first of two in the game at 14:27. Rockets held the edge in shots 14-11 in the first period.
Despite being down 4-0 after the first period, the Hurricanes had multiple quality scoring chances in the first period, including a Mike Winther breakaway, but Michael Herringer stood tall in the Rockets crease. Skinner was relieved after the first period after giving up four goals on 14 shots. Jayden Sittler played the final forty minutes and stopped 35 of 37 shots he faced, a save percentage of .945.
Kelowna struck again early in the second period making it a 5-0 lead as Quinney tapped home a gimme on a beautiful set-up by Josh Morrissey 8:46 into the middle frame. Watson, as he usually does, showed his speed on a breakaway before Cole Martin took him out resulting in a penalty shot. Watson, who is 4/5 in the shootout, failed to score on the second penalty shot of the season for him. At the 11:39 mark, with a power play Tyler Wong spotted Andrew Nielsen moving in on the left point and the 18-year-old defenseman snapped one over the glove of Herringer making it 5-1. Shots favoured 19-7 in the second.
The Hurricanes won the third period outscoring the Rockets 2-1. Justin Kirkland scored his 18th of the season to make it 6-1 at the 8:57 mark. Giorgio Estephan continued his hot hand extending point streak to five games as he tied his career high with his 12th goal of the season – Jaeger White picked up the lone assist. Just 2:23 after Estephan scored, Watson scored his 17th of the season just throwing one to the net that beat Herringer up high making it a 6-3 final.
Shots favoured the Rockets 18-7 in the third period and 51-25 in the game.
Three stars of the game were:
1) Rockets – #29 Leon Draisaitl – (2 goals, 1 assist)
2) Rockets – #23 Justin Kirkland – (1 goal, 2 assists)
3) Rockets – #20 Gage Quinney – (2 goals, including GWG)
The win for the Rockets sweeps the season series against the Hurricanes as they went 3-0, while the ‘Canes went 0-2-0-1 as one of the wins (December 10th) was in a shootout. The Hurricanes are back in action on Saturday night when they welcome the Regina Pats to the ENMAX Centre for the final time this season.