Lethbridge Hurricanes (20-36-5-3) vs. Saskatoon Blades (19-42-2-2)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes picked up their 20th victory of the season on Friday night as they earned the season series sweep against the Saskatoon Blades with a 2-1 victory at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
It was the second of a three game East Division road swing for the Hurricanes after they kicked it off with a 7-3 loss on Wednesday night to the Brandon Wheat Kings. The win for the Hurricanes improves their record to 1-1-0-0 in March and 8-5-2-0 in their last 15 games.
The game didn’t start well for the Hurricanes as a sluggish start saw them let Saskatoon dictate early in the game. The Blades had a number of good scoring chances in the first few minutes of the game but Stuart Skinner was sharp keeping them at bay. Saskatoon out shot Lethbridge 9-1 in the first 12 minutes and capitalized on a power play as Wyatt Sloboshan stepped into a loose puck burying it by Skinner to make it 1-0 at the 12:01 mark of the first. The Hurricanes came on after the goal for Saskatoon and had their chances to equalize, but Brock Hamm was solid in the Blades goal. Shots finished 9-8 in favour of Saskatoon after one period.
Saskatoon came out flying early in the second period, much like the first. The Blades piled up ten shots in the first six minutes of the period but once against could not beat Skinner. Midway through the period, Florian Baltram was penalized for a tripping minor, but on the penalty kill Tyler Wong scored his team-leading 25th goal of the season picking up his first shorthanded goal of the year – Ryan Vandervlis set Wong up on a shorthanded two-on-one for his first WHL assist, Kord Pankewicz picked up the other helper. The Blades out shot the Hurricanes 22-11 in the second.
In the third, both teams had their chances in what was a pretty even period. The Hurricanes finally had a power play chance, but failed on their only opportunity of the game. Midway through the period, a broken play saw a puck come to Carter Folk who just snapped one on net and it beat Hamm high to the glove side to give the ‘Canes a 2-1 lead – for Folk, it was his 11th of the season, four of them coming in Saskatoon after a hattrick in October – Nick Walters and Brayden Burke picked up the the helpers. Saskatoon came on in hopes of tying the game, their best chance in the last minute with a puck that rocketed off the end boards back in front but Skinner lunged out to stop it with the glove to preserve the win.
Shots were tied 11-11 in the final period, Saskatoon out shot the Hurricanes 42-30 overall. Lethbridge went 0/1 on the power play in the game, while the Blades went 1/3.
Three stars of the game were:
1) ‘Canes – #74 Stuart Skinner – (41 saves)
2) Blades – #19 Ryan Graham
3) Blades – #30 Brock Hamm – (28 saves)
The Hurricanes wrap up the three game East swing on Saturday night when they visit the Prince Albert Raiders for the final time this season at 6pm MT.