Lethbridge Hurricanes (20-39-5-3) vs. Edmonton Oil Kings (33-29-4-3)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes returned home to the ENMAX Centre on Friday night to host the Edmonton Oil Kings after logging more than 6,600 kilometres playing nine games in nine cities. Edmonton, who picked up a 3-2 overtime win in Lethbridge back on February 26th in the Hurricanes last home game, picked up a 5-2 win on Friday.
The Hurricanes received a boost on the back-end as Andrew Nielsen returned after missing time with an upper body injury. Nielsen is ranked 69th among North American skaters, and seventh among WHL rearguards, made an immediate impact playing on the power play and penalty kill logging 7:19 in his first period back.
The ‘Canes started well in front of their home crowd pushing the pace and getting a few good chances. Lethbridge had a pair of early power play opportunities, but on the second one it was a shorthanded goal by Mads Eller that opened the scoring at the 9:57 mark. Later in the period, Jamal Watson got the shorty back busting in on a shorthanded breakaway before making a move to his back-hand to tie the game at 1-1 at the 14:04 mark – the goal for the Captain was his 24th of the season and fifth shorthanded. Edmonton out shot Lethbridge 13-8 in the opening period.
Edmonton controlled what was a sloppy second period from both sides. Early in the period, the Oil Kings jumped out to a 2-1 lead. Mads Eller rang one off the crossbar before slipping one back to the blueline where Jake Kohlhauser blasted one by Stuart Skinner to make it 2-1 on his first WHL goal just 2:59 into the second. There was a lot of neutral zone play in the middle part of the period and then the ‘Canes got in penalty trouble in the second half and while Brayden Burke was serving a tripping call Edgars Kulda tipped home a Dysin Mayo point shot by Skinner to make it 3-1 after two periods. Oil Kings had the edge in shots 9-6 in the middle frame.
In the third period, the Hurricanes played maybe their best period of the game. However, at the 10:02 mark, with Carter Folk in the penalty box, the Oil Kings scored their second power play goal of the night making it 4-1. Just 1:15 later, Tyler Wong, who had a bundle of chances in the first forty minutes, finally got rewarded tipping home an Andrew Nielsen point shot to make it 4-2 – Giorgio Estephan earned the second assist. Quickly thereafter, at the 12:42 mark, Edmonton restored their three-goal lead as Davis Koch beat Skinner on the back hand to make it 5-2. The ‘Canes had an opportunity to get close as the Oil Kings took two penalties in quick succession giving Lethbridge a five-on-three. ‘Canes pulled Skinner with more than six minutes left to try and get something going but the best penalty kill in the league kept them at bay pacing the Oil Kings to the victory.
Hurricanes and Oil Kings each had 12 shots in the third period, Edmonton held the edge 34-26 overall in the game. ‘Canes went 0/5 on the power play, while the OK’s went 2/5.
Three stars of the game were:
1) Oil Kings – #20 Mads Eller – (1 goal, 2 assists)
2) ‘Canes – #5 Tyler Wong – (1 goal)
3) Oil Kings – #29 Jake Kohlhauser – (1 goal)
The Hurricanes have now lost three straight games and look to get back in the win column on Saturday night when they host the Calgary Hitmen on Fan Appreciation Night at the ENMAX Centre.