Lethbridge Hurricanes (31-12-0-0) vs. Swift Current Broncos (12-26-4-1)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes headed to Swift Current on Wednesday night with designs of leapfrogging the idle Kelowna Rockets for first overall in the Western Hockey League and the Hurricanes accomplished their goal as they picked up a 5-2 win over the Broncos at Credit Union I-Plex.
The Hurricanes attacked again scored five goals in a game, the 22nd time this season the ‘Canes have scored five or more goals in a game, as five different goal scorers lit the lamp. Jayden Sittler made his third straight start and made 21 saves for his 15th win of the season while newcomer Colton Kroeker made his Hurricanes debut.
The Hurricanes played a strong first period as Ryan Vandervlis opened the scoring at the 10:31 mark. Sixteen-year-old Jordy Bellerive centered from behind the net and Vandervlis show some quick hands to roof the puck over Broncos starter Taz Burman to make it 1-0 ‘Canes – second assist went to Andrew Nielsen. Just under seven minutes later however, Swift Current equalized as Tyler Steenbergen jumped on a rebound and had one trickle through Sittler into the net as the game was tied 1-1 after twenty minutes of play. The ‘Canes outshot the Broncos 14-8 in the opening period.
The ‘Canes quickly jumped out to their second lead of the night just 35 seconds into the middle frame as Kord Pankewicz walked in down the middle before off-loading to Brayden Burke who had a wide open net and made no mistake for his 14th goal of the season and third in two games to give the ‘Canes a 2-1 lead. Under five minutes later, the ‘Canes made it 3-1 as Arvin Atwal let fly with a wrist shot while on a power play and Cory Millette snapped a ten game goalless drought with his 16th of the season on the redirect. Hurricanes held the shot advantage 13-5 in the second period and lead 3-1 after two.
In the third, the ‘Canes continued to build on their lead as the top line of Brayden Burke, Tyler Wong and Giorgio Estephan combined for a pretty passing play as they were reunited. Estephan finished off the tic-tac-toe play for his 23rd of the season, matching his career high from a year ago, as the ‘Canes were up 4-1. Midway through the third however, the Broncos made it close again as Steenbergen jumped on another rebound and lifted it passed a sprawled Sittler for a power play goal to cut the lead to 4-2. However, with a power play late in the game – on the Hurricanes third too many men call of the third period – Swift Current would pull the goalie in hopes of mounting a comeback but Justin Gutierrez iced it with an empty net goal with just 54 seconds left for his 22nd of the year to make it a 5-2 final – assists went to Atwal and Sittler.
The Hurricanes outshot the Broncos 19-9 in the final twenty minutes and 46-23 on the night. The ‘Canes went 1/3 on the power play while Swift Current was 1/4 with the extra man.
Three stars of the game were:
1) ‘Canes – #19 Brayden Burke – (1 goal, 1 assist)
2) Broncos – #17 Tyler Steenbergen – (2 goals)
3) ‘Canes – #15 Jordy Bellerive – (1 assist)
The victory for the Hurricanes was their fifth consecutive win and improved their record to 31-12-0-0 on the season. The ‘Canes sit atop the WHL standings with 62 points, one better than the Western Conference leading Rockets, Kelowna has one game in hand on the ‘Canes.
The Hurricanes are now two points up on the Red Deer Rebels for first place in the Eastern Conference and the ‘Canes have one game in hand. ‘Canes are back in action on Friday night as they play the first of a two-game set at the ENMAX Centre when they welcome the Kamloops Blazers on “Ugly Blazer Night” on Friday before welcoming the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night.
Tickets are available by calling (403) 329-SEAT.