Lethbridge Hurricanes (40-17-1-0) vs. Calgary Hitmen (33-21-1-2)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes kicked off a mini two game home stand on Wednesday against a Calgary Hitmen team they beat 4-2 just three days prior, but it was the Hitmen that got revenge earning a 6-2 win at the ENMAX Centre.
A span of 3:46 in the first period that saw the Hitmen score four goals helped them to the victory. Despite the loss the Hurricanes clinched a playoff berth for the first time in six years with the Swift Current Broncos loss to the Saskatoon Blades.
The ‘Canes opened the scoring in the first period as Tyler Wong snapped home his team-leading 33rd goal of the season at the 9:10 mark on a power play to make it 1-0 ‘Canes – assists went to Andrew Nielsen and Brayden Burke. The Hitmen tied the game with a power play goal of their own at the 12:15 mark as Jake Bean tied things up. Calgary added three more in the next 3:46 as Beck Malenstyn, Pavel Karnaukhov and Matteo Gennaro all lit the lamp vaulting Calgary into a 4-1 lead. Jayden Sittler was pulled after giving up four goals on ten shots as he was replaced by Stuart Skinner. The ‘Canes were outshot 13-4 in the first period.
After killing off a penalty early in the second period, the ‘Canes picked up their game in the middle frame. Once again on a power play, the ‘Canes struck cutting the Calgary lead to 4-2 as Ryley Lindgren tipped home an Andrew Nielsen point shot for his 23rd goal of the year and 12th on the power play – Burke drew the second assist. The Hurricanes had a few more chances but Nik Amundrud stood tall making a few key stops in the second half of the period as the Hitmen led 4-2 after forty minutes.
Early in the third period, Calgary built on their lead with another power play goal as Travis Sanheim snapped home his ninth of the season just 1:53 into the final twenty minutes to put Calgary up 5-2. Once again the ‘Canes had some chances but were outshot 12-4 in the final twenty minutes. The ‘Canes had a power play with just over five minutes left in the game and pulled the goalie but a shorthanded-empty net goal by Carsen Twarynski made it a 6-2 final.
Final shots favoured the Hitmen 35-17 on the night. Hurricanes went 2/5 on the power play while Calgary was 1/4 in the game.
Three stars of the game were:
1) Hitmen – #32 Travis Sanheim – (1 goal, 1 assist)
2) ‘Canes – #6 Andrew Nielsen – (2 assist)
3) Hitmen – #19 Radel Fazleev – (3 assists)
The loss for the Hurricanes is just their fourth on home ice as their home record slips to 25-4-0-0 on the season. The ‘Canes fall to 40-17-1-0 on the season, but remain first spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.
The Hurricanes are back in action on Friday night when they welcome the Portland Winterhawks at the ENMAX Centre before traveling to Calgary to face the Hitmen on Saturday night.