Lethbridge Hurricanes (40-20-1-1) vs. Brandon Wheat Kings (39-18-3-2)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes welcomed the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday night in hopes of snapping a four game losing streak but it was not to be as the ‘Canes let a third period lead slip away eventually falling 5-2 to the Wheaties.
The ‘Canes held a 2-1 lead heading into the third period, but four unanswered goals in the final twenty minutes by the Wheat Kings lifted them to the victory. Egor Babenko broke out of a big slump scoring a goal and adding an assist in the losing cause. Hurricanes overage forward Cory Millette skated in his 300th WHL game, earning an assist on the night.
The Hurricanes were excellent in the opening forty minutes of the hockey game despite surrendering the first goal 8:32 into the first period as Kale Clague blasted home his sixth of the season giving Brandon a 1-0 lead. Just over four minutes later Brayden Burke tied the game with his 22nd of the season as the puck pinballed off a Brandon defender and passed Jordan Papirny to make it 1-1 – Babenko and Tyler Wong picked up the assists on the goal. Before the period was out, the ‘Canes took their first lead of the game as Babenko buried one by Papirny with 1:36 left in the period as the ‘Canes led 2-1 after twenty minutes of play. Shots were tied 8-8 in the first period.
Neither team found the net in the second period despite some terrific opportunities. The Hurricanes had three chances on the power play, including a four minute double-minor, but couldn’t generate any offence or momentum on the man advantage. The Hurricanes did outshoot the Wheat Kings 10-8 in the middle frame and continued to lead 2-1 after forty minutes.
After the Wheat Kings killed off the rest of a Tim McGauley penalty from late in the second period, the overage forward jumped out of the box and moved in before placing a bullet passed Jayden Sittler inside the post to tie the game 2-2 just 45 seconds into the period. Just 1:28 later, a two-on-one was capped off with Nolan Patrick scoring for the 12th straight game to give Brandon a 3-2 lead. John Quenneville made it 4-2 as he beat Sittler from well out with a low shot along the ice just over three minutes later as the game spiralled out of control for the ‘Canes. Sittler was replaced by Stuart Skinner who stopped all five shots he faced in relief. The ‘Canes pulled the goaltender for the extra attacker but could not find any sustained pressure as the Wheat Kings added an empty net goal with 16 seconds left making it a 5-2 final.
The Hurricanes were outshot 10-6 in the final twenty minutes and 26-24 on the night. Hurricanes were 0/7 on the power play while Brandon was 0/3 on the man advantage.
Three stars of the game were:
1) Wheat Kings – #10 Kale Clague – (1 goal)
2) ‘Canes – #22 Egor Babenko – (1 goal, 1 assist)
3) Wheat Kings – #17 John Quenneville – (1 goal)
The loss for the Hurricanes was their fifth straight and the have now dropped four straight home games. The Hurricanes fall to 40-20-1-1 on the season and surrender first place overall in the Eastern Conference standings to Brandon who leapfrogs them in points.
The Hurricanes are right back it on Saturday night when they welcome the Edmonton Oil Kings at 7:00pm. The first 750 fans through the doors at the ENMAX Centre will receive limited edition 2015-2016 Lethbridge Hurricane hockey cards.