Lethbridge Hurricanes (43-20-1-1) vs. Saskatoon Blades (24-36-4-0)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes continued their four game road trip and were full value in a 10-3 victory over the Saskatoon Blades on Friday night at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
Giorgio Estephan made his return to the Hurricanes line-up after missing over a month and he didn’t miss a beat scoring a pair of goals in his first game back. Egor Babenko had a career night leading the way with five points as he netted his first WHL hat-trick along with two assists while Brayden Burke had a pair of assists to reach the 100-point plateau – the first Hurricane to reach the century mark since Jeremy Jackson had 102 points in 2002-2003.
It didn’t take long for Estephan to make his impact as he opened the scoring just 41 seconds into the game as he snapped home his 28th of the season – Tyler Wong and Brayden Burke picked up the assists – the helper for Burke was his 100th point of the season. Just four minutes later, Estephan redirected an Andrew Nielsen point shot on the power play for his 29th of the season to make it 2-0 ‘Canes. Saskatoon cut into the lead as Wyatt Sloboshan potted his 16th goal of the season to cut the lead to 2-1 after twenty minutes of play. Saskatoon outshot the Hurricanes 15-7 in the opening period.
The Hurricanes lit the lamp early in the second period as Brady Reagan scored for the third time in five games just 19 seconds into the stanza for his sixth of the season – Ryley Lindgren and Babenko picked up the helpers. Ryan Vandervlis netter his seventh at the eight minute mark as Lindgren sprung him on a breakaway and Vandervlis made no mistake making it 4-1. At the 12:16 mark Babenko capitalized on a Colton Waltz turnover to make it 5-1; that was also the end of the night of Blades starting goalie Brock Hamm who allowed five goals on 15 shots. The Blades stopped the onslaught as Connor Gay scored his first of two goals in the game as the 16:03 mark to make it 5-2 game, but Jordy Bellerive jammed home a power play goal to make it 6-2 ‘Canes after two periods.
In the third, the ‘Canes added four more goals. Just 1:21 into the period Babenko swatted home his second of the game making it 7-2. Once again Gay scored, this time on the power play, to cut back into the lead, but the ‘Canes kept pressing. Babenko completed the hat-trick on a beautiful three-way passing play as Arvin Atwal and Bellerive picked up the helpers at the 10:50 mark. Just 2:02 later, Brett Davis got in on the action as he tipped home his fifth of the season before Carter Folk netted his 10th with 1:33 left in the game as the ‘Canes went on to the lopsided victory.
The Hurricanes were outshot on the night 41-30. The ‘Canes were 2/3 on the power play while Saskatoon was 1/4.
Three stars of the game were:
1) ‘Canes – #22 Egor Babenko – (3 goals, 2 assists)
2) ‘Canes – #9 Giorgio Estephan – (2 goals)
3) ‘Canes – #15 Jordy Bellerive – (1 goal, 1 assist, 1 fight)
The win for the Hurricanes was their 43rd of the season improving their record to 43-20-1-1 on the campaign. The ‘Canes are now up to 88 points on the season and remain in a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Hurricanes are back in action Saturday night when they complete the Saskatchewan portion of their road trip when they visit the Prince Albert Raiders.