Lethbridge Hurricanes (45-21-1-1) vs. Red Deer Rebels (42-23-1-2)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes kicked off a three-game weekend and the first of a home-and-home with the Red Deer Rebels in convincing fashion as they knocked off the Rebels 6-1 in front of a near capacity crowd of 5,192 at the ENMAX Centre on Friday night.
Kord Pankewicz led the way with a goal and three assists as he reached the 100-point plateau in his career. Tyler Wong, Arvin Atwal, Jordy Bellerive, Brady Reagan and Ben Duperreault all had multiple point games while Stuart Skinner made 33 saves for his 26th win of the season.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring 6:29 into the game with Conner Bleackley in the penalty box; Cory Millette tipped home an Atwal point shot just 12 seconds after Bleackley was issued the penalty, Pankewicz drew the second assist that made it 1-0. Duperreault netted his second of the season on a beautiful shot to the top shelf at the 10:58 mark to make it 2-0 – Bellerive and Reagan picked up the helpers. Tyler Wong potted his 39th of the season less than three minutes later to make it 3-0. Luke Philp cut the lead to one with his 20th of the season at the 15:34 mark but that was all the Rebels would get. Pankewicz snapped home his fifth of the season with 2:39 left in the first period to make it 4-1 Hurricanes at the first intermission. The ‘Canes held the edge in shots 16-14 in the period.
The ‘Canes added to their lead in the middle frame making it 5-1 as Atwal snapped home his tenth of the season at the 5:21 mark after receiving a drop pass from Barrett Sheen – Duperreault picked up the other assist. On a Reagan rebound, Wong banged home his second of the game and his team-leading 40th goal of the season becoming the first Hurricane since Jonathan Filewich scored 42 in 2004-2005. The Hurricanes were outshot 10-8 in the middle frame but led the game 6-1 after forty minutes of play.
The Hurricanes outshot the Rebels 11-10 in the third period and were able to steer home the victory. The ‘Canes had their chances, as did the Rebels, but both goaltenders made some nice saves in the final period of play.
The Hurricanes outshot the Rebels 35-34 on the night. ‘Canes went 2/3 on the power play and were 5/5 on the penalty kill.
Three stars of the game were:
1) ‘Canes – #5 Tyler Wong – (2 goals)
2) ‘Canes – #20 Kord Pankewicz – (1 goal, 2 assists)
3) ‘Canes – #29 Ben Duperreault – (1 goal, 1 assist, game winner)
The win for the Hurricanes was their fifth this year against the Rebels; ‘Canes have won seven straight against Red Deer dating back to last year. Hurricanes improve to 45-21-1-1 on the season and are now five points clear of the Rebels for first overall in the Central Division.
The Hurricanes and Rebels do things over tomorrow night in Red Deer at the ENMAX Centrium. A win for the Hurricanes and they will clinch the Central Division title for the first time since 1996-1997.