Lethbridge Hurricanes (45-22-1-1) vs. Red Deer Rebels (43-23-1-2)
The Lethbridge Hurricanes had the Central Division within grasp, but were on the wrong end of a 6-1 drubbing Saturday night in Red Deer to the Rebels at the ENMAX Centrium.
It was a complete reversal of Friday night when the Hurricanes earned a 6-1 win over the Rebels on home ice. The ‘Canes were unable to capitalize on five first period power plays and gave up five goals in the middle frame as the Rebels were fired up looking for redemption.
The Rebels came out flying trying to get amends for what happened in Lethbridge on Friday. Red Deer was physical in the early going not giving the Hurricanes and breathing room. Ivan Nikolishin took an early high-sticking minor resulting in the first power play of the game for the ‘Canes to try and open the scoring but could take advantage. Moments after killing off the penalty, Nikolishin picked up a helper as he fed a puck back to Colton Bobyk who let fly with a slap shot that found its way by a screened Jayden Sittler to make it 1-0 just 6:31 into the hockey game. The ‘Canes had four more power play opportunities in the period but failed to make good or show urgency on the man advantage as they trailed 1-0 after the first period despite outshooting the Rebels 11-8 in the first period.
Red Deer blew it open in the second period. Jake DeBrusk banked one in from behind the net just one minute into the period to make it 2-0. Just 1:02 later, Kayle Doetzel slammed home his first in over 15 months to quickly make it 3-0 Rebs. With Brayden Burke serving a goaltender interference penalty, Adam Helewka cashed in with his 39th goal of the season making it 4-0. Sittler was pulled after giving up four goals on 17 shots and was replaced by Stuart Skinner who allowed a goal on the first shot he saw as Haydn Fleury beat him from well out making it 5-0. Brandon Hagel, on another power play, made it 6-0 as he jumped on a DeBrusk rebound just 10:41 into the middle period. The lone bright spot for the Hurricanes came in the former of a Tyler Wong goal at the 11:03 mark as he snapped home is team-leading 41st goal of the season as he extended his personal point scoring streak to 12 games. Hurricanes were outshot 14-10 in the second period.
In the third, Sittler returned to close out the game and stopped all six shots he saw in the period as the ‘Canes were outshot 6-5 in the final twenty minutes. The third period was relatively anti-climactic except for a big fight between Andrew Nielsen and Conner Bleackley with six minutes left in the game.
Hurricanes were outshot 29-26 in the game. The ‘Canes went 0/7 on the power play while Red Deer was 2/3 on the man advantage.
Three stars of the game were:
1) Rebels – #4 Haydn Fleury – (1 goal, 1 assist)
2) Rebels – #8 Kayle Doetzel – (1 goal, 1 assist)
3) Rebels – #9 Conner Bleackley – (3 assists)
The Hurricanes fall to 45-22-1-1 on the season and see the Rebels close the ‘Canes lead atop the Central Division standings to just three points with three games remaining for both teams. The Hurricanes seven game winning streak against Red Deer was also ended with the loss.
The Hurricanes return to action on Sunday evening at 6:00pm when they welcome the Edmonton Oil Kings at the ENMAX Centre on Unused Season Ticket Exchange night. Tickets are going quickly with already over 4,100 sold on Saturday afternoon.