GDB 17.0 WRAP UP: FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT
Well, that game was a wild ride to say the least. For much of the contest it looked like the Hurricanes were going to come out on the short end of this one, but things changed greatly midway through the 3rd period. For much of the first 45-50 minutes the Hurricanes did not appear to be the same club that played against the Seattle Thunderbirds the night before. Lethbridge had a hard time getting pucks deep and setting up the cycle. The physicality they displayed on Friday night was largely absent as well, but around the 7 minute mark of the 3rd period something seemed to click for the Canes. Lethbridge started to heavily tilt the ice (no pun intended) to their favour and rode it all the way to a W on late goal from Ryley Lindgren.
There’s no point in mincing words on this one. The Hurricanes had an ugly start to this game. They weren’t skating very well and had a difficult time gaining possession of the puck. Lethbridge was probably lucky to end the first deadlocked at zeroes, as there were more than a few sloppy exit passes that led to quality scoring chances for the Ice. When the Hurricanes did manage to cross the offensive blue line in the first they struggled to create pressure, and what shots they did get on net resulted in easy saves for the Ice goaltender Hobbs. The Sasquatch on his jersey had a save percentage of 1.000% in the opening period.
The Canes would open the scoring in the 2nd on Vandervlis’ first of the season 2:22 into the period. Some hard work in the corner by Guiterrez and Babenko led to an Ice turnover. Guiterrez centred the puck to a wide open Vandervlis in the slot who wired one to the back of the net to get the Canes on the board. It was beginning to look like the Hurricanes might start to take control of the game as they got their legs moving but they were unable to mount sustained pressure as the period wore on. The Ice tied the game just after the 10 minute mark when they caught the Canes flat footed. Kootenay forward Roman Dymacek took a feed from Noah Philip and picked the top corner from just outside the hash marks. Game on. Shortly thereafter, Canes D-man Brady Reagan was victimized by a broken stick on a one-timer attempt at the blue line. Shortly after he went to the bench for a change the Hurricanes had a costly turnover which resulted in a Kootenay breakaway. While Kootenay forward Austin Wellsby was denied on the initial attempt, he was awarded a penalty shot (much to the chagrin of Hurricanes fans in attendance) that he ultimately converted to put the Ice ahead 2-1. That’s how the score would remain after 40 minutes.
I’m not sure what the Hurricanes coaches said in between the 2nd and 3rd periods, but I imagine it was fiery and perhaps laced with profanity. Whatever it was it seemed to work. The Canes looked to be a different squad in the game’s final stanza. They pressed hard but it looked like this game was just not meant to be. Egor Babenko found himself all alone in front and put the puck over a wide open cage. Shortly thereafter Kord Pankewicz rang one off the iron (the 3rd hit post of the game for Lethbridge). It felt like it was going to be one of “those games” where you know you’re the better team but the score board disagrees. The Hurricanes made a concerted effort to get the puck deep and began to fire from all angles looking for the equalizer.
That effort paid off at the 13:54 mark when a Nielsen slapper made its way through a maze of bodies to the back of the net. The crowd erupted in celebration. The Canes had been pressing hard and the announced 3457 fans in attendance were coiled up like a pit viper waiting to celebrate the tying goal. It was loud, the kind of loud this writer hopes to see more often in the ENMAX Centre as this season progresses. After the tying the goal the Canes went for the jugular. It appeared that this game was headed for extra time, but Canes forward Ryley Lindgren had other ideas. With 33 seconds left on the clock he made strong rush right up the middle of the Ice zone and snapped a shot that seemed to surprise Kootenay goalie Hobbs and found the twine. The ENMAX Centre went absolutely bananas. What an atmosphere! The Ice would pull the goalie for the extra attacker, and came close on one occasion, but the Canes would stand tall and skate away with 2 points in this one. 2 points that seemed all but lost throughout much of this Saturday night contest. The final shot count in this one was 32-29 in favour the Hurricanes, another stat indicative the Hurricanes effort in the 3rd as Kootenay had been ahead through the first 2 periods.
- Early Offence. The Hurricanes improved to 10-0 on the season when scoring the first goal of the game. This team does well when they set the tone early. While they struggled to assert their will in the 1st and 2nd periods, the Hurricanes kept this game close and managed to keep the win streak alive when scoring first.
- Ryan Vandervlis looked very comfortable skating on the 2nd line with Egor Babenko and Justin Guiterrez tonight. I thought Vandervlis looked good on Friday night vs. the T-Birds, but he one-upped that performance and turned in what is likely his best game as a Hurricane. It was great to see him take advantage of the extra minutes and get his first of the season.
- Thumbs up to the crowd in the 3rd period. The people were absolutely buzzing throughout the 3rd period and helped the Canes to generate the energy needed to secure a victory. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the rest of the 2015/16 season.
- The Hurricanes got away from what made them successful versus the T-Birds the night before. The team got a little pass happy again (much like earlier in the season) instead of keeping it simple and getting pucks to the net to try and create scoring chances.
- The Canes were pretty sloppy in clearing their own zone for much of the night. They attempted some risky passes from below their own goal line that led to some good scoring chances for Kootenay. Luckily the Ice didn’t make them pay tonight, but that is definitely playing with fire.
- The Hurricanes could have done a better job at creating traffic in front of the net in this one. The Ice goaltender was easily able to pick pucks up and cradle them in his midriff to ensure no secondary scoring chances. Lethbridge will need to make the goalies life harder moving forward.
- The 50/50 award had to be re-drawn in this contest. Someone lost out on winning over 4 grand in this one, although I guess that’s a good thing for whomever took the prize home as a result of a re-draw.
This was quite an interesting game to watch tonight. I’m not sure if the Hurricanes took the Ice for granted or not, but it seemed to appear that way. Luckily Lethbridge returned to their recipe for success late in this contest and managed to put up a W. It may not have been the prettiest of victories, but at the end of the year they count the same. Here’s to hoping that the 3rd period Canes are the ones that we see in the future. Keep it physical, get the puck deep, put it on net and get rewarded. It seems deceptively simple, but the WHL is an incredibly tough league so here’s to two well earned points on this Saturday.
Professional student, prospective teacher. Red Wings/Blue Jays/49ers super-fan. Proud general manager of Team Mono and the Slumlords in a pair of fantasy hockey keeper leagues. Is there anything better than soup and sandwich? Twitter: @jsvsakamoto.