GDB 18.0 WRAPUP: SLIP SLIDING
There’s no nice way to say it. The Hurricanes just weren’t good enough tonight. When the game was there for the taking, they failed to seize the moment. The Warriors are a dangerous team, and Lethbridge allowed itself too many lazy mistakes and ill-advised penalties to win tonight’s game. It’s always a frustrating loss when you had a multi-goal lead at any point in a game, but tonight that’s exactly what happened – they let one slip away.
Tonights game started at a rapid pace. Both teams were well rested and came out with lots of jump. An early too many men penalty against Lethbridge paved the way for a lengthy Warrior 5 on 3. It was a fantastic penalty- kill by Lethbridge. Moments later the Hurricanes got a powerplay of their own, but the Warrior penalty kill, like Lethbridge’s, was solid in killing it off.
Both teams traded chances in the second half of the period but neither could score. The Hurricanes got themselves into penalty trouble on a couple of borderline calls along the boards. By the end of the first, the Warriors had already had four powerplay opportunities. Stuart Skinner looked good and got some help from the post on two occasions to keep things scoreless. The Warriors had the better of the chances in the period, but all in all, the level of play was strong from both teams and it was an entertaining twenty minutes.
The Hurricanes came out strong in the second period. They were forcing the Warriors back with their speed, and the defenseman joining the rush was causing fits for Moose Jaw back checkers. Andrew Nielsen and Kord Pankewicz both had a few nice chances Wong opens scoring on a deflection from a great point shot by Nielsen. Shortly after, Corey Millette put Canes up 2 – 0 on a scoring chance generated from a forced turnover. Things looked great for the Hurricanes at this point in the game. They were outshooting the Warriors, had a 2 – 0 lead, and seemed to be playing a solid road game. Unfortunately for the Canes, it wouldn’t last.
Lethbridge was the better team in the first half of the second period, but the Warriors pushed hard late. Moose Jaw got Lethbridge running around with sustained pressure in the offensive zone and were able to score on a powerplay to cut the Hurricane lead to one. It was a tough goal to defend as a point shot bounced twice on Skinner and Nielsen before landing conveniently for the ultra-talented Brayden Point who wasted no time putting it in the gaping cage. The period ended with the score 2 – 1 for the Hurricanes.
The Warriors stormed out in the third period and tied the game on a beautiful individual effort by Landon Quinney for his first goal. It was an absolute perfect top shelf shot that beat Skinner clean from the high circle. The Warriors seemed to thrive after the goal. They were all over Lethbridge, pushing the Canes back and creating odd man rushes. On two occasions they broke-in on partial breakaways and twice Hurricane defenders were able to make a desperation play. On the second break though, Kord Pankewicz was tagged with a tripping penalty. Brayden Point would get his second PP goal of the game on the ensuing powerplay, putting the Warriors up 3 – 2.
The Canes looked to press for a tying goal late, but a turnover led to a fantastic goal by Warrior Dryden Hunt. It was a dagger to the heart, and seemed to encapsulate how tonight’s game went for the Canes. They were in it, but when push came to shove, the Warriors were the better team.
Final score, 4 – 2 Warriors.
- Lots of jump early. The Hurricanes have had a few nights where they struggle at the drop of the puck. Tonight both teams were fired up and ready to get going. It made for a really entertaining period despite neither team hitting the score sheet.
- Fantastic penalty killing… in the first half of the game. The Canes were really aggressive on the PK and it was causing all sorts of problems for Moose Jaw. Unfortunately they couldn’t keep it up all night and ended up surrendering two huge goals to the Moose Jaw powerplay.
- Stuart Skinner looked really sharp tonight. Despite giving up a few goals on the penalty kill, Skinner gave the Hurricanes a chance to win.
- Andrew Nielsen played a very strong game again tonight. The Hurricanes played better with Andrew on the ice. He displayed patience in spades and, as always, was an offensive catalyst from the back end.
- Penalty troubles continue. While the Hurricane penalty kill was fantastic in the early going, they were playing with fire by handing the Warriors so many chances on the man advantage. The Warriors skated harder in the second half of the game, generated powerplays, and capitalized. The Warriors won the special teams battle tonight, and it won them the game.
- The Hurricanes gave up a clear cut 2 on 0 which, for obvious reasons, should never happen. Kennedy and Reagan were the victims in this case. Thankfully, Stuart Skinner made a highlight reel save to keep the Canes up 2 – 0.
- The Canes looked flat after surrendering the first goal to Moose Jaw. The Canes got caught not moving their feet and it caused them to take more bad penalties.
- The Hurricanes overall team defense left a lot to be desired in the second half of tonight’s game. The team stopped moving its feet and the Warriors drove the net hard. All the good stuff Lethbridge did in the first half of the game came unglued once they found themselves up 2 – 0.
THIS AND THAT
- Burke stayed with Estephan and Wong. Bellerive skated with White and Davis.
- Kennedy moved back to defense which put both Nick Watson and Igor Merezhko as healthy scratches.
- Sawchenko was really good when he needed to be tonight. He held Moose Jaw in the game when Lethbridge looked like they would take things over in the second. Were it not for his play, the game would have likely been over before the end of the second. He also made a huge blocker save on Brayden Burke late in the game that kept the score 3-2 Warriors.
Tonight sucked. I have no better words with which to describe it. The Hurricanes put themselves in a position to win with a great first half, then threw it all away with sloppy, lazy play in the second half. The turning point of the game was the late Warrior powerplay goal in the second period. It changed the entire complexity of the night. I’m not a huge proponent of momentum, but I can’t deny it wasn’t a factor in tonight’s game. Heading into the second intermission, it really felt as if the Hurricanes were in trouble. As it turns out, they were.
When it came right down to it, the Warriors wanted tonight’s win more than Lethbridge did. Their desire manifest itself in puck battles and skating. The Canes let their foot off the gas when they had the lead, and after the Warriors came back, the Canes couldn’t recover. It’s a timeless issue, and it’s the reason they say a two goal lead is the worst in hockey. It’s a false sense of security. Credit Moose Jaw for battling back, but this loss, at least in my eyes, speaks more about the failures of Lethbridge. They fully deserved tonight’s loss based on the final half of the game. For the record, I felt some of the penalties against the Canes were the wrong call, but they didn’t do their part to draw powerplays on the other end of the ice, and for that there isn’t much of an excuse.
The Canes now hit the bus and travel to Brandon for a date with the Wheaties tomorrow night. It’s not an easy way to follow up a frustrating loss to the Warriors. There is no doubt, letting tonight’s game slip away put the Canes behind the eightball on this difficult road swing. They will really need to buckle down in order to escape with even a single win now. On the bright side, tomorrow is a brand new opportunity and another chance to see this team rebound from a tough loss.
Join us tomorrow for full coverage with a preview in the morning and wrap up afterwards.