GDB 19.0 WRAPUP: Where’s the Spark?
Like a miss-matched couple on a cheesy television dating show the Canes spent all of Saturday night searching for a spark. Alas, when this contest was all said and done they never found it. The Wheat Kings more or less controlled this contest right from the opening face-off. There were moments throughout the game where it looked like the Hurricanes might get something going, but either Brandon wouldn’t allow them or the Canes would shoot themselves in the foot.
Lethbridge desperately needed someone to step up and play the hero in this one, but it was not to be.
The Hurricanes did not have a great start to this contest. The Wheat Kings managed to control the majority of play in the first 20 minutes, but Jayden Sittler was equal to the task. His positional play was excellent and it allowed the Hurricanes to escape the period tied at zero. Face-offs were an issue in the opening stanza as Brandon dominated the dot, especially scramble draws. This will be something that the Hurricanes will need to improve on moving forward. The Hurricanes had a difficult time gaining the zone and maintaining pressure; however, when they did they were generally rewarded with an excellent scoring chance, which included a 2-0 that Justin Guiterrez was unable to convert. All in all not the start the Canes wanted, but not unexpected when you combine a well-rested Wheat Kings team with a Canes team playing a back to back.
It was a better start to the 2nd period for the Canes. In the early stages they showed some jump and managed to draw a penalty against Brandon. The 2nd unit came out and once they got the Wheat Kings moving the puck ended up on Babenko’s stick, he curled around at the hash marks and fired a low wrist shot to the back of the net to put the Hurricanes up 1 zip. The lead was shorted lived as Brandon would tie it up a mere 68 seconds later. The Canes were caught overloading one side of the ice and Ivan Provorov found himself with a wide open lane to the net. He would make no mistake going top cheese to knot the game at 1. The Canes would continue to mount some pressure, once again led by the 2nd PP unit. Atwal would make a toe drag just inside the line and ring one off the bar. After that it was a similar script to the 1st. Penalty trouble came the Canes way and Brandon re-asserted control. Once again Sittler would bale his mates out. On a Brandon power play, he lost his stick but somehow managed to keep the puck out with an incredible reaction blocker save. From there on it was pretty much all Wheat Kings as they would outshoot the Canes 17-8 in the period (37-19 overall).
The Hurricanes looked to have a little more jam to start the final period. They were skating better and managed to get some pucks deep to get the cycle going. Brandon defenceman Kyle Clague would be whistled for holding the opponents stick and Lethbridge would look to take the lead on the power play. However, Kord Pankewicz would get caught big time trying to stick handle through the PK’ing forwards. The puck was poked off his stick and Brandon was off to the races on a shorthanded 2 on 1. Arvin Atwal got tied up and was unable to take away the passing lane and former Hurricane Reid Duke made no mistake burying it into the yawning cage on a cross ice feed. From there on it was a pretty ugly finish to the 3rd for both teams. Lethbridge could get little going and Brandon iced the puck repeatedly. The Wheat Kings eventually put this contest on ice with two empty-netters in the game’s final minute to skate away with a 4-1 victory. The final shot tally was 45-29 in favour of the Wheat Kings.
- Jayden Sittler. There weren’t many bright spots in this one as no Hurricane really stood out with the exception of Sittler. He was outstanding in the net and the main reason why the final outcome in this game wasn’t a whole lot worse.
- The 2nd power play unit looked good tonight when given the chance. They scored the lone goal for the Hurricanes and generated many of the game’s best scoring chances.
- The PK had a good night as they killed off all 6 Wheat Kings chances in this one. Despite the (very surprisingly) low PP percentage that Brandon has, it’s no easy task to hold the likes of Provorov, Hawryluk, Quenneville, et al. off the board on 6 man advantages.
- The face-off dot. The Canes got killed on draws in this one. Whether it was clean wins or scramble wins Brandon came away with the puck the vast majority of the time. The Hurricanes ineptitude in this department was illustrated clearly when Tyler Wong was sent off for the rarely called face-off violation part way through the 3rd to quickly end a Canes PP.
- Lethbridge had a lot of trouble with puck possession in this game (a point which was exacerbated by the poor face-off performance). There were a ton of “one and dones” when the Canes tried to play dump and chase. They were unable to get the body on the Wheat Kings d-men in an effort to create zone time throughout this contest. The frustration became evident as the game wore on as you could see more attempts by the Canes to dangle through 3-4 Wheat Kings players when coming across the blue line.
- The Canes seemed to lack energy throughout. While this may be understandable following the long bus ride from Moose Jaw to Brandon, it’s just something that needs to be avoided as much as possible when playing a team with the talent level of the Wheat Kings.
- The shot totals. 45-29. ‘nuff said.
THIS AND THAT
- Egor Babenko took a big hit in the corner in the 3rd period and seemed to be labouring when he went back to the bench. He did come back to play later in the 3rd, so hopefully he’s good to go for tomorrow’s afternoon clash with the Pats.
- The Canes returned to their 11 forward – 7 defenceman set that was commonplace throughout much of October.
- Jordan Papirny was solid in net for the Wheaties; however, the Canes never really forced him to have be outstanding at any time.
- There were more than a few marginal penalty calls, and some bad non-calls, in this game both ways. I’m guessing both coaching staffs were none too pleased with the officiating tonight.
This was simply not a great game for the Canes. Unfortunately they looked more like the team of the last two years tonight instead of the one we have enjoyed so much to start the 2015-16 season. That being said, Brandon is a very talented team that can play any team right out of the building on a given night. I don’t think Brandon was that good tonight, but they were certainly good enough. Hopefully this game was just an anomaly for the Hurricanes and they get back to what’s made them successful this year.
While Pankewicz’s blunder may have been the difference tonight, make no mistake about it, this was a team loss. As a whole the Canes simply weren’t good enough. Aside from Sittler no one really stood out as a possible catalyst for the Hurricanes. One thing’s for sure, they have very little time to think about it as they have to get right back at ‘er against the Pats tomorrow afternoon. Perhaps they were simply trying to preserve some energy for the final tilt in a 3-in-3 weekend (seriously, 3 games in 3 days at this level of hockey and the third one is an afternoon start? Killer).
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.