GDB 22.0 WRAPUP: HIGHWAY ROBBERY
Highway robbery at its finest. The question is, did the Cougars rob the Canes, or did the Canes rob themselves?
The Cougars would open the scoring on a beautiful early rush. I hadn’t even cracked my first Winter Ale and so I don’t have much to say about it other than UHGGGG.
Canes responded and were all over the Cougars for the next five minutes. Babenko had one go off the post that fooled everyone in the building… except the referee. A few moments later, two Cougars defensemen played goaltender and saved a point blank shot on an open net. The Canes couldn’t buy a goal. Halfway through the period the Cougars led by one, but there was no denying who was the better team.
Things started to get really feisty between the two teams from that point on. The tension built after repeated post-whistle scrums and eventually boiled over with the Bellerive, Sheen, Davis line out in the offensive zone. Bellerive got into a shoving match and things escalated from there. It resulted in the Cougars first powerplay of the game. Prior to that, the Canes had failed to convert on two man-advantage chances of their own. The Cougars would score… but it wouldn’t count. Sittler was knocked over on the play and the referee immediately waved it off. Somehow, even under review, the call on the ice stood. No goal. It was a big break for Lethbridge in a period where they didn’t seem to get many – especially early.
Prince George was the better team to open the second period. They hemmed the Canes in and were giving the defense fits. Things again got heated with two big fights in the first five minutes. By the five minute mark both penalty boxes were filled to capacity. There were wild chances on both ends, the Canes still couldn’t score on numerous grade A chances and Jayden Sittler held the fort down on the other end. You could feel the tension building as the physicality ramped and the Canes couldn’t seem to break their goose-egg. Thankfully for Lethbridge, young Brett Davis managed to get the home team on the board with his first career goal. Of all the glorious chances the Canes had had up to that point, Davis scored a smart goal from behind the net that the Cougar netminder McBride deflected into his own net. The Canes would score again a few minutes later on a fantastic PP passing play as Gutierrez slid it home along the ice.
The third period began with the two teams trading chances once again. As it had been for the majority of the night – it was back and forth river hockey at its best. On a long offensive zone possession, the Cougars would tie the game on a point shot from Olsen. You could feel the Cougars pressing and, while it wasn’t the best goal from Sittler’s perspective, it was probably overdue. The Cougars would strike again with less than 8:00 remaining when Chase Witala would score his first of the game – an almost carbon copy of McAuley’s first. With the Cougars up by 1, the Canes found themselves on the PP with 1:51 remaining. They pulled Sitter for a 6 on 4 man advantage but a fortuitous bounce resulted in a Cougar empty net goal. That’s how this one would end. Final score, 4 – 2 Cougars.
- Egor Babenko was everywhere tonight. You can see his confidence continue to grow. He didn’t hit the scoresheet but it wasn’t for a lack of chances. He found himself in on two clear breakaways and just couldn’t find a goal.
- Bellerive Davis and Sheen were really great tonight as a line. They looked particularly good in the first half. It’s a line I would love to see more of in the future.
- Speaking of Davis, he got first career goal tonight! It was a the Canes first of the night and it seemed to help the Canes relax a little. Good for Brett. He’s been a great player for the Canes all season and I think there is more in him we haven’t seen yet.
- The Canes generated an absurd amount of scoring chances tonight.
- The Hurricanes struggled to convert on an absurd amount of scoring chances tonight.
- Canes put themselves in a hole early-on in this one. It was a wonderful individual effort by Colby McAuley though.
- This was a loose game on both sides. There were odd man rushes all over the place. It made for fun hockey to watch, but I don’t think it’s how either coach had it drawn up.
THIS AND THAT
- Green gear really clashes with black, white and red.
- New acquisition Nick McBride was phenomenal for the Cougars tonight. The Hurricanes were thwarted on multiple odd man rushes and clear cut breakaways. McBride was there to make the save time and time again. He should have probably been first star, but Brett Davis scoring his first won out.
It was a frustrating game as a Hurricanes fan. Let me also say it was a fantastically fun game to watch. The Canes were just snakebitten tonight. Pure and simple. They out chanced the Cougars by a wide margin but the Hockey Gods as it were, seemed to have it in for the Canes tonight. This was the sort of game that probably could have been 8 – 6 but neither team was getting the goal-scoring bounces.
There are no excuses though. The Canes should have won tonight – they didn’t. You could make a strong argument that Lethbridge deserved this game, but in the end, the Cougars did what they needed to do. They weathered a furious opening ten minutes, got timely goals, and had the better goaltending. It wasn’t that Jayden Sittler wasn’t good tonight, he was solid, but Nick McBride was amazing and amazing goaltending wins games. The end result was another Hurricane loss in a game where they had the lead. For the fourth time in five games, the Canes just couldn’t seal the deal. Even more frustrating, the Canes didn’t get a single point out of any of those five games. Lethbridge has yet to register a “loser point”. This Lethbridge squad is feast or famine to say the least.
There were lots of positives tonight, but a loss is a loss. Thankfully the Canes have a chance to get back in the win column tomorrow night.
Have some thoughts on tonight’s game? Comment below. We love to hear what you saw out on the ice.