GDB 27.0 WRAP UP: SICK SICK SICK
What a game! Again! Night after night this crew seems to pull together a great effort in front of the home crowd and once again they didn’t disappoint. Darian Skeoch dropped the mitts in a heavyweight tilt. There were 10 goals! Tyler Wong scored a goal so grossly epic, the Queens of the Stone Age wrote a song to commemorate it. Tonight was a good night.
Tonight’s game opened with blatant mistakes by both teams. Some strange bounces and missed passes resulted in odd man rushes and near misses but the score remained at zeros. The Hitmen earned the first powerplay of the game and while they didn’t score, they utilized it to pour on some heavy pressure for the next five minutes. While the Canes had chances of their own, the period progressed with Calgary carrying the play and generating the best scoring chances. But while Calgary was carrying the play, it only took one golden opportunity on a 2 on 0 rush for Carter Folk to put the Canes up 1 – 0.
It didn’t take long for the Hitmen to respond – or rather – for the Canes to respond for them. Jayden Sittler struggled to corral a long range shot and when it fell back to the ice, Andrew Nielsen deflected it into his own net. On the very next shift, Brady Reagan committed an ill-advised turnover at the faceoff dot to Sittler’s left and the Hitmen would strike again on a hard shot from the slot. I hate to say it, but justice was served with the Hitmen leading after twenty. The Hurricanes were horrendous in their own zone. While the Canes likely could/should have had a few more goals, it was the Hitmen that won the period outright.
The second period started like a barn on fire. Darian Skeoch accepted an invitation by the gargantuan Keegan Kanzig to drop the mitts. Kanzig got some big shots in early, but Skeoch stood his ground and got a good jab in himself before the two fighters were intercepted by the linesmen. On the next shift the Canes earned a powerply and Arvin Atwal connected with Corey Millette to tie things up at 2 – 2. The tying goal would set the stage for Tyler Wong to unleash a classic on the world. Wong, after stripping the puck, entered the Hitmen zone 1 on 3, split the D, toe dragged the final defender and shot it beyond Cody Porter to put Lethbridge up 4 – 2.
Unfortunately for the Canes things took a rapid and dramatic turn for the worst in the second half of the second. After making some really big saves, Jayden Sittler was victimized for a bad five-hole goal and was subsequently pulled in favour of Stuart Skinner. On the very next shift the Hitmen scored again down low on a rebound off Skinners pad. Just like that, the Hurricanes two goal lead had evaporated. The Hitmen came close late in the period on another powerplay, but a few key plays by the Hurricanes penalty kill enabled the Hurricanes to escape the period tied at 4.
The third period began fast and furious. Both teams traded chances and Lethbridge came extremely close when Carter Folk bounced one off the far post, but the score remained 4 – 4. Cody Porter made a few really big saves and managed to keep the Canes from scoring even after he lost his stick under extended pressure – but midway through the period – things changed. Tyler Wong scored another beautiful goal on a perfectly placed one-timer and the Canes found themselves up 5 – 4. Estephan made a premier pass and Wong made no mistake placing it upstairs on Porter for his second of the night. Things got a little dicey when Tyler Wong took a high hit in the neutral zone. Arvin Atwal immediately dropped the gloves to exact some revenge but received a ten minute major for the play. The Hitmen pressed hard but Justin Gutierrez would keep his goal scoring streak alive – sniping one home short side on a 2 on 1 rush with Egor Babenko. The goal put Lethbridge up 6 – 4. That’s how things would end.
- Tyler Wong scored a PHENOMENAL goal tonight. It was sooooo nice I think I pee’d a little.
- Brett Davis with some fantastic effort tonight on the penalty kill. He played a massive role in establishing a shorthanded forecheck in both the first and third periods.
- I love the way that Ryley Lindgren plays the game. He and Calgary’s Sanheim has an on-going battle tonight – neither giving the other an inch down in the corners. The scrappy play would peak with 8 seconds left when the two had a spirited scrap in the Canes end.
- Darian Skeoch took on the mighty Keegan Kanzig in a bare knuckle back yard scrap. For those unaware, Kanzig is a massive… no… gargantuan young man. He is officially listed as 6’7’’ 245 lbs. Skeoch survived some big shots early before settling in and landing some jabs of his own. The best part was the Darian was laughing at Kanzig throughout the scrap. It was just what the Canes needed at the time and I have huge respect for Skeoch for taking on the heavyweight.
- When Tyler Wong took a high hit in the neutral-ice mid-way through the third, Arvin Atwal responded in a huge way. He stood up for his teammate and captain by dropping the mitts and laying some bombs on Malenstyn. Atwal was punished with an instigator and a ten minute major (effectively removing him from the game), but it was exactly what needed to happen. Those are penalties you are happy to take and massive moments for team cohesion.
- Once again all three of the Hurricanes “new” overagers contributed tonight. All three hit the scoresheet and delivered with the intangibles as well.
- Lethbridge won the special teams battle tonight. The penalty kill was fantastic and a massive reason for Lethbridge earning the win. They certainly didn’t get many breaks from the officials tonight and the PK came up massive.
- Any time you accidentally score on your own net it’s bad and that’s what happened tonight to Andrew Nielsen. It was a bit of a mistake by both he and Sittler who likely would want the goal back. The puck bounced out of his glove allowing the ensuing mistake to occur. Those sorts of things happen but…. Ouch.
- The Hurricanes made far too many unforgivable defensive turnovers tonight. The mistakes fell largely on the defensemen who repeatedly made ill-advised passes or skated into a stick-check. The Hitmen second goal is a perfect example. Reagan wasn’t alone. Andrew Nielsen made his fair share of bad turnovers too – on more than one occasion being bailed out by his netminder.
- While he didn’t have a horrendous game, the third Hitmen goal was a tough one for Sittler to give up. It was soft shot that it looked like Jayden simply “lost”. It was low and slow along the ice… and between his legs. Skinner entered the game at that juncture but surrendered a goal himself moments later.
THIS AND THAT
- Jordan Bellerive plays a really solid two-way game. I regularly find myself impressed with his play in the defensive zone. He plays smart and finishes checks. I can’t help but think the offense will come but it would be great to see him generate a few more chances. All in good time though. It’s rare a player with his skillset establishes his defensive game first – but it’s a great foundation for more to come.
- Justin Gutierrez played really well tonight. He had jump in his step all game long and made some key backchecking plays to break up odd man rushes.
- The Hitmen established a strong forecheck all night and it paid off. Calgary regularly deployed an aggressive two forward forechecking presence and it gave the Hurricane defenders trouble on the breakouts.
- LETHBRIDGE! Wake up. I love you city… but you’re missing out on some truly fantastic hockey. There couldn’t have been more than 2,700 people in the building tonight… that’s a rough eyeball so don’t take it as gospel, but this team honestly deserves better. These players are putting on a clinic at home and yet it seems a struggled to fill seats.
Tonight’s game was big. I want to be careful to avoid over exaggerating the importance of a game in early December – but staring down the barrel of three games in four nights against top Eastern Conference teams – starting with a win is massive. This win sets the Hurricanes up for an epic weekend against the Raiders and Rebels.
The Hurricanes were far from perfect tonight, but the Hitmen deserve credit as well. The Hitmen were aggressive and pressured the Hurricanes into mistakes. They are a good team and I fully expect they have ironed out their issues and will be a force as the season goes along. The goaltending may still be in question, but the Hitmen have some premium talent.
Up next, a big matchup Friday night against the Prince Albert Raiders. Tune in Friday morning for our pregame article here at Canes Domain.
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