GDB 28.0 WRAP UP: IHOP
What a difference 48 hours can make. This was not the same Lethbridge Hurricanes squad that played against the Calgary Hitmen on Wednesday night. For much of tonight’s game the intensity and physicality was largely absent. To put it simply the Canes came out flat tonight, much like the ubiquitous pancakes featured so prominently on the menu of IHOPs around the globe. However, this game was not filled with syrupy, buttery, deliciousness. Instead, it was something more bitter.
There’s really no point in mincing words regarding tonight’s contest. It was an abysmal start to the game for Lethbridge. Reid Gardner burned Andrew Nielsen on the game’s first shift and manage to sneak a puck past Stuart Skinner just 26 seconds into the game. From there things didn’t get any better for the Hurricanes. They managed to draw back-to-back penalties against the Raiders, but the power play proved anemic. Outside of one grade A scoring chance by Egor Babenko, the Canes couldn’t maintain any zone time over the 4 minutes with the man advantage. Part way through the first the Raiders broke into the Canes zone on a clear-cut 2 on 0. Thankfully, Stuart Skinner came up with a great save on former Hurricane Kolten Olynek to keep the score 1-0 Raiders. As the period progressed the Canes couldn’t get anything going. It was a poor 20 minutes all around, but the Canes D really struggled in the opening stanza. Communication seemed to be non-existent at points and numerous turnovers resulted in good scoring chances for PA. Young Stuart Skinner was equal to the task and the Canes can thank their tender for maintaining a one goal deficit as the first period expired. The only real excitement for Canes fans in the first period came when Justin Guiterrez took exception to a questionable knee from PA F Drew Warkentine. Guiterrez jumped right back to his feet after the play and made Warkentine pay old time hockey style in a spirited tilt.
In many ways the second period was a carbon copy of the first. The Canes came out flat once again. Skinner had to bale his team out a few times in the period’s opening minutes. This included an acrobatic glove save that saw Skinner unleash his inner Cirque du Soleil to corral a floating puck. Zone exits continued to be an issue throughout the period much like the first. The Canes seemed to have no energy, and as a result the crowd didn’t either. 4:06 into the period, PA centre Matteo Gennaro would receive the puck in the slot and rifle a wrister past Skinner to put the Raiders up by a pair. From that point on there’s not much to say. It was a lackluster period at best.
The 3rd period was a different story entirely. The Canes seemed to find the energy that had been missing through the first 40 minutes. Around the 6 minute mark of the period the Canes had far and away their best shift of the game to that point. Led by the line of Millette, Folk, and Guiterrez the Canes sustained pressure for the better part of a minute and generated numerous scoring chances. However, PA goaltender Rylan Parenteau was equal to the task. This would become the theme of the game’s final period. The Canes would buzz throughout, but Parenteau was always in position to make the save. Lethbridge coach Brent Kisio would take a page out of the Patrick Roy playbook and pull Skinner for the extra attacker with 3:18 left in the third. The Canes pressed and pressed but they could not solve Parenteau. Ultimately, they would fall 2-0 for just their 3rd loss on home ice this season.
- The fourth line of Vandervlis, White, and Sheen had one of their best games. In the 2 opening periods, when the Canes were really flat, the fourth liners managed to get some solid zone time and generate a couple of chances. They were rewarded for their efforts by getting a bunch of extra shifts in the opening 40 minutes.
- The Raiders defence needs to be commended in this one. They suffocated the Canes for much of the night. The blocked a ton of shots and were all over the Canes’ forecheckers throughout the game.
- Stuart Skinner was strong in this game. He made numerous saves in this one to give his team a chance to win and that’s all you can ask for from your goalie.
- The play in the third period was the Canes we’ve come to expect, especially inside the ENMAX Centre. Unfortunately Parenteau was equal to the task.
- The power play didn’t look anything like the number one ranked outfit in the Dub. They struggled to gain possession and generate chances despite having 6 opportunities in this one.
- The zone exits in this one. This was not the best game by the Canes defenders. Ugh.
- The crowd was limp in this one despite an announced attendance of 3000+ people. Energy in a hockey game is supposed to be symbiotic with the players feeding off the crowd and vice versa. That didn’t happen tonight.
- The lack of physicality was a little disheartening. It was key element in the victory over the Hitmen and was largely absent tonight. The Canes play better when they are physically engaged and there was little evidence of that tonight.
The Canes truly came out flat tonight and it cost them big time. It’s not often that the game winning goal is scored in the first 30 seconds but… Thankfully the Canes managed to find their game in the third to make something out of this contest but it was too little, too late. A flat start + good goaltending by Parenteau in the third = a loss. The Canes will need to have short memories about this game as the top team in the Eastern Conference comes to the ENMAX Centre tomorrow night for the annual Teddy Bear and Toque toss game. Hopefully the Canes of the final 20 minutes will show up and give the Rebels all they can handle.