GDB 38.0 WRAP UP: PLAYING WITH FIRE
As the old adage goes, “if you play with fire, you will get burned.” That’s exactly what happened to the Canes tonight as they were penalized 11 times resulting in 9 power plays for the Hitmen. This led directly to 3 power play markers for Calgary. Any way you slice, that is not a recipe for success and that was proven tonight. With the loss, the Hitmen are once again tied with the Hurricanes at the top of the Central Division in the Eastern Conference. Full details are below.
It was great opening period in tonight’s game. Both teams unleashed their inner Vin Diesel and went fast and furious (terrible pun, I know). The Canes 4th liners would have the best chance of the early minutes when Barrett Sheen fed a wide open Ben Dupperault in the slot; however, Hitmen goalie Cody Porter made an outstanding save to keep this one tied nil-nil. Lethbridge would open the scoring when Brayden Burke potted his 10th of the season to cap off a textbook 2 on 1, following a Hitmen turnover in the neutral zone. Calgary would tie the game up shortly thereafter on seeing-eye point shot from D-man Keegan Kanzig. The Hitmen’s resident behemoth snapped one on net right off the draw that seemed to re-direct off of Kord Pankewicz’s skate and find the twine. From there the teams would trade chances for a while as the track meet like atmosphere continued. Jordy Bellerive would put the Canes on top when he finished off a beauty of a backhand feed from Carter Folk on another odd man rush for Lethbridge. The goal scoring play began all the way back behind the Canes net when Pankewicz continued his stellar play by knocking the Hitmen forward off the puck with a great hip check and got the rush started. That’s how the 1st would end with the Canes ahead 2-1. The Hitmen would have the edge on the shot clock 12-10.
Special teams was the common theme in the middle stanza accounting for all the goals scored by both teams. The Canes would add to their lead early in the period when Estephan would score as a carry over power play from the 1st period was winding down. Burke did a great job to win a scramble draw and get the puck back to Nielsen. Andrew would send it cross ice to Giorgio who then walked in a buried the wrist shot to make it 3-1 Canes. Calgary would respond on a power play of their own following a too many men call. Hitmen forward Jakub Stukel found himself wide open in the corner and made no mistake on the one timer. Part way through the period Jordy Belleirve would catch an edge and accidentally high stick Taylor Sanheim resulting in a double minor. However, right off the PP’s opening draw Giorgio Estephan would corral a loose puck at the Canes blue line and turn on the jets en route to scoring a shorty on the break away for his second of the period. Unfortunately for the Canes, the two goal lead was short lived as the Hitmen would get a full 2 minutes of 5 on 3 when Kord Pankewicz was whistled for the rarerly called playing with a broken stick penalty. The Canes did a good job throughout much of the 5 on 3, but a late failed clearing attempt saw Jake Bean send the puck to Keegan Kanzig who would bury his second of the game from the point. The 2nd would end with the Canes up 4-3 while being outshot 21-14.
The 3rd period was generally an ugly one for the Canes as the penalty parade continued. Lethbridge managed to kill off the Hitmen’s first two PP attempts in the third, but were unable to extend their lead on power play chances of their own. Midway through the period Layne Bensmiller would tie the game for Calgary when he handcuffed Jayden Sittler with a high shot on a 3 on 2. You have to give credit where it’s due as Hitmen goalie Porter got the play started with a head’s up pass taking advantage of the aggressive Canes fore check. The Hurricanes’ penalty troubles would finally catch up with them when Jakub Stukel netted his 2nd of the game following a tripping call on Andrew Nielsen to give the Hitmen their first lead of the night. It briefly appeared that the Canes had tied the game on a 4 on 2 with Millette crashing the net hard and possibly pushing a loose puck over the line. The ref signalled that it was a goal and the play would go to review; however, the call would be over turned due to the net coming off its pegs. From the camera angles available on the WHL live feed there were no conclusive shots which would meet the burden of proof to overturn the call on the ice, but it was quite possibly a correct call and who knows what angles the guys upstairs had access too. The Canes would get a chance to equalize with a late power play, but standout Hitmen defender Jake Bean would add to his league leading defenceman goal totals with an empty netter from 200 feet away. This one would end with the Canes getting downed 6-4. The Hitmen owned the shot clock, outshooting Lethbridge 38-18.
- Giorgio Estephan played a strong game tonight. He led the way offensively with a pair including a beauty on a short-handed breakaway in the second period.
- Kord Pankewicz was solid yet again for the Canes. He continually won one-on-one battles with the Hitmen fore checkers throughout the contest. His game really stood out despite the loss tonight.
- Bellerive got the proverbial monkey off his back with a goal in the first. Hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come.
- Thumbs up to Carter Folk for answering the bell versus Loch Morrison. Folk had steam-rolled Jake Bean with a clean hit along the wall and Morrison immediately came charging in. Folk made him pay for that decision. (I’m still not sure how Morrison avoided an instigator on the play)
- Penalties, penalties, penalties. 11 in total for 9 Hitmen power plays including a full 2 minutes of 5 on 3 in the second where Calgary scored. Some of the calls were pretty ticky tack, especially considering the weight of this game, but none were terribly egregious. The Canes really needed to take better care of their sticks as they were whistled for numerous tripping and high sticking infractions.
- Face offs were troublesome tonight. I know this is something that we at Canes Domain have made mention of many times in the past, but it seemed magnified tonight. The Hitmen generally dominated the Canes at the dot. Perhaps Yanic Perreault is available for a clinic? (I may have aged myself with that reference).
- The no goal call. Again I would like to reiterate that the call may have been correct, but with everything this writer could see there was insufficient evidence to overturn the call on the ice. If better footage did exist, it would be nice to see it as a member of the viewing public.
- I’d harp more on the shot totals, but that’s largely a product of the aforementioned penalty trouble.
- Penalties again! Seriously 9 power plays?
This is a game that the Hurricanes will likely want to forget. Despite the penalty trouble they had multiple leads tonight and almost got away with a point or two in a game they had no business being in. That’s something you’ve got to love about this year’s squad. Calgary should have blown them out of the water, but the Canes kept it a game right till the very end. On a positive note these two clubs will get right back at it on January 2nd at the ENMAX Centre. Bring a friend, a sibling, a grandparent, or even a stranger, but we need to pack the barn for that one and make it loud as the Canes look to get revenge for only their second divisional loss of the season. Keep that Cane Train rolling in 2016.