GDB 4.0 WRAP UP: Hurricanes vs. Rockets
Tonight the Hurricanes successfully defeated themselves. In what was at times a fantastic effort, mental lapses and bad penalties were their vice.
It was a frustrating game from a Lethbridge perspective as the Canes carried the play and looked the better team for three quarters of the night. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, when they were bad, they were really bad. Kelowna made them pay.
More thoughts after the jump…
Tonights game started out a little slow. Both teams playing last night may have been a factor. By the halfway point of the first, the two teams had combined for only seven shots. The Hurricanes started to look really good by the mid point of the period. The Millet, Babenko, Gutierrez line was a big part of turning the tide for Lethbridge as they managed to sustain pressure in the offensive zone. Atwal also played a big role in pinching low and keeping pressure on the Rocket wingers. After Kelowna scored on the powerplay, the Canes carried the play for long stretches but couldn’t generate a goal.
Kelowna looked dangerous on the counter-attack in the first. While Lethbridge had some good sustained pressure, the speedy transitions of Kelowna led to numerous Rocket 3 on 2 rushes. Skinner bailed his defensemen out on a few occasions and kept the deficit at one. On the other end, Rocket netminder Jackson Whistle looked solid, turning aside all 12 Hurricane shots. Lethbridge failed to capitalize on a couple glorious opportunities late in the period, including a gaping cage situation generated by Babenko.
Shots were tied at 12 after the first.
The second period played out in two very distinct halves. The first half the Rockets lulled the Hurricanes to sleep and took advantage of the counterattacks they had shown flashes of the first. Within two minutes, Rocket’s Kirkland and Quinney, twice victimized mistakes by Brady Reagan for two quick goals. Down 3-0 early in the second, both the Canes and their fans were silent. Kisio called a timeout, calmed the players down, and the Canes slowly took the period over from there.
The Rockets got themselves in penalty trouble late in the second, and the Canes powerplay made them pay. Within five minutes, Tyler Wong and Justin Gutierrez scored powerplay goals to bring the Canes within one. The remaining two minutes that followed Lethbridge’s second goal were complete chaos for the Rockets. Both Wong and Carter Folk had clear cut breakaways from the Rocket blue line in, and both were denied by the phenomenal Jackson Whistle. The Folk chance was Whistle’s third clear cut stop on a breakaway in the game. The end of the period came at an ideal time for the Rockets as the Canes looked poised to score a tying goal.
Shots by the end of the second were 30 – 21 for Lethbridge.
The third period saw the Hurricanes push hard, but ultimately be undone by egregious defensive mistakes. Just as the Canes looked poised to score a tying goal, Carter Folk took an unacceptable offensive zone roughing penalty and the Rockets made him pay on the powerplay. Shortly after, Brady Reagan bobbled receiving a pass at the point and the Rockets scored on the ensuring odd man rush.
The Canes would press, and Wong would score another goal late, but the damage was already done.
Rockets won, 6-3. Final shots were 42- 33 Lethbridge.
- Love the integration of more live video during the game. More specifically, the player interview in the second intermission and the post-game in the lounge are both really great ideas. Kudos to the Hurricanes for integrating those into the game night experience.
- Braden Burke. From where I stood, he was undeniably the best Hurricane for the majority of the game. His playmaking ability came to the forefront on multiple occasions and the saucer pass he made to Wong for the Hurricanes first goal was incredible.
- So far this season, the Hurricanes have proven to have an impressive powerplay. I equate that largely to coaching. They scored two key powerplay goals tonight to make the game interesting. If the Canes can keep up their strong powerplay and cut down on penalties, their special teams play could really propel them along this year. The powerplay is effective because they threaten from the point and down low. Pankewicz and Atwal were both really mobile manning the point on the powerplay and it led to open shooting and passing lanes. When the point wasn’t an option, Wong and Burke were able to give the Rocket’s grief down low. It’s been fun watching the Canes excel at something and I don’t see why it can’t continue.
- Tyler Wong has taken the captain’s’ “C” and run with it. He is undeniably the life-blood and energy of the team. He scored two more goals tonight. Four games into the season, Tyler Wong is proving he is a force.
- Penalties. While the Rockets did a good chunk of their damage at five on five, the two powerplay goals Kelowna scored came at crucial times in the game and on penalties that could have been avoided.
- Carter Folk took another undisciplined penalty tonight. Last night against Kootenay it didn’t matter as much as the Canes had a big lead. Tonight however, Folk took an unnecessary offensive zone roughing penalty when Lethbridge looked poised to tie the game. Instead, the Rockets scored on the power play extending their lead to 4-2. It’s too bad because Folk has been a welcome addition since returning from injury. He’s been making plays and forcing turnovers. He and his teammates will need to cut down on the dumb penalties if they want to beat the top teams in the league.
- I hate singling out players, but the Ex Presidents defensive pairing (Kennedy/Reagan) had a terrible night. Reagan was directly responsible for three of the Rockets’ goals and was visibly frustrated after their fifth. I loved their play in segments of the first few games, but tonight the Rocket’s really exposed 24 and 28. Hopefully it was just one game and the two can rebound Tuesday, but there were many question marks about the backend heading into the season, and for tonight at least, those fears appear justified.
THIS AND THAT:
- No reason to panic, but through four games, Stuart Skinner has been the second best Hurricanes goaltender. Tonight Skinner’s D really let him down, and the majority of Kelowna’s goals come on odd man rushes. I don’t want to sell him short, as he did make some fantastic saves and wasn’t “bad” tonight. That said, he’s been pulled in two of three starts and will be wanting to bounce back.
The Hurricanes had more than what was needed to beat the Rockets but were their own worst enemy. At key moments in the game, Jackson Whistle was able to weather the storm and his forwards gave him a big lead to defend. When the game was still in limbo, Whistle was really the difference for Kelowna.
Lethbridge can look at this game and take some significant positives away, but will need to tighten things up on the backend moving forward.
They play again at home against the currently perfect Red Deer Rebels on Tuesday.
Agree? Disagree? Did I miss something? Comment below on what you saw tonight.