GDB 42.0 WRAP UP: FIESTA!!
How do you like your tacos? I’m a big fan of hot sauce, lots of lettuce, ground beef, and of course, cheese…. lots and lots of cheese. I’m not really that picky, and as they say, “a taco saved is a taco earned…”, or something like that. What I’m getting at here is the Hurricanes score goals. They score goals this way, they score goals that way, they score goals however they can and whenever they can. Once again, Lethbridge found away to hit the five goal plateau at home and turn every fan’s ticket stub into a hastily assembled Taco Bell creation. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. A free taco is a free taco, and a win is a win, even if it’s over a struggling club from Cranbrook. Tonight’s game was about what you would expect based on the record of both clubs. Lethbridge was the better team over the full sixty, but Kootenay had it’s fair share of chances and gave the Hurricanes some problems. I never got the feeling that Lethbridge was in jeopardy of losing, but there were some moments that gave me second thought midway through the game.
I think the Ice are a better team after adding the players they got in return for Philp, but the final score didn’t really reflect that. Frankly, the final score didn’t necessarily reflect the game all that well. Kootenay hung around and threatened to tie things up deep into the second, but eventually buckled under the relentless Canes’ offense. They held their own but were ultimately ground down by a deeper team.
It was a lightning fast opening frame. There were very few whistles or high quality chances for either side in the first half. Canes carried the play for much of it, but the Ice did have a few nice rushes. The Hurricanes would strike twice in the second half, and in quick succession. Wong found himself in alone and went five hole on Holfin. On the next shift, Gutierrez faked a shot and instead fed a perfect pass cross ice to Babenko who put it home. After the goals things started to heat up with some pushing and shoving after the whistles. The Canes found themselves short handed for close to four minutes when Nielsen and Gutierrez took consecutive minors, but the PK was effective. The best scoring chance went to Bellerive who had a breakaway from his own zone. The Ice closed the gap quickly and Matt Alfaro made a brilliant defensive play to neutralize the break and send Bellerive tumbling into the boards.
The second period saw both teams tighten things up, not unlike last night in Red Deer. There were far more whistles than there were in the opening frame, and by the halfway mark, neither team managed more than a few chances. Kootenay would get on the board via a seeing-eye shot on the powerplay to close the gap to 2-1. Lethbridge would find their game again in the second half of the period and score two goals. First, Andrew Nielsen fired a PP point shot that found a hole through traffic and Hoflin – then – in the dying moments of the frame, Brayden Burke’s cross crease pass deflected of the Kootenay defender and in. The goal put Lethbridge up 4 – 1 heading into the third.
The Hurricanes took over in the third. Brayden Burke finished off a sensational no look passing play from Wong to put Lethbridge up 5 – 1, and not long after, Egor Babenko would get his second of the night on a sweet feed from fellow import, Igor Merezhko. Justin Gutierrez would rub some salt in the wound with just over three minutes left by getting his first of the night. It was the final goal of the night with Lethbridge winning 7 – 1.
- Justin Gutierrez’s pass on Babenko’s first goal was slick. He faked a slapper and dished for an easy one time goal for the Russian. A few shifts later he took a roughing penalty for sticking up for his Russian linemate. It’s the good kind of penalty to take. Sometimes you just need to step up and lay down the law after the whistle.
- I liked Andrew Nielsen’s game tonight. He showed some great awareness on a handful of plays, and when the Ice tried to take away time and space down low on the PK, Nielsen took advantage from the point by firing a hard slapshot through Hoflin. Andrew is leading the league in scoring from defensemen. It’s impressive no matter how you cut it.
- Tyler Wong has to have cemented himself on the WHL plays of the week with his no look behind the back pass to Burke for the 5th Hurricanes goal. What more can I say – it was gorgeous.
- Merezhko once again got himself on the scoresheet. With Skeoch out with the flu, Igor has filled in admirably, getting in on the scoring and playing (mostly) steady in his own zone.
- Brayden Burke and Egor Babenko both had two goals tonight. With the third line a little short handed, the top two lines really stepped it up and made good on the extra icetime.
- A night after losing Ryley Lindgren, Carter Folk left tonight’s game in the 2nd period after taking a few hits. I can’t pin-point the exact play responsible for the tweek, but it was enough to put the tough 3rd liner out of commision for the night. We will monitor his status, but needless to say, the 3rd line has taken a bit of a beating this weekend.
- The flu sucks and it’s going around the team. It’s the worst. You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you don’t even want to do fun things like play video games or watch movies. You just want to die. You don’t feel thirsty but the best thing to do is drink water… uhhggg. It sucks. I wish Skinner and Skeoch the best.
THIS AND THAT
- With Ryley Lindgren out of the lineup, Kisio was forced to fill some holes. Tonight they were: 21 – 9 – 5 // 22 – 23 – 19 // 27 – 15 – 10 // 29 – 14 – 26. It was great to see Vandervlis get a chance to play alongside Estephan and Wong on the top line. When Folk went down to injury, the lines were juggled further and we will have to see what happens prior to Wednesday’s game against Swift Current.
- It’s beginning to sound like Lindgren’s “lower body injury” isn’t too serious. Don’t be surprised to hear it’s some sort of minor sprain and he will be back in a week or so. Good news!
- Kootenay seemed content to concede Lethbridge the point in lieu of collapsing low on their PK. I’m not sure if it was intentional, or merely a consequence of an effective Lethbridge attack, but it seemed like the Canes had an endless amount of time and space at the point on the man advantage.
- It took Jayden Sittler a while to settle in, but he played a good game. It’s never easy to start in back to back’s as a netminder, but I felt Jayden locked it down in the second half of the game and propelled his team to the victory.
I could spend too much time micro analyzing this one, but (cringe), “it is what it is.” I had that cliche expression, I really do, but what is there to say about this one. The Canes played as well as they needed to in order to pull out the victory. If you want to contend for 1st place in the East you need to beat the teams at the bottom of the standings and that’s what Lethbridge did.
I feel terrible about how Kootenay’s season is going. By the end of the game, I couldn’t help but sympathize with the Ice and their fans. It wasn’t long ago we were subject to the losing end of games like this. Never forget how quickly things can turn for better or for worse. The Ice and the Hurricanes are on the extreme opposite ends of the WHL pendulum. I hope the Ice can right the ship in the second half and build momentum for next season.
For tonight though…
Yum… I love Mexican food.