GDB 45.0 WRAP UP: DIE HARD
On a day where we already celebrated the life of David Bowie, it only makes sense to also recognize the work of the late Alan Rickman. Rickman’s defining role was that of German terrorist Hans Gruber in 1988’s Die Hard. I’m not going to waste your time and explain the plot. If you don’t know it… stop reading this right now and go watch Die Hard.
Rickman’s Gruber is arguably the greatest on-screen villain of all time. His performance is a huge part of what has made the film as a classic. The movies protagonist is hardened NYPD officer John McClane. McClane is up against some unsavory customers and takes a serious beating on his path to rescuing innocent lives from the hands of Gruber. It doesn’t seem to matter what obstacle is in his way – McClane will go to any and all lengths to complete his task – including any required bodily harm. It’s what Die Hard means. A person or group that strongly opposes change in spite of opposition.
Tonight, both teams played with that mentality.
To the joy of Hurricanes fans, it was Lethbridge that managed to escape with the win.
It really was a game where every opportunity needed to be earned. Both the Raiders and the Hurricanes play a structured team game, and it showed. Lethbridge had far fewer scoring chances than they usually generate, and that has to be attributed to an impressive effort by PA. The first half of the game wasn’t unlike the 2 – 0 shut out win the Raiders earned earlier in the season. Lethbridge had chances, but PA always found a way to get in lanes, and eliminate threats. Part of the issue for Lethbridge was that Prince Albert had sensational puck support. It’s a quality we have grown to associate with this year’s Hurricanes, but when they face a team like PA, you start to understand how hard it is to play against. One lost battle or misplaced puck along the boards, and the Raiders positioning and structure ensured they would be on the counter in seconds.
Once the Hurricanes made some adjustments, they were able to wrestle the game back into reach. Lethbridge has been able to score pretty goals all year. It’s what they do, and they do it well (they lead the league). Because they score so many goals, they haven’t often needed to manufacture them. What I mean by that – is scoring goals the greasy way – with hard nosed intent. Tonight, it became evident after the 1st that pretty passing plays weren’t going to work. Cue Cory Millette. Placed back on a line with Gutierrez and Babenko early in the second, the gritty winger single handedly drew the Hurricanes even and paved the way for a huge overtime win with a couple of “crash the net” style goals.
Overall, it was a close game between two good teams. The Raiders controlled the 1st, but the Hurricanes clawed back and controlled the play for long segments of the second and third. Overtime was fitting. You could make an argument that either team deserved the win, but who am I kidding, it was pretty great to see Estephan get the winning goal. The Enmax Centre loved it, and the team got a rousing applause.
Tonight’s game didn’t get out to the greatest of starts from an entertainment perspective. While both teams did generate some chances, there were allot of offsides, icings, and general broken plays. After the first ten minutes, the teams had only combined for eight shots. Things didn’t get better in the second half of the frame. At least not for those of us Hurricanes fans. The Raiders would score two and almost get a third before the period ended. The first was simply a scramble play in the Hurricanes zone that ended up in the back of the net after a couple missed checks. The second was a mixup between Skeoch and Sittler behind the net on a Raider dump-in. Skeoch got bodied off the puck, and Sittler was a little slow getting back. The end result was another Raider goal. At the end of the first, Prince Albert led 2 – 0, and 13 – 4 in the shots.
Lethbridge played a much better second period. Cory Millette got the home team on the board early in the second frame when he pulled the puck away from Scott and into the net. Brett Davis thought he had scored a few minutes later, and it was called a goal on the ice, but the overhead pretty clearly showed it hadn’t actually crossed the line. It was on a great pass from Duperreault, and Davis appeared to have gone bar down, but the puck bounced off the crossbar, then the post, and directly out again. Despite the setback, Millette would get his second of the period a few minutes later to tie things up at 2. It was great passing play between Atwal and Millette on a 3 on 1 break for the Canes. Millette backhanded the puck perfectly under the crossbar and it was 2 – 2. That’s how the period would end. After two, the shots were 17 – 18 for PA.
The third period was cagey. Neither team was able to score, but it wasn’t for a lack of opportunities. The chances were there, but only ever for a brief moment. Both squads continued to desperately get a stick or a body part in front of shots. The highlight of the period was a four minute penalty kill by the Hurricanes when Jordan Bellerive got caught for high sticking. Not only did the Hurricanes kill it off, they only allowed one or two shots, and came oh so close to scoring when Bellerive was sprung on his way out of the box. The game would require overtime, and less than a minute in, Giorgio Estephan caught a pass from Egor Babenko and broke in on a breakaway. Estephan made a nice move and slide it five hole to win the game for Lethbridge.
- Giorgio Estephan made some wonderful plays tonight. One that really stood out was a backcheck to eliminate a Raider 2 on 1 in the 1st. Phenomenal effort. Oh and he scored the game winner in OT. So that was cool too.
- Darian Skeoch blew up Raider winger Luke Coleman along the boards. It was a HARD, yet perfectly clean hit. With Folk out of the lineup, it’s great the Canes have a few other players capable of those big hits. No surprise, it was elected as hit of the night in-house.
- Kisio shuffled up his lines after a sub-par first period and it worked. He moved Millette back onto the Gutierrez, Babenko line and the result was two goals.
- Cory Millette was great tonight. Two goals in the second, and was sniffing for a third all night. Would be unfair not to mention how good he was away from the puck as well. The overager played a complete game in every way.
- Arvin Atwal also had a fantastic night. He was dancing all over the ice, going end to end, and was involved in the all the Hurricanes offense prior to Estephan’s overtime goal.
- The Hurricanes killed a double minor late in the third period. It was an impressive display of determination and defensive awareness. I don’t think the Raiders got more than one or two shots. Impressive stuff.
- Giorgio freakin’ Estephan. Wow. Ice in his veins, makes a perfect move on Ian Scott in OT and slides it 5 hole for the game winning goal. This guy must have rare imported silk sewn into his gloves. Even better knowing it was right in front of family.
- It wasn’t a good opening frame for the Canes. They did some good things, and had a few nice chances, but the fine details weren’t there. The Raiders did a good job of collapsing on Lethbridge attacks and were just better all around. The shots after 20 were indicative, 13 – 4 for PA. I don’t want to oversell it. The Canes were terrible, but adjustments were needed.
- The Raiders were exceptional with their sticks tonight. They always seemed to either block shots towards the net, or direct them over the boards with good stick placement. Have to respect it, but no denying it gave the local team some troubles.
- Not enough physicality across the lineup. Would have like to have seen a few more big hits delivered by Hurricanes on the forecheck along the boards in PA’s end. I will say that they improved in this area as the game progressed and there were some big hits in the latter half of the 3rd.
- People who scream “SHOOOOT” at the top of their lungs during every single powerplay… just stop. Please for the love of all things good and green on this earth, just stop. It’s idiotic. It’s a giant flare to the world that you’re understanding of the game needs work. The Canes have the best powerplay in the league… cut them some slack?
- I try not to single out players often, but Bellerive took two irresponsible stick infraction penalties in the offensive zone tonight. The first negated a Hurricanes powerplay, and the second forced the team to kill a four minute double minor with the game tied late in the 3rd.
THIS AND THAT
- Loved the ceremony this weekend to recognize all the families and billet families behind this Hurricanes team. Thanks to this site, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of families as well as billet families, and I can confidently say that there are some sensational people behind this group of players. It’s always been a pleasure bumping into the various family and billet family members around the rink and I’m happy they got a moment of recognition.
- Ian Scott is a big netminder and does a good job of taking away the bottom half of the net. Moved efficiently tonight. If Canes were going to score, it was likely going to need to be up high.
Another big win at the end of a big week. If I’m not mistaken, the win is their seventh in a row, and their 19th at home. The Hurricanes have been lights out here at the Enmax Centre. As I noted a few weeks ago, it’s something that bodes well for the second half, as they have a favorable schedule.
That schedule sees them play only two games next week, both home affairs. Wednesday night the Spokane Chiefs are in town, and Saturday Moose Jaw pays its first visit to our fair city. Can they make it eight in a row? We will have to wait to see, but based on what we’re seeing, I can’t help but like their chances.