GDB 5.0 WRAP UP: REBEL SCUM
Victory! Sweet victory! Tonight the Hurricanes responded from a mistake-laden effort against Kelowna with a solid effort tonight against the Red Deer Rebels. The powerplay, which had looked good through the first four games, was taken to another level tonight. The Hurricanes won the special teams battle and ultimately the game.
Final score, 5 – 2 Lethbridge.
The first period began with the Rebel’s carrying the play. The first five minutes Red Deer really pushed the Canes back and forced Jayden Sittler to make a number of big saves. The Canes looked sluggish and struggled to break out of their zone. The obviously bad ice was also coming into play. The puck was bouncing and standing on end making zone exits more difficult for both sides.
Despite the Canes being out possessed and relying heavily on Sittler and shot blocking, they also scored the only goal of the period in the first half. Rebel defenseman Austin Shmoorkoff was assigned a slashing penalty at the 6:28 mark and the Hurricanes powerplay got to work. Wisely ignoring the crowds wishes to shoot, the Canes moved the puck well on the man-advantage. The end result was a goal eerily reminiscent to the Hurricanes first on Sunday. Brayden Burke had the puck near the faceoff dot (to Rebel goaltender Trevor Martin’s left), took a look, and found Wong wide open in the slot for a quick one-timer. Estephan drew the second assist.
From that point both teams had chances. The Rebel’s still carried the majority of the play, but the Canes managed to generate some good scoring opportunities themselves. Lethbridge was struggling to manage the Rebel forecheck, but when they were able to chip rimmed pucks past Rebel defenders, the Hurricanes used their speed to generate chances off the rush. While Lethbridge struggled to establish it’s own forecheck, the Canes deserved credit for some key backchecking efforts. It was the backcheck and some clutch shot blocking from Pankewicz and Atwal that kept the score at 1-0 after one.
Things started to get physical late in the period and both Wyatt Johnson of the Rebels and Andrew Nielsen of the Hurricanes were sent off for cross-checking with 18 seconds left to play.
Shots after one were 13-9 for Red Deer.
The second began with some early pushback from the Rebels, but again Sittler was there when needed. After the first few shifts, the Canes started to take things over and quickly took the shots lead.
At 7:51 Doetzel took a penalty and the Hurricanes got to work on the man advantage once again. The powerplay moved the puck very well, but the Canes struggled to find the net. With one second expired, import Egor Babenko rushed in along the goal line, walked past Martin, and tucked the puck along the ice into the far side of the net. Despite the powerplay technically being expired, the Hurricanes had essentially scored on four straight powerplays dating back to Sunday.
The Canes looked good until Giorgio Estephan took a tripping penalty at 10:53. It appeared the Canes were about to kill it off, but Preston Kopeck stormed down the right wing and centered to Brandon Hagel who shook off an Andrew Nielsen stick-check and went top shelf on Sittler. Wong made a fantastic effort to disrupt Kopeck, but the Rebel forward did well to make the pass anyways. Score at that time was 2-1 Lethbridge.
Just over a minute later, Doetzel and Fleury would take consecutive penalties, giving Lethbridge a lengthy 5-3 man advantage. The Hurricanes made good on the opportunity, this time getting a goal off a hard point shot by Andrew Nielsen. It was Nielsen’s first of the season. Assists went to Estephan and Burke.
Both teams would trade chances in the remaining four and a half minutes, but both Martin and Sittler stood tall. Martin made what I thought to be a key save when he kept his paddle down on a sneaky low shot from Vandervlis on a late 2 on 1.
Shots after forty were 28 – 17 for the Hurricanes.
The third period was again back and forth, but the Hurricanes found a way to generate offense while the Rebels struggled. Andrew Nielsen would score from the point on yet another Hurricane powerplay bringing the score to 4-1. Burke got the assist, bringing his points total to three on the night. The Hurricanes continued to press and to disrupt the Rebels in the neutral zone, creating turnovers and generating chances.
Lethbridge would take some late penalties, and Rebel forward Adam Musil would get a late powerplay goal, but it was to no avail. Moments later Tyler Wong salted the game away after generating a turnover from Brandon Hagel. It was Wong’s 2nd of the night and 7th of the season.
Final shots 40 – 29 for Lethbridge.
- What more can be said about Brayden Burke and Tyler Wong. I thought those two, along with Estephan, were once again the best line on the ice for either team. It’s not a big line, but it’s fast, and all three players mesh well together. Burke has some exceptional vision and compete.
- The story of the game was ultimately the Hurricanes ultra-effective powerplay. I noted it’s lethal nature heading into tonight’s game, and it lived up to the billing. Outside of Wongs empty net goal, and Babenko’s second period marker (which was really still a man advantage as a Rebel penalty had only just expired a second prior), every goal the Hurricanes scored tonight came on the powerplay. The powerplay is so effective because it generates movement from top to bottom. Kisio has put a forward right in the slot (usually Millette or Wong) then encouraged his point men to move. It opens passing and shooting lanes. It’s dynamic and difficult to defend.
- This was Egor Babenko’s best game as a Hurricane. Outside of a brilliant powerplay goal in the second, Babenko was creating all over the ice. He backchecks well, anticipates plays, and plays responsible. Often skilled Euros will abandon the defensive game, but I’ve noticed that Babenko takes it very seriously. He also does a great job of rolling off of hits. He is small but somehow manages to make bigger players on the opposing side take the worst of hits.
- Andrew Nielsen also had his best game of the season tonight. He was pair up with Merezhko, who had a mostly solid night. Nielsen was prone to a few turnovers, but his fluid skating helps him recover more often than not. Tonight he was distributing the puck exceptionally well and also put his slapshot to work. His second goal was evidence that hockey really is a game of inches. Seconds prior to scoring, Andrew made a poor decision at the point that almost resulted in a break the other way. The puck was held and moments later in the back of the Rebels net. Kisio also liked Nielsen’s game as he was doubled shifted with Kennedy late.
- The Atwal-Pankewicz pairing is proving to be a defensive force… of sorts. Atwal has been risky at times, and in the second Pankewicz made a really bad turnover on a Hurricane powerplay, but when the game was on the line, those two really stepped up. The most impressive aspect of their game to me was shot blocking. Both Pankewicz and Atwal really helped out Jayden Sittler tonight with some massive shot blocks.
- Jayden Sittler. He gave the Hurricanes a phenomenal effort tonight. He was big in the net and mobile down low. He rarely looked out of position and minimized his movement. Tonight’s performance may well be a tipping point in the Hurricanes crease. Sittler has out performed Skinner and deserves the next start. It was great to see him thrilled about the win. Sittler is from Red Deer, has multiple friends on the Rebels, and his parents were in town for the game. Good for him.
- The Hurricanes started very slow tonight. If not for some big saves by Sittler in the first ten minutes, they could have dug themselves a massive hole. It was the same kind of start that got them in trouble in Medicine Hat. Tonight they got the saves and improved their game by the halfway mark of the first.
- Tonight’s attendance was disgraceful. Credit to the fans that showed up and cheered on the team. The Hurricanes played a fantastic game tonight and deserved some support. It’s a tough time for the Canes to compete against the major leagues. NHL hockey starts up tomorrow and the MLB playoffs are now in full-swing. Excuses aside, the attendance needs to be better. It was shameful to see so few people out on a beautiful Tuesday evening.
- Turnovers. While not as bad tonight, the Canes will need to cut down on the turnovers moving forward. They were vastly improved from Sunday, but still spotted the Rebels some juicy chances.
- The ice seemed really bad tonight. The puck was bouncing everywhere and players on both sides had to fight it all night long. I know the Enmax isn’t renown for great ice, but it is usually better than it was tonight.
This & That:
- While the game didn’t lack for intensity, there was very little in the way of huge hits.
- Rebel defenseman Kayle Doetzel must be feeling some heat from the coaches after a tough night. Doetzel was victimized for three key penalties in the game.
- Is the in-house camera angle from the neutral zone press box new or have I just noticed it now?
The win moves the Hurricanes back to a game over .500 on the season. It was a huge win. The Canes once again outshot their opponent and were full credit for the win. Many of the Hurricane’s wins last year came on the back of a single player (often Skinner). So far this year, the Canes have won, and done so rather convincingly.
“Rebel Scum” indeed.
Agree? Disagree? Did I miss something? Comment below on what you saw tonight.