GDB 6.0 WRAP UP: STEAM ROLLED
Are you loving it Hurricanes fans? What the Hurricanes did to the Tigers tonight was something I haven’t seen in years. They out hit, out skated, out shot, out-efforted, and just generally outclassed the Tigers.
Lethbridge was just flat out better in every way tonight. The final score was fully indicative of how the game played out and Canes fans will be hard pressed not to get too excited about the direction things are trending.
Final score: 7 – 0 Hurricanes
Once again the Hurricanes started a game a little flat footed. The first few shifts Medicine Hat hemmed the Canes in their own end. Despite the pressure, the Hurricanes did well to mitigate shots against. The Tigers couldn’t penetrate the sea of Hurricane bodies and sticks. It wasn’t long before things transitioned the other way.
Lethbridge took over the period from the first five minutes on. Thanks largely to their speed and smart puck movement, Lethbridge generated more shots, scoring chances, and dominated possession. Their strong play led to a penalty by Tigers overage defenseman Ty Stanton. The Hurricanes’ excellent powerplay was once again effective. With a few seconds remaining in the man advantage, Ryley Lindgren made good on a beautiful pass from Giorgio Estephan to put the Canes up 1-0.
After the goal, the play went both way, but again, the Hurricanes seemed to have the best of the scoring chances and were generating far more shots than Medicine Hat. As the period progressed, the Tigers had a few chances on the man-advantage, but really struggled to generate anything. More importantly, a late penalty to Ryley Lindgren would provide Tyler Wong with a short-handed breakaway, and a 2 -0 goal. Wong broke free at the Hurricanes blueline and out hustled two Tigers before sliding the puck five-hole on Tigers starter Evan Johnson.
Shots after one period were 11 – 2 for Lethbridge.
While Lethbridge was the better team in the first, they upped the ante in the second. From beginning to end, Lethbridge dominated the period, scoring four goals and doing it with style. Just 1:27 into the period Justin Gutierrez made use of extra ice (it was 4 on 4) to receive a perfect pass from Burke. Gutierrez went in on a breakaway and used his reach to slide the puck far side on Johnson.
Together, the Tigers and Canes took a wealth of penalties in the second (12 total). Andrew Nielsen scored his third goal in two games at the 10:43 mark, once again making use of his excellent slapshot from the point. After the goal, the Canes Jaeger White would take a slashing penalty. The Tigers struggled to generate, and thanks to some hard work, Carter Folk broke in on a shorthanded breakaway and scored on Schneider (who had come on in relief of Johnson). To this point in the game, each of the Hurricanes breakaway goals was slid in along the ice. The period ended with a blood and guts skill effort between Wong and Estephan. The two charged into the Tiger zone, Wong made a lightning quick move to get possession then centered to Estephan who was all alone in front.
Hurricanes led 6 – 0 and were outshooting the Tigers 20 – 18.
The third period began much as the second ended – with Lethbridge scoring a goal. This time, it was Egor Babenko. The small Russian streaked in down the left wing and sniped shortside shelf 15 seconds in. From there on in, the game wasn’t overly eventful. The Tigers did push back and start to establish some dangerous zone time, but Jayden Sittler was up to the task. Near the end of the game, there were some fisticuffs. White fought Butcher with five remaining and Bellerive fought Jevne at the buzzer. Despite pushing harder in the third, the Tigers attack was nullified by stellar defensive play by Lethbridge.
The game ended 7 – 0 for Lethbridge. Jayden Sittler was rewarded for his solid play with a 23 save shutout. Final shots, 28 – 23 for Lethbridge.
- Tyler Wong continued his torrid start tonight with a goal and an assist. His first goal, a beautiful short handed effort, was an exemplary case of how good his conditioning is. Wong fought off two Tiger defenders trying to chase him down with legs pumping. He made that goal happen through pure acceleration and foot speed. With two more points tonight, Wong will maintain his position as a top WHL point-getter in 2015-2016.
- Justin Gutierrez displayed some flashes of offensive ability in training camp and the preseason. Tonight he again put his goalscoring skills on display netting a slick deke goal on a 4 on 4 breakaway. Gutierrez shouldn’t be relied on for goalscoring, but he no doubt has a better skillset than his previous numbers reflect. He looks to be a good candidate to set some new personal bests this season.
- Seven different goal scorers tonight is evidence of the depth Anholt has assembled. I’ve been raving about the forward depth for a few games and continue to be more impressed as the games go by.
- I thought one of the key moments of the game was a huge arm save Jayden Sittler made on an early Tiger powerplay in the second. At the time the game was still very much in reach for the Tigers. Sittler made a fantastic reaction save and by the end of the period the Canes were winning handily. He didn’t need to make many saves tonight, but Sittler was still a big difference maker.
- While the powerplay has deservedly gotten much of the attention through six games, tonight the Hurricanes showed they also have a strong penalty kill. This was the best we have seen the Hurricanes kill penalties to this point in the season. They were able to establish a strong forecheck – resulting in two shorthanded goals and a plethora of chances. There was one particular Tiger powerplay in the second where the Hurricanes badly out chanced Medicine Hat for the two minutes. Two standout penalty killers were Estephan and Wong. Each led the charge in making things very hard for Tiger defenders.
- Andrew Nielsen was the best Hurricanes defenseman tonight. I mentioned in some of the early post game articles that Nielsen had been making some costly mistakes, namely penalties. In the last two games, Andrew has honed in and stepped his game up to the next level. While he did take a penalty tonight, it wasn’t unnecessary or undisciplined. He got tagged on a grey area interference penalty when the game was already out of reach. Aside from that, Andrew was everything the Hurricanes need him to be. His mobility and vision is the best best on the Canes backend, and it really shows on the powerplay. Nielsen has driven the Hurricanes powerplay to it’s current elite state. He is developing a top of class point shot and has now scored three goals in the past two games from the point. Because he represents a threat from the point, the opposition is forced into respecting his shot and playing a wider PK box. The result is more room for Burke, Estephan and Wong to make cross crease passes. Mix in Corey Millette as the net front presence and you have a lethal powerplay. Andrew, like every other player on the roster, has areas of his game that need improving, but the Hurricanes have been at their best with him on the ice over the last few games. I don’t see any reason that should change moving forward. We are watching the evolution of a top flight defenseman before our eyes.
- Arvin Atwal made one particular play on a misread that sent a tiger in on a partial break that I want to make mention of. While there was a mistake made up ice, Atwal made a textbook defensive play to backcheck hard and knock the attacker off balance without taking a penalty. It was a small but brilliant play.
- It was nice to see the Canes get up by so many goals as it allowed the coaches to give Merezhko, Watson, and Kennedy some PP time in the third. Merezhko almost scored his first but missed the net.
- Watson looked right at home tonight and got better as the game went on.
- Brayden Burke continues to shine notching four more assists tonight. He is shown he is a visionary passer so far this season. Some of the sauce passes he has threaded through a forest of legs and sticks have blown me away. He has a bright future if he can sustain this level of play.
- Beer wasn’t free.
- Of course there were mistakes and turnovers etc… but I’m not one for critiquing a 7 – 0 drubbing of the arch rival Tigers. At least for tonight, it’s alllllll gooooood.
I said it on Twitter and I will say it again here. This is the best I have seen a Lethbridge Hurricanes team play since the late 00’s. I don’t hold them to that standard, and you shouldn’t either, but this is starting to look like more than just a hot start. We will reevaluate around the 15 game mark, but once again fans are leaving the Enmax a happy bunch. The Canes didn’t just beat the Tigers, they utterly and completely dismantled them tonight. The Tigers couldn’t get anything going tonight and the Hurricanes deserve major credit for it.
I will continue to say “it’s early” for at least another six games, but don’t get too bogged down in the future Hurricanes fans. Enjoy the moment.
Tonight your team laid a whipping on the big bad Tigers and looks poised to keep it going.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone! Keep your eyes peeled here and on Twitter as I am hoping to get time to do some non-game day writing draped in a mink, in front of my fireplace… on my tiger skin rug… smoking a corn cob pipe and listening to smooth jazz. Or maybe I’ll just relace my shoes…
Agree? Disagree? Did I miss something? Comment below on what you saw tonight.