GDB 60.0: RUBBER MATCH
(Photo Credit: Tyler Mikla)
Rubber Match. Nouns referring to a contest consisting of a series of successive matches or games, typically an odd number, between teams, sides, or people in a variety of sporting events. In the event of a ‘rubber match’, the teams, sides, or people are tied entering the final contest with the overall winner to be determined as a result.
In hockey, rubber matches are generally reserved for season series or the playoffs; however, for the Canes and the Hitmen we get the rare opportunity to enjoy a ‘rubber match’ at the end of a single calendar week. What’s in store tonight for this uncommon game? Join us as we discuss below.
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It’s been a very busy week between these two teams. The Canes travelled to Calgary on Sunday for an afternoon affair and skated away with a surgical 4-2 victory. The Hitmen took a trip down Highway 2 on Wednesday and did what no other team had done all season long, dominated the Canes at the ENMAX Centre, cruising to a 6-2 win. The second affair was a far more heated contest between these two clubs as 4 fights broke out over the course of the game. It will be interesting to see how much of that animosity remains heading into tonight’s game.
One would presume that a single spark will see that heat flare up again when you’re talking about division rivals playing 3 times inside of 7 days. As Ed Whalen used to say, “it’s going to be a ring-a-ding-dong dandy.”
I don’t think there’s too much that I need to say about Calgary in this space. With the way the schedule has worked out we here at Canes Domain have discussed what this team brings to the ice a lot this week. The Hitmen are coming off of a 3-2 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers last night.
According to Mitch Batch of CHAT TV in the Hat, that was the first game the Tigers had held a lead, let alone won, since January 31st. That being said it appears as though the Tigers’ goalie, Nick Schneider, stole the game with an incredible 48 save performance.
With those facts sitting at the back of Calgary’s minds there’s a very good chance that they will be coming into this one hungry. The play of Nik Amundrud in the Hitmen net will be a likely deciding factor in the outcome of tonight’s game. The backup goalie has been forced into action due to an injury to regular starter Cody Porter.
Amundrud was outstanding on Wednesday despite not having to face a lot of rubber. Several of the saves he made were highlight reel in nature; however, he’s not used to starting on back-to-back nights. It is possible that Porter could be back in the lineup as he’s listed as day-to-day on the WHL weekly report, but I have my doubts with the way he skated off the ice on Sunday, putting almost no pressure on his injured leg.
Injuries have been somewhat of an ongoing theme in recent weeks for the Hurricanes. Unfortunately, that trend continued last night when Colton Kroeker was victimized by a nasty knee-on-knee hit just inside the offensive blue line. It was a similar play to that which saw Ryley Lindgren miss a few weeks earlier in the season.
Barring some sort of miracle there’s no way that Kroeker will be in the lineup tonight. Perhaps the Canes will use an emergency call up to bring up one of their prospects to prop up a depleted line up. As of the writing of this preview, there’s been no indication of what will happen.
One thing is for certain, the Canes will need to be more physical than they have been in the last 2 games if they want to come out of CowTown with 2 points. They’ve been a little soft on the opposition, especially when it came to clearing their net front. This was particularly prominent on Wednesday night when the Hitmen were able to whack away at pucks time and time again in front of Jayden Sittler.
The Canes will also need to clean up their zone exits to get their transition game going (see last night’s post game report from Brock Boot for more on this). Speed often kills in hockey and the Canes had that in spades on Sunday afternoon in Calgary. There you have it I guess. The blueprint for victory exists and is readily available. Lethbridge needs to repeat what they did on Sunday, minus a couple of mistakes, and they can further secure their grip on the Central Division as we head towards playoffs.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: This one will be a back and forth affair with both teams seizing momentum for stretches throughout. The Canes will be the hungrier team after getting embarrassed a little on Wednesday and come out with a 5-3 W.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Jayden Sittler will be SUPER motivated in this one and will kick aside 30+ shots.
NOT SO OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The 2 Canes fan buses in attendance will demand free tacos for the goal output; however, with no Taco Bells in direct proximity the fans will grow restless. Due to vociferous output of the Canes fans the Dome staff will attempt to settle them down with free pocket dogs. All will be well.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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Professional student, prospective teacher. Red Wings/Blue Jays/49ers super-fan. Proud general manager of Team Mono and the Slumlords in a pair of fantasy hockey keeper leagues. Is there anything better than soup and sandwich? Twitter: @jsvsakamoto.