GDB 60.0 WRAP UP: Losses Mount
(Photo Credit: Tyler Mikla)
It was a close game, but when all was said and done, the Hurricanes once again found themselves on the losing side.
The game was barely ten seconds old before the Canes found themselves short handed. Lethbridge was able to kill off the early hooking penalty to Andrew Nielsen, and not long after, Darian Skeoch and Keegan Kanzig renewed acquaintances. Both fighters got some ‘licks in before Skeoch lost his footing and the linesmen had to step in.
Tyler Wong was called for a minor just after the midway mark of the opening frame and it proved costly. A hard point shot from Sanheim resulted in a rebound and Stukel made no mistake. 1 – 0 Hitmen.
Both teams took too many minor penalties over the opening period. There were five minors assessed in total – two to Calgary and three to Lethbridge – and while only one goal was scored – they were both playing with fire. The period ended with a glorious Sanheim rush and a couple great stops by Sittler.
The second period opened with a giveaway from Lethbridge and a second goal for Stukel. It was unassisted at the 1:00 mark and you could see deflation on the part of the Canes and their two bus loads of fans. As such, it was all the more notable when Ryan Vandervlis banged one home in a goalmouth scramble before the halfway mark of the game.
The goal breathed fresh life into a Hurricanes team in desperate need of a jolt. Calgary had carried the play for much of the game and you could see the tide turn. Lethbridge would pressure the Hitmen for the remainder of the period, but no more goals would come.
Things got worse for the visitors early in the third when Hitmen rookie Dawson Martin took advantage of a defensive lapse and scored short side on Sittler. It was one of those goals where a handful of players got caught out of position and Martin had far too much time and space.
Lethbridge would make things interesting when Cory Millette scored his 26th goal of the season 7:37 seconds into the final frame. The puck took a few bounces and deflections before finding it’s way into the net, but it pulled Lethbridge to within one and kept fans on both sides on the edge of their seats.
It came down to the bitter end, and with Sittler on the bench for the extra attacker, Tyler Wong had a glorious chance in the final seconds. Amundrud was there to get a shoulder on the high shot and the Hitmen walked away with the win.
- The Hurricanes were far more physically engaged in this game than their previous two though probably still an something they need to work on. Folk and Davis stood out to me as guys going out of their way to finish checks.
- Nick Watson made a return to the lineup. Happy to see his injuries weren’t too serious.
- Not enough offensive pressure by Lethbridge. They had only registered ten shots by the midway mark of the game, a somewhat alarming trend when viewed in light of the other games they played this week. Nik Amundrud simply wasn’t required to come up with huge game-breaking stops because those chances just never existed.
- Brayden Burke left the game and didn’t return. Not good. Not good at all…
- I forgot to plug my laptop in before the trip so the post game article is far shorter and later than normal. Sorry everyone.
THIS AND THAT
- Jer and I took the fan bus to the game. It was a great chance for us to catch up, chat about the site, hockey, and music. Great time.
- Shout out to Tamara and Kathy for their work organizing the buses and keeping things running smooth. *two thumbs up*
I’m not really sure where to go with this game. On one hand, the team played better than they did against Portland, and is WAS a pretty close game. That said, it was a loss, and frankly, there are some disturbing trends that are beginning to cause substantial issues for the club.
The team has lost its ability to establish a strong cycle game. Whether it’s simply injuries or something more methodological, the Hurricanes really struggled to get meaningful zone time. Part of the issue is that they just haven’t been winning enough faceoffs. I understand they are missing their top two centres, but the issue remains. This is a Canes team that’s best defense is a commanding offense. With less possession and puck pressure than ever, the Hurricanes are too easy to play against right now.
Now that the offense has dried up, Lethbridge is being exposed all over the ice. It’s amazing to me how quickly the league’s best offense can turn into what it has of late. Clearly injury has a huge role in the decline, but to a certain extent, you simply need to find a way to grind out goals regardless of who’s in the lineup.
Once again, the Hurricanes were unable to generate many high quality scoring chances and frankly, Nik Amundrud, like Adin Hill before him, had a pretty easy night.
Just as it looked like hope was on the horizon with Gutierrez reportedly getting closer, Brayden Burke apparently sustained an injury last night. As of now, I’ve heard no details, so further speculation is fruitless. We will just have to wait and see. Burke left midway through the game and didn’t return. Whatever happened, it must have been a pretty non-descript play. Neither Jer or I caught the incident (if there was even one) and I am just as curious as every other Hurricane fan about his status.
Note that the team has just recently listed Drayton Thunder-Chief on their official roster. Look for him to potentially join the team next week if that is indeed the direction they are going to head.
I could go on longer, but at this point what more can be said? The team just doesn’t have the jam we’ve come to expect, and while there are some legitimate reasons for the decline, they will need to find a way to fight through the adversity and get back to winning. Brandon is finding their way and whatever lead the Hurricanes built is evaporating rapidly.
With three days off between games, hopefully we can get some answers on the injured players and the team can take a quick breath before reentering the fray.