GDB 64.0 WRAP UP: FRESH COAT
You know when a room just isn’t doing it for you anymore? You’ve rearranged the furnishings, opened and closed the blinds, looked longingly through Ikea’s online store… and eventually realize you need to just fully commit to a total overhaul. Once you’ve wrapped your mind around the workload, it’s actually kinda fun.
Things haven’t been so bad in Lethbridge over the last few games that talk of dramatic change is needed. Sometimes all a room needs is a ‘lick of fresh paint to spice things up and get your home right where you want it.
Perhaps the team was just hungry, determined, or otherwise motivated. It’s possible they just matchup well against the Warriors. Really, it could’ve been any number of reasons.
All that matters now is the Hurricanes played themselves a wonderful hockey game and earned themselves a great win.
In their case it wasn’t a room that got fresh paint – it was a goal mask.
The two teams went back and forth for the first bit of the 1st. There was good flow and the Canes took the early shots lead, but a slashing penalty to Nielsen would give the Warriors the first crack with the man advantage. Brett Howden was able to deflect the puck into the goal with his skate while skating through the crease. The goal would be reviewed but was upheld. 1 – 0 Moose Jaw.
Overall it was a great opening frame for both teams. There were no more goals scored but you got the feeling like it was going to be a great hockey game. Both sides were engaged, making some nice plays, and generally looking good. Much like previous meetings this season, the play style between the Canes and Warriors was best described as “well contested”.
The second period was all Hurricanes. Andrew Nielsen walked down the left lane and powered a shot through Sawchenko’s trapper. The Warriors netminder got most of it but his glovehand pulled back and the puck fluttered out and into the goal. On the very next shift Egor Babenko delivered a great drop pass to Millette on the rush and the overager ripped it pasted Sawchenko.
Moments later, the Hurricanes were pressing and drew a delay of game penalty. On the ensuing powerplay, Arvin Atwal was smart to recognize a perfect screen from Bellerive and fired a low wrister on-goal. Millette got his stick on it and put Lethbridge up 3 – 1. They weren’t done there.
Late in the 2nd Brayden Point was robbed in the high slot by Skinner. Lethbridge was able to turn the play up ice quickly, and on a great feed from Wong, Burke broke in on a breakaway. Brayden fired the puck in-stride low blocker and through Zach Sawchenko for the 4 – 1 lead.
The Warriors did push the Hurricanes for stretches in the 3rd, but Stuart Skinner rose to the occasion. It wasn’t a smothering period by the home team, but they did create the lion’s share of the chances. Skinner was sensational and it totally suffocated Moose Jaw. The Warriors would pull Sawchenko in the dying minutes but in the end it only provided Cory Millette with an empty net goal – his third tally of the night.
- The team played a complete game from start to finish. Huge credit to all of them for a great effort. It translated all over the ice.
- Arvin Atwal was the team’s best defenseman tonight. He was doing it all. Creating and rushing in the offensive zone as well as being responsible and efficient in his own zone. He was generally a thorn in the side of the Warriors and particularly Brayden Point. Well done Arvin.
- Cory Millette got himself his (I believe) first career hat trick! Congrats to him! Millette scored the game winning goal on a hard wrister from the circle and followed it up with a deflection goal on the PP and an empty netter short handed in the 3rd. He’s been a beast against the Warriors this season and was one of the team’s better forwards tonight. Millette was assessed 2nd star on the evening.
- Stuart Skinner was STUpendous tonight (cringe…. I couldn’t resist). But actually… he was great. Top notch rebound control. Made some tough saves look easy. Totally not to be blamed for the game’s opening goal and was a key part of the back-breaking Burke goal in the 2nd. Skinner fully deserved the 1st star and he got it.
- Once again the Hurricanes gave up the first goal. It’s been happening more and more of late. The good news is they’ve been able to come from behind in two straight games. It would just be good to see them start with the lead and carry on from there. Not the end of the world, just an area for improvement.
THIS AND THAT
- Atwal has gotten under the skin of the Warriors. It probably started back in Lethbridge when he leveled Point with a clean hit. Point was out for a few games afterwards. Atwal hit him with another clean hard hit in the 1st period and McNuty took exception. It was fun to see him interact with Warriors as the game progressed.
- Skinner has himself a new mask! I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with the artwork on masks. I have since I was a 6 year old spending countless hours with crayons and pencils drawing on printed off mask templates. I love this kind of stuff. It was really hard to make out the specifics due to the poor quality of the feed, but the overall look from afar is great. His old design was primarily on a white background. This new one has far more red and features more of the team logo. I would love to see and/or share photos of the artwork. So if the artist, an equipment manager, or Stu himself is reading this… hit us up if you’re okay with showing that thing off a little with some photos.
There’s a lot that could be said about this game, but at the same time I think it can be easily boiled down. The Hurricanes played arguably their most complete 60 minute effort since their road victory over Calgary a few weeks ago. From beginning to end, the Hurricanes never had a bad stretch of hockey. There were certainly stretches where the Warriors were the better team, but that was mainly to their credit and not due to poor play by the visitors.
This one really came down to the 2nd period. Sure there were big plays in the 1st and 3rd, but this game was won (or lost depending on your perspective) in the middle frame. The Hurricanes were simply better than the Warriors for the first ten minutes of the 2nd and in that time, scored 3 goals.
Beyond the opening half of the frame, I felt that the final five minutes of the 2nd were the most crucial of the evening. The Warriors were turning it on, and had they gotten a late goal, I’m confident it would have dramatically changed the tone heading into the 3rd. Instead, Skinner made a massive stop and seconds later Burke extended the lead to 4 – 1. Try as they might in the 3rd, the Warriors dug themselves too deep a hole.
We talked in this mornings pre-game about the need for the Canes to regain their form in these final games more than focus on points alone. After a rough five games and a somewhat sloppy (but good) 8-4 win over Edmonton Saturday, tonight’s game was brilliant. It was everything you could have asked from the team. They played a smart, structured road game, and at no point did they look in over their heads. They didn’t needlessly make risky plays. They paid attention to the details and the results were there as the reward.
This was the best game I’ve seen the Hurricanes play in a very long time and it’s an encouraging sign of what’s to come. I can’t think of a better way to kick off an Eastern road trip. The team is in Saskatoon on Friday and Prince Albert Saturday.
Look for Giorgio Estephan to make his return this weekend. He was a game time decision tonight and I think they will have to chain him up if he doesn’t crack the lineup in the next couple of games. I can only imagine he is beyond excited to get back.