GDB 68.0 WRAP UP: THE THING

  • Brock Boot

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The Thing (also known as John Carpenter’s The Thing) is a 1982 American science fiction horror film. The film’s title refers to its primary antagonist: a parasitic extraterrestrial lifeform that assimilates other organisms and in turn imitates them. The Thing infiltrates an Antarctic research station, taking the appearance of the researchers that it absorbs, and paranoia develops within the group.

Does that read like a wikipedia entry? Good. Because it is. It might not be a perfect analogy, but regardless, I’m gonna tie the two together.

It’s one thing to beat up on a good team that’s still working to build its identity early in the season. It’s another thing to again beat that team after it injected a vast array of new talent at the WHL trade deadline without time to ‘gel’. Finally, it’s a whole ‘nother thing to do it for a fifth and defining time at the tail end of the regular season when both team’s should be operating on all cylinders.

My point is we can no longer shrug off the dominance Lethbridge has had over Red Deer. They have a perfect 5-0-0-0 record against the Memorial Cup Host Rebels this season. It’s no longer a coincidence. The Rebel’s are out of excuses. I’m calling it what it is….

It’s a thing…

Plus the Hurricanes may have injected some “paranoia” into the Rebels so there’s that as well. Maybe this analogy works on multiple levels after all? Or maybe it’s 1:40 a.m. as this is being written and, like allot of decisions made around this time of night, there will be regret in the morning.

 

RD-Post-1

It was a gangbusters first period for the home team. The Hurricanes stormed out to a 3 – 0 lead on goals by Millette, Duperreault, and Wong. Millette’s was a redirection on the PP at the 6:29 mark, Duperreault’s was a great individual effort that saw him streak in and snipe far side on Martin at the 10:58 mark, and Wong’s was a greasy crash the net PP efort at the 13:20 mark.

Red Deer would get one back when the puck momentarily crossed the line under a sprawled out Skinner. The Rebel’s had taken a shot from the point that turned into a rebound and was eventually jammed across the line. Skinner was almost able to hold it in (some what on accident) and, while review was needed, it was determined to have crossed the line. I wasn’t sure they would have conclusive evidence but, upon seeing the replay, it seemed like the right call to award the goal.

With the Rebel’s having cut the lead to 3 – 1, the Hurricanes focused-in and generated another before the end of the frame. This time it was Kord Pankewicz who found the net. The Luduc native took a great drop pass from Ryley Lindgren and, with Calen Addison serving as a distraction in front, fired a wrister through Rebel backup Dawson Weatherill to restore the three goal cushion.The Canes led in 16-14 in the shots department and 4-1 on the scoreboard after 20.

 

RD-Post-2

In the second, the Hurricanes picked up right where they left off. With Trevor Martin back  between the pipes for Red Deer and shortly after killing off the remainder of a delay of game penalty, Arvin Atwal, like Kord Pankewicz before him, picked up a nice drop pass, skated right into the slot (uncontested), and fired the puck into the top corner to put Lethbridge up 5 – 1. The goal came at the 5:21 mark of the 2nd. Left winger Braden Purtill got caught defending on the play and served up far too much time and space to Atwal. The overager made no mistake.

The Pankewicz and Atwal goals really seemed to demoralize the Rebels. They looked discombobulated and off-kilter. Close to ten minutes after Atwal scored to make it 5-1, Tyler Wong would score off a rebound at the side of net and extend the Canes lead to five goals.

Red Deer was gifted a golden opportunity to claw back into the game when Igor Merezhko was (somewhat controversially) assessed a 4 minute major for high sticking. There wasn’t a penalty called on the initial play, but upon seeing the damage to Spacek’s face, the officials retroactively assessed a major penalty to the big Ukraine.

 

RD-Post-3

Stuart Skinner made some big stops and was the team’s best penalty killer. Further, it was actually the Hurricanes own Giorgio Estephan that generated the best scoring chance on the 2nd period segment of the 4 minute major. Estephan had a shorthanded breakaway but was denied by the pad when he tried to shoot low-blocker. The save held the Hurricanes to a 6-1 lead after 40.

The 3rd period was clinical from a Lethbridge perspective. The Rebel’s sniffed around but it never really went beyond that. Skinner was at his best in the 3rd – numerous times flashing the leather to calmly deny a Rebel attacker – and in turn – frustrating the opposition to no end. Thanks to some huge late game shot blocking by the heart and soul Carter Folk, Skinner only ever surrendered the one goal. Kord Pankewicz dropped the mitts with Jake DeBrusk with just over 2 minutes remaining. The Rebel sniper got a few blows in early but eventually wore a few hard shots from Kord before falling to the ice.

When the dust finally settled, the Hurricanes had earned a hard fought 6-1 victory and moved another game closer to securing the Central Division title.    

 

 

 

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GOOD

  • The Hurricanes won! I mean… hells ya! One game closer to putting a bow on the division title. Worst to first baby!
  • Beating the Rebels is extra special for some reason. It’s everything about them that makes it so great. It’s the history of so many players and their ties to Red Deer. It’s Sutter. It’s the Memorial Cup… it’s just…. great *swoon*.
  • Stuart Skinner is red hot right now. You couldn’t ask for better timing either. His glove hand and rebound control were particularly locked-in tonight. Plus it was cool to see his new mask in person (if you’ve been following the site you will have already seen pics a week or two ago).  
  • Arvin Atwal was arguably the team’s best defender tonight. He is so incredibly smooth. Arvin’s a naturally gifted skater. Tonight he was picking his spots, patient, generating chances, and generally creating space for himself and his teammates. Those spin moves aren’t for flash. Those are smart plays that open up lanes and put defenders on their heels. Arvin was the force behind Millette’s opening goal and made a great shot on his own. Overall, thumbs up to Atwal for a stellar performance.
  • Kord Pankewicz is the man. I’ve been saying it all year and I’ll keep saying it because it’s the truth. This guy is the definitive warrior. He’s battled bumps and bruises for weeks yet consistently goes out and puts it on the line every shift. I loved watching him throw down with DeBrusk in the 3rd, but not as much as I loved watching him drop an energized bomb through a toothless grin after scoring. Heart and soul.

 

 

 

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LESS GOOD

  • I couldn’t find anywhere to set up my laptop because every single spot at the “rail” was taken. Can everyone just stay home and stop having fun please? Yeesh. Everything was better for bloggers when the team only won 10 games per year.

 

THIS AND THAT

  • Massive crowd tonight! It was a stellar environment. People were having fun, the team was winning, funds were raised, pucks were chucked, and when all was said and done, there was over 5K people in the building.
  • The special teams were a huge reason the Hurricanes won. I know Rebels fans may not have loved Bleackley’s goaltender interference penalty (it led to Millette’s goal), but the reality is that Lethbridge was just better than Red Deer in the special teams department. The Hurricanes were 2/3  and the Rebels were 0/5. You can point at reffing all you want, but you can’t deny that Red Deer simply failed to execute on their chances.
  • It was great to meet so many people I’ve had the chance to interact with on social media in the flesh. You all know who you are. It’s great when the digital world bring people together.
  • Shout-out to the players as they were barraged by a MASSIVE line up fans looking for autographs. I stayed for well over an hour after the game and the line was still strong. Great that they do it but I can imagine it’s draining. Good on ‘em.
  • Calen Addison looks right at home. Blown away by how smooth he is. Injury appears to be well behind him. He spent most of his (limited) ice time skating with Arvin Atwal. The future is bright Canes fans.
  • Sounds like Josh Tarzwell is in town and will probably draw into the lineup somewhere down the line.

 

CONCLUSIONS

Are you convinced the Hurricanes dominance of Red Deer is something worth mentioning yet?

I would be hard pressed to come up with a legitimate, glaring, “bad” tonight. There just wasn’t much “bad” on the ice for Lethbridge. It was, undeniably, one of their most complete 60 minute games in the last two months, and arguably of the entire season. From top to bottom the Hurricanes came out and executed better than Red Deer did. They were the better team – though not by the margin that the score may suggest.

The Rebel’s didn’t get any help from their goaltenders tonight. I understand they don’t have their ace in the lineup, but facts are fact, Martin and Weatherill were outmatched by Skinner and it showed. There were a couple of goals I’m not sure Toth would have surrendered, particularly those that came on second or third opportunities (see Wong’s second as an example). I’m sure Martin is capable of helping the team win some games but is he a guy that can steal his team a game? If he is, it isn’t an ability that was on display tonight.

Systemically, the Hurricanes implemented and executed a near perfect game. Either the Rebels’ coaches were incapable of making the right adjustments or the players were unable of executing them, but either way, Lethbridge employed a precise set of tactics with great success. Red Deer wasn’t able to counter.

One example of tactics that stood out to me was the stifling pressure Canes defenders placed on the Rebel wingers. Lethbridge made breakouts very difficult for Red Deer thanks to active, and yes, somewhat risky, defensive pressure at the point. There were countless occasions where the Rebel’s were unable to get the puck out of their zone because a Hurricane defender had stepped up on the Rebel winger along the boards and caused a turnover.

When the tactic goes wrong it can lead to odd-man-rushes the other way. That doesn’t seem to be an issue against Red Deer. The Rebel’s aren’t fast enough. They aren’t capable (or at least haven’t proven capable against LET) of creating adequate separation from Hurricane defenders when attacking on the rush. A smooth skater like Arvin Atwal is almost always able to recover and defend after making an aggressive play at the opposing team’s blue line. We’ve seen the Canes get ruthlessly exposed when this high pressure system breaks down or faces teams with equal or greater speed (aka. Regina and/or Kelowna). I’m not convinced the Rebels have the horses to counter it head-on.   

On the offensive side of the puck, Lethbridge employed drop passes with cold-blooded efficiency on both the Pankewicz and Atwal goals. They were almost mirror images of one another in that regard. I think it’s worth noting how those goals developed because those two goals were the proverbial “nail in the coffin” for the visitors. The Rebels simply allowed the Hurricanes way too much time and space. When you don’t have a goaltender that can always make the first save, things get out of hand quickly.   

It will be extremely interesting to see how the Rebels respond after tonight’s loss. I can’t help but think that this is a somewhat demoralizing defeat. Listening to the pregame show on Rock 106, Rebels Associate Coach Jeff Truitt had an interesting conversation with Dustin Forbes. Truitt talked about how the Rebel’s really feel that they are a different club than they were for any of the previous losses against Lethbridge. I got the feeling he believed that his team was a far cry from the team that lost it’s first 4 games to Lethbridge.

I’m not sure if that’s something they talked about internally but I have to wonder what they players and coaches are feeling now. Throw the talk of team composition, ‘gelling’, and chemistry out the window. If you’re Red Deer, you traded for some of the league’s best players and, at least against Lethbridge, you have nothing to show for it.

‘The Thing’ is real.

Will it play into their psych tomorrow? How can it not and how will it translate onto the ice? Join us in the morning for our preview and again during the game for our live Tweets and post game breakdown. Jeremy from Canes Domain will be making the trek to the Centrium for the game and will have you covered with both pre and post game analysis.   

 

 

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