GDB 9.0 Wrap Up: MAKING HAY
Once again the Hurricanes managed to get the job done tonight. It was a much more cohesive win than their previous against Regina but the Broncos made things interesting. Both teams played the game they intended to play but on this occasion, it was Lethbridge that skated away with the win.
Full recap and analysis after the break.
The game started with a blistering pace. Both teams seemed well rested and eager to get at it. The first few minutes seemed to fly by with chances at both ends. The energy level was further escalated thanks to an early fight between Skeoch and Chaulk. Both players got some shots in and wound up tangled together on the ice. The Hurricanes really carried the play for the next ten minutes or so. By the halfway mark, Lethbridge led in shots 6 – 1. The shot differential was thanks in-part to a Hurricane’s powerplay that looked dangerous but couldn’t get a goal.
The second half of the period saw play even out. The Broncos started collapsing more effectively in their own zone and limiting the Hurricanes shots from high percentage shooting areas. Thanks to a fortuitous bounce of Kord Pankewicz’s toe, the Broncos took the lead mid-way. The goal came a few moments after Egor Babenko was unable to finish a great passing play at the side of the Bronco’s goal. I wouldn’t fault either Sittler or Pankewicz on the Broncos goal. It was a strange play on which Lindgren got caught chasing the puck too deep by a fraction, allowing DeBrusk to spin and fire low along the ice.
It was a great period of hockey to watch. Both teams traded some chances, were skating really hard, and the passion was evident. After one, Swift led 1 – 0 and the Canes were up 11 – 10 on the shot clock.
The second period was less eventual. The first ten minutes went by in a flash with neither team managing a goal. The refs were letting the players play tonight and the result was a game with great flow. Both teams were generating chances but the finish just wasn’t there. The Hurricanes were guilty of thinking pass on too many odd man rushes and the Broncos did a great job of eliminating feeds. Lethbridge did finally get a pass through on a somewhat broken 2 – 1 rush. Tyler Wong was able to saucer pass through the Broncos defender to Estephan who deflected it past a sprawling Bow. The teams continued to trade chances for the remainder of the period but it would finish tied at 1’s. Lethbridge held the shot advantage after forty. 22 – 17.
The third period was exciting. While Lethbridge did manage more zone time than did Swift Current, things opened up and the Broncos found themselves in on more odd man rushes. Just over eight minutes into the period Egor Babenko turned off of a faceoff scrum and rifled a laser beam of a shot into the far corner of the net to put Lethbridge up 2 – 1. It looked like the game would end that way with the Hurricanes threatening on a late powerplay, but the ill-advised decision to avoid getting the puck deep at the Bronco blueline led to a shorthanded breakaway for Bruins prospect Jake DeBrusk. DeBrusk managed to place a perfect shot low blocker on Sittler despite a valiant effort by Atwal to get a stick in the lane. The third would end with the score tied at 3.
To say 3 on 3 overtime was a blur would be an understatement. Both teams were playing all-out for the win. The crowd was loving it. The Broncos looked like they would score on two early occasions before the Brayden Burke broke in on a 2 on 0 from centre. Burke was thinking pass the whole way, and much to the chagrin of the solid Friday night crowd, the puck sat harmlessly in front of Bow. Seconds later, Sittler would make a massive breakaway save before Egor Babenko saucered a pass to Ryley Lindgren on a 2 – 1 the other way for the game-winning goal.
- The Swift Current logo and jersey update was a fantastic idea. Much like the Pats sharp new look, it’s a perfect blend of vintage and modern. Iconic colours and classic hockey horizontal stripes. Nice job Broncos!
- The Wong line is effective at generating chances because of its relentless forecheck. Wong, Bellerive, and Estephan all skate so hard in both directions that opposing teams are forced into turnovers. It’s a characteristic of the whole team, but it’s embodied most concisely in the top line.
- Andrew Nielsen is pretty exceptional on the opposition blue-line. Nielsen has the ability to manage the puck so well from the point that it opens lanes all over the ice. His raw ability to leap for high clearing attempts and his proficiency at using his feet to hold the zone are unmatched amongst the roster. He didn’t get too many chances to unleash that accurate slapper, but Nielsen remains a force on the powerplay.
- Without fail, Lethbridge has proven to be a creative team this season. Through nine games, I would struggled to name a game where they didn’t out chance the opposition. It hasn’t always translated to goals, but in some ways, creating chances is a better indicator of sustainable offense.
- For the most part, the Hurricanes played a solid defensive game. Guys like Kennedy, Skeoch, Merezhko, and Reagan all played consistent, nondescript games. I mean that in the best way possible. Skeoch got involved with a nice fight early and did exactly what he needed to do all night. It’s important that the coaches can throw defensemen over the boards in all situations and know more often than not they are going to get a good showing.
- Jayden Sittler was once again exactly what the Hurricanes needed. He didn’t need to be extraordinary, but he did what he needed to do all night. The DeBrusk goal with four minutes remaining was a perfect low blocker shot on a clear cut breakaway and Sittler was sure to answer back in OT with a massive breakaway save.
- The Hurricanes didn’t shoot enough tonight (Babenko snipe excluded). The lack of shots wasn’t for a lack of opportunities as they were creating turnovers and odd man rushes with consistency. The root of the shots issue may go deeper than just one game. While it is by no means a fatal flaw, this squad is largely made up of pass first players. The top six, in particular, is composed of highly skilled players that like to pass. The good news is that they are good at passing and making plays. It’s helped them be amongst the top teams in goal scoring. The danger is it can detract from shooting. When opposing teams expect the pass on a Hurricanes break, the defenders will learn they can cheat by not needing to respect the shooter. The end result is that opposing teams have an easier time defending. Again, let me stress this is not a fatal flaw, but it may need to change as teams catch on.
- The Hurricanes were once again guilty of some undisciplined penalties. The Nielsen and Gutierrez slashing penalties in the third are the perfect example. The Hurricanes have proven to have an effective penalty kill, and even lead the league in shorthanded goals, but it’s a bad idea to keep taking flat out dumb penalties in the offensive zone.
- Allowing Jake DeBrusk a shorthanded breakaway with five minutes remaining is bad right?
THIS AND THAT:
- Having the Jays game on the jumbotron was a really nice touch. I know there were people that really appreciated it.
- Landon Bow played really solid game. He’s a big goaltender and did a great job limiting unnecessary movement. He made some unintentionally great saves, an indicator of solid positioning.
- The Broncos clearly have some exceptional top end talent but the drop off is steep. Gawdin, Martin, and DeBrusk gave the Hurricanes fits all night but not many chances came via the Broncos secondary scoring lines. I still expect them to hang around though. They play a solid two-way game. Will be interesting to see what moves they make at the deadline.
- 3 on 3 overtime is pure unadulterated insanity. It’s amazing. Without a doubt, the loudest cheers of the night came in overtime and it was clear that the fans loved it.
- I liked the coaching decision to call a timeout on the Davis icing in the second. The game was tied and the Hurricanes were clearly gassed. It all worked out in the end. Coaches sometimes have a tendency to hold onto their timeouts until too late in the game. Sometimes a key moment can be earlier in the game.
With the win, the Hurricanes finished a favorable early season schedule with resounding success. Thier record improves to 7-2-0-0. They now head out on a gruelling western road trip. Barring a catastrophic breakdown, the Hurricanes have set themselves up brilliantly for a fantastic month of October. Thus far at least, everything is coming up roses in Lethbridge – a welcome change and one that the faithful fans deserve.
Enjoy it Hurricanes fans. They say you need to make hay while the sun shines. Mission accomplished.