GDB R1G4 WRAP UP: SISYPHUS
(Photo Credit: Keith Hershmiller)
Pardon me for a moment while I go all history geek in this wrap up, but it’s what I went to school for so you’re just going to have to bear with me. While the name Sisyphus may not be the most well known, his tale is legendary. According to Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the ancient king of Ephyra (modern day Corinth). He had it all. Wealth. Power. Fame.
However, his use of trickery and deceit greatly angered the pantheon of gods leading to his eternal fate. Sisyphus is said to be tasked with pushing a large boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down, over and over again, for all time. That’s got to be what playing the Pats feels like for the Canes over the course of the last 3 games. We wrap below.
The interest level for this game was heightened long before puck drop as the Canes coaches made a variety of lineup changes in an effort to jump start the team while simultaneously dealing with injury and suspension woes heading into tonight’s action. The Lethbridge got the first powerplay of the game just :34 seconds in when Lane Zablocki got whistled for hooking down Brayden Burke.
The Canes did a solid job of gaining the zone; however, they were unable to generate any offence through an aggressive Pats’ penalty kill. Lethbridge would go on a penalty kill of their own shortly after – a tripping call to Drayton Thunder Chief – who was making his WHL playoff debut. During the PK, Giorgio Estpehan would break in all alone looking for a short-handed goal in a second consecutive game, but Pats’ goalie Tyler Brown managed to kick out his left pad and stop Estephan’s deke attempt.
The Pats would get on the board in the period’s final minute. Sam Steel would feed Cole Sanford who was driving hard to the net. Simply put, Sanford would out muscle Igor Merezkho (despite Sanford giving up over 6 inches and 50+ pounds) and slide a rolling puck through Jayden Sittler. That’s how the period would end – with the Pats up 1-0. Lethbridge would outshoot Regina 14-8.
Early in the period the action was largely limited to the outside as both teams were checking hard. Brett Davis would put everyone on the edge of their seats with a phenomenal forehand to backhand move on the rush, but Brown held position and kept the puck out. Just after the mid-period break, Pats’ rear guard Connor Hobbs would ring one off the crossbar directly off the faceoff.
Kord Pankewicz had a glorious chance on a wide open net mere moments later but was unable to pull the trigger as he was pinching down. The Canes would see their best chances of the period on a delayed penalty late in the second. With the extra skater on they generated numerous chances including a post for the Captain. The Canes would carry that momentum into the PP, but just couldn’t filter pucks through to the net despite maintaining the zone for much of the 2 minutes.
Austin Wagner would go in all alone with under a minute in the period, but he chipped it over-top of the net. The second period would end the same as the first, with Regina up 1-0. The Pats outshot the Canes 14-7 in the 2nd frame.
Lethbridge would come close to tying early in the 3rd following a Regina turnover in the neutral zone. Babenko and Lindgren would break in 2 on 1, Babs would feed Ryley for the one timer, but once again Brown would kick out the pad to prevent a goal. From there the Canes would start to mount some pressure resulting in as much extended zone time as the team has seen since the opening period of game 3.
The Canes were finally forcing turnovers by the Pat defenders leading to scoring chances, but the majority of the chances were of the one and done variety. Adam Brooks (who else would it be) would ice this one for the Pats with 1:12 left on an empty net goal from 150 feet away. That would be all she wrote. The Pats would skate away with a 2-0 victory and a commanding 3-1 series lead.
- Ben Dupperault continues to impress by, skating hard, bringing a consistent effort, and has been one of the more effective forecheckers for the Canes.
- Brady Reagan continued his stellar play against his old team. He was a force in his own zone throughout – including robbing Pats forward Lane Zablocki of a sure goal in the first. Reagan really stood out tonight and was probably the best player on the ice for the Canes.
- Lethbridge did a great job of playing disciplined hockey tonight. They kept their emotions in check and did a much better job of taking care of their sticks in comparison to game 3.
THE NOT SO GOOD
- Two goals in the last 180 minutes of hockey = yikes.
- The Pats largely dictated the flow for the 3rd consecutive game. The majority of this series has been played on the Regina’s terms. This has included stifling the Canes cross ice passes after crossing the offensive blueline. The Pats wingers are on the Canes forwards immediately ensuring there is no space to make any kind of a play. Lethbridge has had no answer for this over the last 3 games.
- I don’t like to call out individual players, but Merezkho’s play on the Sanford goal was the definition of soft defence. Sometimes you’ve just got to put a guy on his backside, especially when you’re considerably bigger than him.
- The 5 on 5 offence is largely non-existent. Credit where its due to the Pats’ defenders, but the Canes have to find a way to get something going.
THIS AND THAT
- It pains me a great deal to say this, but you’ve got to hand it to Pats’ goalie Tyler Brown. He talked a big game following the win in game 3, but he backed up his words with stellar play tonight. He was a difference maker for Regina easily playing his best game of the series.
This section is becoming a bit of a common refrain over the course of the last few games. The Pats have executed their game plan to a tee and have 3 consecutive victories to show for it. The Canes played a better defensive game tonight as they limited Regina’s chances throughout. However, the bigger story from a Canes’ perspective is the totally dried up offence. This is a team that has thrived all year long on being a high octane squad that makes you pay for the slightest mistake.
In this series the Canes have been unable to force the Pats into making many mistakes (outside of game one). Add to this an inability to manufacture offence, be it in the form of a deflection or a dirty goal off a skate, and you have a very large hole for the Canes to crawl out of. It’s been the very definition of an uphill struggle, hence the tie in to old man Sisyphus.
Things aren’t feeling so good in Canes land right now. We’ve watched our team get consistently outplayed for 3 consecutive games now. Are the Hurricanes dead? By no means, they still have a fighting chance, but they will need to turn the tables quickly in game 5 and make a statement to the Pats’ bench. They cannot, I repeat cannot, allow Tyler Brown to be right about the Canes collapsing under the pressure of a 3-1 deficit.
If motivation is needed, simply put that quote up on the bulletin board in the room. One thing is for certain heading into game 5, the Canes need the fans to come out in droves and be loud and proud. Let’s get the ENMAX rocking like it was in game one in effort to send this series back to Regina. It’s the beauty of junior hockey. Emotions run high and whole series can change on a dime. Here’s hoping that’s exactly what goes down on Friday. Let us know what you think? Can the Canes get back into this one or are they doomed to agony like Sisyphus before them? Tell us below.