By Jensen, Randy on April 12, 2018.
Lethbridge Herald – Brandon, MAN.
A quick start earned the Lethbridge Hurricanes a crucial split in Brandon.
The Canes topped the Brandon Wheat Kings 7-4 in Game 4 of the teams’ Western Hockey League Eastern Conference semifinal series Wednesday night at Westoba Place in Brandon.
With the win, the Hurricanes grab a commanding 3-1 series lead and are in position to close out the series in Game 5 at the Enmax Centre Friday at 7 p.m.
On Wednesday, Lethbridge blazed out of the gate with a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The Wheat Kings didn’t go quietly and cut that lead to 4-3 late in the second period before the Canes took a 5-3 lead after 40 minutes.
But Jake Elmer’s second of the game early in the third and another by Logan Barlage in the final minutes were enough to seal the win for Lethbridge.
More importantly, it was enough to grab the 3-1 series lead after a 5-4 loss to the Wheaties Tuesday.
“It was very important, obviously,” said Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio of his team’s showing in Brandon. “We had a great start tonight and I thought we had everybody going and everybody jumping. Obviously in the second period there was a lot of adversity and we took some penalties. We expected them to push and they pushed hard. But I really liked our response in the third period and how we stuck with it. We got a big goal to get a three-goal lead.”
The visitors lit it up early with playoff leading scorer Brad Morrison leading the way, scoring his ninth of the playoffs 1:50 in.
Lethbridge padded that lead shortly afterward off a three-on-one rush as Elmer took a feed from Morrison and roofed a shot past Brandon goaltender Dylan Myskiw at 5:11.
A little over three minutes later Canes’ Dylan Cozens poked home his fourth of the playoffs off a feed from captain Jordy Bellerive and the offensive floodgates remained open as Morrison added his second of the game for a 4-0 lead.
In a series where 4-0 leads haven’t been safe, the Wheat Kings demonstrated it in the second period.
Brandon scored 3:28 into the second on Marcus Sekundiak’s fifth of the playoffs to cut the lead to 4-1.
After Hurricanes goaltender Logan Flodell stopped Wheat Kings leading scorer Ty Lewis on a penalty shot, Brandon didn’t miss on its next chance as Luka Burzan scored on a scramble with his third goal in two games to halve Lethbridge’s lead to 4-2 6:14 into the second period.
Brandon’s Stelio Mattheos then scored on a delayed call with 7:42 left in the period, but Lethbridge took a two-goal lead into the second intermission on Zane Franklin’s first of the playoffs.
“It’s interesting, you’re up by four and then by the end of the second period you’re up by two and everybody is down a little bit,” said Kisio. “(But) we were up by two goals on the road in a big game and that’s a good spot for us to be in. It was just getting the guys to understand we were in a really good spot, still, and just had to go and do our job.”
Elmer netted his second of the game 1:37 into the third on a breakaway for a 6-3 Canes’ lead, but Brandon pulled back to within two a little under three minutes later on a goal from Lewis.
However, Barlage delivered the dagger with 2:58 to go to wrap up the scoring.
“We were using our speed and guys were flying,” said Elmer. “Brad stepped up big and Barlage stepped up big with a couple of goals. We were just using our speed and I thought we were playing really well. We stuck with our structure (but) got lackadaisical in the second, but I thought we were really good in finishing it out.”
Elmer’s second of the game in the third proved key.
“A team’s not going to quit, it’s playoffs, right? It’s do-or-die,” said Elmer, who has four playoff goals.
“We knew they were going to come in that second period and we just got away from our game. We got back to it, played our structure and then in the third period we got a quick goal and the tides started to slowly turn in our favour. We have to control our emotions, but I think we did a really good job today.”
“Obviously we were hoping to come out with at least a split and it was disappointing last night,” added Bellerive. “But it was a really big win by us tonight and a great finish.”
Morrison and Elmer each added an assist for a three-point night.
Morrison has 10 goals and 26 points in nine games.
Barlage added one helper for a two-point night, while Flodell stopped 27 of 31 shots. Dylan Myskiw made 20 saves in the Brandon net.
Each team was 0-for-2 on the power play.
The Hurricanes go for the series clincher Friday night at home.
“We’ve been great on home ice and we’ve got a lot of confidence there,” said Bellerive. “We’re pretty excited to take it back home.”
NOTES – The Hurricanes and the Lethbridge Hockey Hounds announced Wednesday that all proceeds raised from Friday’s 50/50 draw will be donated to the Humboldt Broncos following their tragedy last Friday.
Tickets for Game 5 went on sale Wednesday morning and can be purchased online by calling 403-329-SEAT (7328) or by visiting the Enmax Centre. For Playoff Package holders, Game 5 will require “Home Game F” tickets. The Enmax Centre Ticket Centre hours are today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday: 9 a.m. to game time.
Wednesday’s announced attendance was 3,244.
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