By Woodard, Dale on February 19, 2020.
The Lethbridge midget AAA Hurricanes had been held to seven shots early in the second period.
Fortunately for them, four of them found the back of the net.
The Canes opened their Alberta Midget Hockey League playoff run with a 4-1 win over the Okotoks Bow Mark Oilers Tuesday night at the Logan Boulet Arena for a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five opening-round series.
Cole Larocque scored the first two Hurricane goals and added an assist, while Nolan Price and Colby Garner also scored.
Ian Maier added two assists and at the other end, Canes goaltender Ty Young only surrendered one goal in the second period before the teams skated through a scoreless third.
Game 2 goes Thursday in Okotoks at 6:30 p.m. before Game 3 returns to the Logan Boulet Arena Friday, also at 6:30 p.m.
On Tuesday night, the quick start set the table for the hosts.
“In a series it’s all about momentum and we came out early and gained some momentum,” said Hurricanes head coach Sean Gillam. “After the game got going they started pushing back a little bit, but all-in-all I’m pretty happy with the outcome.”
Larocque got things rolling, giving the Canes the early 2-0 lead and netting the eventual game-winner.
“It was good to start it off well,” he said. “We stuck to our game plan and did what we had to do to get through the game.
“It gives the boys the momentum to just go out there and do your job.”
After Price and Garner upped the lead to 4-0 early in the second, Okotoks cut the lead to 4-1 midway through the second.
The Hurricanes were held off the scoresheet the rest of the way, but the quick start was more than enough insurance for the series-opening win.
“There was probably a little bit of nerves and some excitement, too, and it’s always nice to get rewarded for a good start,” said Gillam. “Even after the quick one we kept pushing and we got another one and we just didn’t let off the gas. That was the key tonight.”
The physical tempo and some tempers flared in the late stages of the game.
Given the time of the season, Larocque wasn’t shocked.
“It’s lot of fun of there,” he said. “(The pace) was a lot higher than the regular season, a lot more on the line.”
The Canes’ forward expects more of the same when Game 2 heads to Okotoks Thursday night.
“Exact same game, except in their barn,” said Larocque. “So they might have a little bit of an advantage. But we still have to do the same thing.”
“It’s not a surprise,” added Gillam. “They’re a hard-working team, they skate well and they’re physical, too. We knew it was going to be a physical series and it’s going to be one of those series where you have to get pucks in behind, get in those dirty areas and win those one-on-one battles.”
If necessary, Game 4 will be back in Okotoks Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Game 5 will be Tuesday at the Logan Boulet Arena at 6:30 p.m.
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