May 28th, 2024

Canes get past Hitmen in shootout

By Lethbridge Herald on December 9, 2021.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard Calgary Hitmen’s Tyson Galloway and Lethbridge Hurricanes’ Logan Barlage get tangled up as they battle for the puck during WHL action Wednesday night in Lethbridge.

Dale Woodard – Lethbridge Herald –

For the second game in a row, the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Calgary Hitmen decided to stick around a little longer.

And for the second game in a row, it was the Canes who grabbed the extra point following a 3-2 shootout win over the Hitmen in Wednesday night Western Hockey League action at the Enmax Centre.

Hurricanes overage forward Logan Barlage scored the lone goal in the shootout and goaltender Bryan Thomson made 38 saves, including a highlight reel stop in the shootout on Calgary’s Riley Fiddler-Schultz that set the table for Barlage’s winner.

With the win the Hurricanes improve to 10-11-1-0 while the Hitmen are 10-9-2-1.

It’s the second game in a row the team went to a little extra time after the Hurricanes topped the Hitmen 6-5 in overtime Saturday in Calgary.

On a blizzardy night outside the Enmax Centre Wednesday night, the Hurricanes rallied from a two-goal deficit on tallies from Jett Jones in the second period and a power play marker from Justin Hall early in the third and eventually forced overtime and the shootout.

“I don’t think it was our best game,” said Hurricanes’ head coach Brent Kisio. “I think Calgary came out more urgent than we did. I thought the first two periods we couldn’t find our legs and I thought Jones got us going. He got that goal, got us going a bit and we kind of found our legs. In the third period we started to play. We had our chances and the power play stepped up with a big goal.”

The Hitmen provided the lone offence of the first period when Oliver Tulk gained the zone and sent his fourth of the season past Thomson for a 1-0 lead after the first period.

The Hitmen went up 2-0 4:24 into the second when Tulk made no mistake on his second of the game, one-timing feed from Maxim Muranov past Thomson.

The Canes cut that lead in half with a little under six minutes left in the second period when Jones showed a little patience cutting across the centre of the ice and sending a shot past Hitmen goaltender and Taber product Brayden Peters to make it 2-1.

“We just had a good breakout by our defence,” said Jones. “We were focusing on moving the puck up the ice quicker. I got it to (Tristan) Zandee and he did a great job of stepping middle and pushing their defence back. I was just lucky enough to get the inside and get the shot through.”

The Hurricanes started the third period on a four-minute powerplay when David Adaszynski was given a double minor for slew footing Zandee and cashed in when Hall deflected a shot from Logan Wormald past Peters 2:06 in to tie it up.

It was the Hurricanes second four-minute powerplay. In the first period Calgary’s  Sean Tschigerl was handed a double minor, also for slew footing.

“It was huge,” said Kisio of taking advantage of the second four-man advantage. “In our first four-minute (power play ) we weren’t great and we never really got momentum off it and you have to get momentum off of power plays. To start the third period and come out and get a goal like and get momentum, we started to play the way we can play. But we have to be better.”

“That got us going, especially when we missed the first four-minute (power play)” added Jones. “It showed they stepped up, rose to the occasion and the rest of the team followed behind them.”

Hurricanes forward Chase Wheatcroft almost netted the winner with a little over two minutes remaining, but his close-in chance rolled through the crease and stayed out to keep it 2-2.

In overtime, Ty Nash had a chance to be the overtime hero for the second straight game, but couldn’t get his stick on an in-the-crease chance to keep things deadlocked after five minutes of five-on-five overtime.

In the shootout, Hall and Wheatcroft were turned aside by Peters, while Thomson shut the door on Billal Noori and Zac Funk before stretching out to deny Fiddler-Schultz in round three.

That left it up to Barlage, who made no mistake on his chance for the crucial second point that moves the Canes into ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points back of the Swift Current Broncos (10-12-2-1) and Calgary.

“It gave us a chance at the end,” said Kisio of Thomson’s save. “It’s a lot easier to shoot for that win instead of trying to tie it up. It was absolutely a fabulous save by Thommy. That’s what he does and Bar finished the game for us.”

Peters stopped 30 of 32 shots for the Hitmen as Calgary outshot Lethbridge 40-32.

The Hurricanes were 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Hitmen were 0-for-2.

“I think it’s just two teams battling hard,” said Kisio. “It’s a close race this year and we’re fighting for everything we can get right now to get back into that playoff picture and we know it’s a tight race. It’s just two teams that want to win a game. They’re just down the road, so there’s always a bit more of a rivalry there.”

After the top three teams in the Eastern Conference – the 22-3-1-0 Winnipeg Ice, the 19-4-2-1 Edmonton Oil Kings and the 16-9-1-0 Red Deer Rebels – the division tightens up.

Wednesday’s win has the Canes in ninth, but just four points back of the sixth place Brandon Wheat Kings and five back of the fifth place Moose Jaw Warriors.

“Right now in our division there are a few teams who are kind higher up and then there are a few who are right in a race,” said Jones. “These games are four-point games, as we like to call them. We’re treating it kind of like a playoff series where you get the same team with only a few days off and it’s good. It gets the guys ready. There’s not a lot of playoff experience here, myself included, just because of COVID. But it’s good to get all the guys ready and open their eyes to that.”

The Hurricanes are back at the Enmax Centre Friday night when they host the Rebels at 7 p.m.

The Canes wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule with a home-and-home series with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

The Tigers are at the Enmax Centre Dec. 17 before the teams head to Medicine Hat Dec. 18 for the rematch.

NOTES – Wednesday night’s game was Hurricanes forward Noah Boyko’s 150th of his career. Wednesday night’s announced attendance was 2,597. In a clash of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference and the league, the Oil Kings downed the Ice 3-2 Wednesday night in Winnipeg.

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