June 15th, 2024

Rebels special teams power past the Hurricanes


By Dale Woodard on January 22, 2022.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard Red Deer Rebels goaltender Connor Ungar stretches out to rob Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Ty Nash on a golden scoring opportunity in second period Western Hockey League play Friday night at the Enmax Centre.

In the battle of special teams, the Red Deer Rebels topped the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

That ultimately translated to the scoresheet as the Rebels downed the Hurricanes 5-2 in Western Hockey League action Friday night at the Enmax Centre.

The Rebels struck for three power play goals on six chances and held the Canes to 0-for-4 on their man advantage chances as Red Deer posted the win that improves them to 24-11-2-1 and in firm possession of third in the Eastern Conference.

The loss drops the Hurricanes back one game under .500 at 14-15-2-1 and into a tie with the Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats for ninth in the East and one point back of the eight-place Prince Albert Raiders.

Trailing 3-0 early in the second, the Hurricanes got goals from Alex Thacker, while Tristan Zandee scored his first as a Hurricane a little over a minute later to cut Red Deer’s lead to 3-2 10:46 into the period.

But a third Rebels power play goal, this one from defenceman Jackson van de Leest, paced the visitors to a 4-2 lead as Dallon Melin added an empty-netter with 1:44 remaining.

“I thought even strength it was a good game,” said Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio. “I think we played hard and Red Deer was playing hard. Our penalty kill really struggled tonight and Red Deer took advantage. Our power play struggled as well. It was a special teams battle. They won it and we lost it, obviously, and that was difference in the game.”

The Rebels took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission on a pair of goals from Ben Knight, the second one on the power play.

The Hurricanes nearly tied it 1-1 on a two-on-none shorthanded chance, but Red Deer goaltender Connor Ungar was able to sprawl across and kick away a Ty Nash one-timer to keep Lethbridge off the board.

Red Deer’s man advantage units struck a second time early in the second when Liam Keeler went to the net and tipped a feed from King past Canes goaltender Jared Picklyk for a 3-0 lead 2:51 into the second.

But a pair of Hurricanes goals pulled the hosts within one.

Thacker was able to gain the front of the Red Deer goal and shoveled a shot high past Ungar to make it 3-1 9:38 into the second.

The Canes fourth line – including recent additions Hayden Smith and Brayden Edwards, making his debut Friday – pulled Lethbridge within one when Zandee netted his first as a Hurricane to make it 3-2 with 9:14 remaining in the second.

“I thought they were awesome, I thought they were one of our better lines tonight,” said Kisio of the trio. “We can call them the fourth line if we want. They were our best line, if not, our second-best line. I thought they played a really solid game.”

The Canes nearly tied it up, but Ungar once again stoned Nash in close to keep it 3-2.

van de Leest’s goal doubled the Rebels lead with 3:15 left in the second before Melin’s empty-netter sent Friday’s announced crowd of 2,476 heading for the door.

“I thought we did some good things,” said Zandee. “Obviously, we have to clean up our discipline. I think that’s ultimately what killed us tonight. You give a good team like that too many power plays as well did, they’re going to capitalize. It’s just improving our discipline and overall just rounding out our game as a group. We’re new together, so I think that’s part of it.”

Zandee and his linemates all combined on the Hurricanes second goal as Zandee drove the net and was rewarded with his second of the season.

“Those two have played together before,” said Zandee of Edwards and Smith. “For me, it was just easy to fit in on that line. They’re pretty easy players to play with. They’re fast. I thought it was pretty good, so hopefully we can build on that.”

With Hurricanes starter Bryan Thomson still out with a lower body injury, Picklyk was called into action Friday, stopping 23 of 27 shots.

“He played solid,” said Kisio. “There were a couple he could have made some saves on, but I thought he played a pretty solid game. It’s a tough spot for him to be in. He hasn’t played a lot of games for us this year. He’s going to play some games and he’s going to have to be the guy for a while.”

Ungar turned aside 25 of 27 shots he faced.

The Hurricanes are in Swift Current tonight to take on the Broncos and are back at the Enmax Centre Wednesday night when the Saskatoon Blades come to town.

Notes:

On Friday, the Hurricanes announced a change in ticket purchasing procedure with the 50 per cent capacity restriction.

Effective immediately, tickets will be held for voucher holders until 5 p.m. two days before game day.

After that time, all remaining seats will be released to the public and can be purchased online at http://www.enmaxcentre.ca, in-person at the Enmax Centre or Yates Memorial Centre, or over the phone at 403-329-7328.

Food and beverages are still not available at the games and fans are not allowed to bring in their own food and beverage. Masks must be worn at all times in the facility and proof of vaccination and photo ID are required for entry.

The Enmax Centre and Yates Memorial ticket centre locations are open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours on event days at their respective venues.

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