June 20th, 2024

Wheat Kings win special teams battle over Canes


By Dale Woodard on February 19, 2022.

On a night of firsts, the Lethbridge Hurricanes comeback fell just short.

The Canes were edged 5-2 by the Brandon Wheat Kings in Friday night Western Hockey League play at the Enmax Centre.

Hurricanes defenceman Kade Nolan scored his first goal of the season and his first as a Hurricane and forward Briley Wood scored his first career WHL goal and point to cut the Wheat Kings lead to 3-2 before a pair of Brandon empty netters rounded out the scoring.

But on a night when Lethbridge product and Wheat Kings captain Ridly Greig had three assists and teammate Nate Danielson netted the hat trick, the Wheaties also won the special teams game as Trae Johnson opened the scoring with a shorthanded marker early in the second and Danielson scored his first of three on the power play for a 2-0 lead after two periods.

Nolan’s first of the season 4:42 into the third cut the lead to 2-1 and Wood’s first WHL tally made it 3-2 with 10:52 to go, but Danielson and Johnson’s empty-netters sealed it for Brandon.

With the loss the Hurricanes fall to 19-22-2-1 and the Wheat Kings improve to 24-15-3-2.

“I thought five-on-five was a pretty even game, both teams were battling” said Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio.

“That shorthanded goal really hurt us early on and they got the power play goal. So we lost the special teams battle tonight. We have to be better than that.”

The teams skated through a scoreless first period as Hurricanes goaltender Bryan Thomson kept his shutout streak going after blanking the Moose Jaw Warriors 1-0 in a shootout Tuesday night.

The Wheat Kings finally found a way past Thomson with a shorthanded goal from Johnson, who took a feed from Greig and fired a shot glove side past Thomson for a 1-0 lead 6:16 into the second period.

The Hurricanes had a shorthanded chance of their own midway through the second when forward Yegor Klavdiev was sprung on a breakaway, but he lost the handle on the puck just as he approached the Wheat Kings goal.

The Wheat Kings special teams went back to work, this time on the power play, late in the second when Danielson scored and Greig added his second helper of the night for a 2-0 lead with 2:43 left in the second.

The teams swapped goals in a span of 31 seconds in the third.

The Canes went first and Nolan scored his first of the season and his first as a Hurricane, going to the net and finishing off a chance from Alex Thacker to cut the Wheat Kings lead to 2-1 4:42 into the period.

The one-goal deficit lasted all of 31 seconds and Brandon answered right back with Danielson’s second of the night to restore the Wheat Kings two-goal lead and make it 3-1 at the 5:13 mark.

“I was feeling a little unlucky recently, but it definitely feels good to get that one off my back,” said Nolan. “I have to get up into the play more. That’s something I want to add more to my game.”

The Hurricanes pulled back to within one and Wood picked up his first career WHL goal and point with 10:52 to go.

“I thought he played a great game and he’s been due,” said Kisio. “He’s had a lot of chances. In the last game he hit a cross bar and tonight he scores a goal. Hopefully that leads to a lot more.”

The Hurricanes pressed with some late chances and outshot Brandon 7-5 in the third, but Danielson and Johnson’s empty-netters sent the announced crowd of 2, 542 headed to the exits.

“I really liked how we competed out there, I thought at times we were dominant and sometimes we weren’t so dominant,” said Nolan. “We just have to capitalize on the chances we’re given. On the power play, we have to clean a few things up here and there. But I liked our battle.”

The Hurricanes were 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Wheat Kings clicked at 1-for-3.

“We’ve been struggling on our power play and we’ve been trying to figure it out,” said Kisio. “We’re moving guys around, but we need more compete and we need more battles and we need more urgency.”

“I know it’s hard mentally for some guys,” added Nolan. “But there are lot of moving pieces, guys playing different positions. I think it’s a little bit of trial and error until we can figure out what works best. As long as we keep working we’ll figure it out.”

Thomson stopped 21 of 24 shots, while Wheat Kings goaltender Ethan Kruger made 27 saves.

For their third game, the Canes were without leading scorer Justin Hall, who is out with an upper body injury.

“He’s getting close,” said Kisio. “I don’t think we’ll have him (tonight) But hopefully right away.”

In the meantime, the Canes coach said the rest of the lineup will have to step up in Hall’s absence.

“You’re going to have injuries and sometimes your top guys go down. We’re excited to get him back, and hopefully soon.”

The Swift Current Broncos downed the Medicine Hat Tigers 7-2 Friday night to move to 18-24-5-1 and one point ahead of the Hurricanes for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Hurricanes are in Medicine Hat tonight to face the Tigers and return to the Enmax Centre Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when the Winnipeg Ice come to town.

Kisio”

“Every night is a big game for every team,” said Kisio. “We’re fighting for the playoffs and we’re fighting to move up in the standings.”

“It’s definitely mentally and physically demanding,” added Nolan. “But I think a lot of the guys are confident in the way we’re playing. Defensively we’ve been pretty good. We just have to focus on putting the puck in the back of the net.”

Lethbridge product Rylen Roersma went pointless and shotless for the Wheaties Friday night. He was also even in plus/minus.

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