LETHBRIDGE - Two goals each by Jay Merkley and Brody Sutter lifted the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a big 6-5 victory over the Calgary Hitmen Friday night at the ENMAX Centre.
The Hurricanes would open the scoring on their first home game of the season in what turned out to a wildly offensive period of hockey. Just a few miniutes in, Jay Merkley would get his first-ever WHL goal by knocking home a Macoy Erkamps point shot. That gave Lethbridge a 1-0 lead. Near the midway point of the period, Calgary would tie the game when Justin Kirsch fired home a shot into the top corner beating Brandon Anderson to the score at 1-1, but not too long after that, Lethbridge regained the one goal lead and then added a little insurance. Juraj Bezuch got his first in the Western Hockey League and then shortly following that, Brody Sutter was sprung loose on the power play and he would score his first of the season giving the Canes a 3-1 lead. Calgary would end up getting a power play goal. Alex Gogolev put a shot over Anderson, cutting the Lethbridge lead to 3-2. Then before the the end of the period, the Hitmen would find the equalizer. Justin Kirsch took a pass from Gogolev on a 2-on-1 and and fired a shot by a sprawling Anderson to tie the game at 3-3. That's how the period would end.
Lethbridge held the edge in shots 18-10 after one period.
In the second, the Canes would get another one and again it would be Jay Merkey finding the twine. Merkley took a nice feed from Graham Hood and put the shot by Michael Snider to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 lead. That would be the rookie's second goal of the night. Right at the 10:00 mark, Calgary would tie the game at 4-4 on a defensive give-away in front of the Lethbridge goal. Jimmy Bubnick stole the puck and put it by Anderson to once again even the score as the Calgary Hitmen continued to stay in the game. The Hurricanes then would get another power play goal to put the home side back in the lead. Brody Sutter put home his second of the night to give Lethbridge a 5-4 lead. Just before the end of the period, in fact with less than a second to go, Daniel Johnston hammered a point shot that was tipped by Cam Braes beating Snider who was partially screened. That put Lethbridge ahead 6-4. The goal went to video review, but it stood and the Canes took a two goal lead into dressing room after two periods. Calgary held a slight edge in shots 32-30.
In the third, the Calgary Hitmen would cut the Lethbridge lead to one when Victor Rask scored to make it 6-5 Hurricanes. That would make for an interesting final 9 minutes at the ENMAX Centre. The Hitmen would come close a couple of times to tying the game once again, but that would be as close as they would get as the Canes would hold on for a 6-5 victory. It was certainly not a defensive game as Calgary out shot the Hurricanes 47-37 on the night. Lethbridge finished the night 2/5 on the power play and Calgary went 1/4. Lethbridge improves to 2-1 on the season win the win. It was a good crowd on opening at the ENMAX Centre as the attendance was 4,706.
The Hurricanes next action is Saturday night when the play host to the Regina Pats. Game time is 7:00 pm (MDT). The pre-game show on CJOC at 6:30. Prior to the October 2nd game, the Canes will be holding a tailgate party out in front of the ENMAX Centre from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Hurricanes fans will be able to come by and take part in a BBQ and there'll be face painting for the kids, music, and much more.
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