VICTORIA, BC - Three quick goals early in the third period blew the game wide open and helped the Royals to an 8-5 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes got off to a quick start in this game. Just over three minutes in, Juraj Bezuch took a nice feed from Adam Henry and put the puck by Keith Hamilton to give Lethbridge a 1-0 lead. It was Bezuch's 3rd of the season. The Hurricanes kept it coming. They had several good chances as the period moved on and before the buzzer went, they would get another. Jaimen Yakubowski tipped in a Daniel Johnston point shot for his 4th of the season. That gave Lethbridge 2-0 lead. Late in the period though, the Royals would finally beat Liam Liston. Ben Walker wheeled out from behind the goal and fired a shot over the blocker to make it 2-1 Lethbridge and less than a minute later Kevicn Sundher would tie the game at 2-2. Despite the tie, the Hurricanes had a very strong opening period with several scoring chances. They out shot the Royals 15-7.
In the second, the two teams would continue to trade goals in what turned out to be a rather wild period of hockey. The Royals would take the lead early when Kevin Sundher notched his second of the night to make it 3-2 Victoria. Lethbridge would get two quick goals of their own to tie things up and right after that they would take the lead. Brady Ramsey scored his 12th of the season short-handed to tie the game at 3-3 on a bad give-away by the Royals in their own zone and then just over a minute later, Jay Merkley scored his 7th of the season on the power play to give Lethbridge a 4-3 lead. The Royals would once again come charging back on a goal by Jamie Crooks. That tied things up at 4-4, but the Hurricanes would again get the go-ahead goal again when Brody Sutter found the back of the net for his 14th of the year. That gave the Hurricanes a 5-4 lead through 40 minutes of play. The Canes held the edge in shots 25-17.
In the third, the Royals would blow the game open with three goals in a span of 3:51. Jamie Crooks would score a pair, including his hatrick goal and a third goal was added by Brandon Magee. That turned a 5-4 deficit for Victoria into a 7-5 lead in a matter of minutes. The Royals would add one more a few minutes later when Steven Hodges scored. That made it 8-5 Victoria and that's the way the game would end. The Hurricanes out shot the Royals 31-26 on the night. Lethbridge went 1/7 on the power play while Victoria finished the night 1/3. The loss drops the Canes record to 10-22-0-1 on the season. Assistant Coach Chris Chisamore wasn't very happy on the CJOC post-game show. He said, "Our defence tonight was absolutely terrible". This game way too wide open for his liking and I certainly agree. It was a good start for Lethbridge in this game, but they weren't able to put the Royals away. Certainly not a very good finish, especially the start of the third period. That was the difference.
Brody Sutter returned to the Hurricanes line-up Friday night in Victoria. Sutter missed the Hurricanes previous game in Kelowna after blocking a shot last weekend and leaving the game against Spokane. Head Coach and G.M. Rich Preston says that forward Phil Tot is very close to making his return as well. Captain Cam Braes had a large contingent of local supporters cheering him on in Victoria. The native of Shawnigan Lake, about a 45 minute drive north of here had a lot of family and friends make the short drive to see him play. He said before the game that he was very excited to play his first WHL game near his home town in his last season in the league.
The Hurricanes next action is Saturday (Dec. 10) when they play the Giants in Vancouver. As many people are well aware, it's been 7 years since the Canes last beat Vancouver in either Lethbridge or in Vancouver. December of 2004 was the last time the Hurricanes managed a victory over the Giants and they hope Saturday night that awfully long drought comes to an end. I'll have the pre-game show on CJOC at 7:30 pm. The puck drop at 8:00 (MST). The Hurricanes return home to play three game in four nights next week, starting with the Calgary Hitmen in town on Wednesday (Dec. 14).