LETHBRIDGE - Cam Braes scored three times, including the game-tying goal with the goalie pulled late in the 3rd period as the Lethbridge Hurricanes beat the Calgary Hitmen 6-5 in overtime Wednesday night at the ENMAX Centre.
A quick start to this game for the Hurricanes on home ice. Lethbridge was given a 5-on-3 power play early in the period and scored twice to take a 2-0 lead. First Cam Braes scored his 17th of the season, ripping a shot over the shoulder of Chris Driedger to give the Canes a 1-0 lead. Just over a minute later, the Hurricanes would make it 2-0 with another power play goal. This time Nick Buonassisi would get the goal, his 11th of the year. Just like that, the Hurricanes were up by a pair. Calgary got one of those back when Brady Brassart beat Damien Ketlo to cut the Canes lead to 2-1, but Lethbridge would soon after regain their two-goal cushion when Jaimen Yakubowski notched his 7th of the season, right off the face-off. That would make it 3-1 Lethbridge. Late in the period though, with just 24 second to go Calgary would get a power play goal courtesy of Jimmy Bubnick. That would cut the Hurricanes lead to 3-2 after one. The shots favoured the Hitmen 19-13.
In the second, the Hurricanes would get back their two goal lead early. A bad giveaway by Calgary in it's own zone would end up in the back of the net when Graham Hood scored his 5th of the year to give Lethbridge a 4-2 lead. The Hitmen would have several chances to score as the period moved on, but Damien Ketlo was great in goal and kept Calgary off the scoreboard. Lethbridge took that two-goal lead into the second intermission. Calgary held the edge in shots at 35-21.
In what turned out to be a wild third, the Hitmen would make it a one goal game very quickly on the power play, as Brady Brassart scored just 16 seconds into the period to make it 4-3 Lethbridge with lots of hockey yet to be played. The Hitmen would keep pressing and a few minutes later got the equalizer. Kenton Helgesen wired a low point shot by a screened Ketlo to even the game at 4-4. Then with about 3:30 left, Calgary would take the lead for the first time when Cody Sylvester snapped a shot by Ketlo, putting the Hurricanes behind in the game with a couple of minutes to go. Lethbridge pulled the goalie in the final minute and Cam Braes would score with just 25 seconds to go in the period to tie things up at 5-5. That was Braes' 3rd goal of the night and 19th of the season. That would send the game into overtime. Just 21 seconds into the extra period, Graham Hood would jam the puck by Driedger to lead Lethbridge to a thrilling 6-5 win. That was Hood's 2nd goal of the game and 6th of the season and a big one at that. Calgary out shot Lethbridge 47-28 in this one as Damien Ketlo was very busy between the pipes. Lethbridge went 2 for 4 on the power play and Calgary finished the night 2 for 2.
The victory is the Hurricanes 9th in their last 13 games and 4th straight on home ice. Lethbridge has also won 6 of it's last 7 games at the ENMAX Centre. The win improves their record to 12-22-0-1 on the season. It wasn't a pretty win, but the Hurricanes will take it. Cam Braes said on the CJOC post-game show that it wasn't a very good defensive effort in this game, but they'll take the two points and try and learn from some of the mistakes. Braes is red hot right now. He's on a 10 game point scoring streak with 11 goals and 5 assists during that period.
The Hurricanes saw the return of Phil Tot to the line-up Wednesday. He's missed the past few weeks with injury. For the most part, the Hurricanes have pretty much a healthy line-up heading into the final two games before the WHL's annual Christmas break. Just two players remained sideline. Craig Leverton still has an upper body injury and it out and Tyler Kizuik suffered a mild concussion in Victoria last weekend and won't play until after the break.
The Hurricanes are back home Friday night to host the Victoria Royals. The Canes will be looking to make amends for an 8-5 loss to the Royals on Vancouver Island a week ago, a game in which saw the saw number of lead slip away. This will be first and only visit to Lethbridge this season by the former Chilliwack Bruins franchise. Game time is 7:00 pm (MST). The Hurricanes will host Swift Current Saturday for their annual Teddy Bear Toss game. After that, the Hurricanes won't play again until December 27th in Cranbrook against the Kootenay ICE.