LETHBRIDGE - Seven different players scored as the Lethbridge Hurricanes ended a three game losing skid with a convincing 7-2 win over the Kootenay ICE Monday night at the ENMAX Centre.
A strong start for the Lethbridge Hurricanes on home ice in their first game of 2012. About five minutes in Jamal Watson, fed the puck across to Reid Duke who scored his first-ever WHL goal, lifting the puck over Mackenzie Skapski to give Lethbridge a 1-0. Dan Johnston collected the puck so the 15 year old Duke could have that as a souvenir. Not too long after that, Kootenay would tie the game on a power play. Max Reinhart took a pass from behind the Hurricanes goal and buried behind Damien Ketlo to even the score at 1-1. Late in the period, Lethbridge would regain it's one goal lead when Brody Sutter scored his 17th of the season on a power play. That gave the Canes a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play. The shots were even at 12-12.
In the second, the Hurricanes continued to pound pucks at the Kootenay goal with some quality scoring chances, but Skapski was able to shut the door for the first 10n minutes. The ICE would get the equalizer near the mid-way point, when Max Reinhart roofed a backhander over Ketlo for his second goal of the game. That tied things up at 2-2, eventhough the Canes had been the much better team in the first half of the period. In the last half of the period, the Hurricanes took over with three goals to jump ahead by a trio. First it was Russ Maxwell notching his 9th the season to give the Canes a 3-2 lead. Shortly after that, Phil Tot tipped a Dan Johnston point shot for his 4th of the season to the put the Hurricanes ahead 4-2. Then before the end of the period, Sam McKechnie took a long cross ice pass from Russ Maxwell for his 6th of season to extend the Lethbridge to three through 40 minutes, 5-2. The ICE held the edge in shots 26-21.
In the third, the Hurricanes would add another, when Cam Braes fired home his 21st goal of the season on a 5-on-3 power play. That gave Lethbridge a 6-2 lead and pretty much put the nail in the Kootenay coffin. The Hurricanes though would get one more before this game would come to a close. Juraj Bezuch flew down the left wing and wrapped the puck in from the back of the goal for his 4th of the season and that gave the Hurricanes a 7-2 lead and that's the way the game would end. The Hurricanes were very disciplined in this game, as that was key. The ICE went 1/5 on the man advantage. The Hurricanes went 3 for 9 with the power play. The ICE out shot Lethbridge 36-29.
The Hurricanes coaching staff rolled four lines all night long and it certainly paid off. Seven different players got goals and Dan Johnston added three helpers in the win. The victory put the breaks to a three game post-Christmas losing skid for Lethbridge. It was also their first win in five games over the Kootenay ICE this season. With the seven goals, the Canes more goals against the ICE in this one game, than what they had scored combined in the previous four, which was five.
The Hurricanes called up Reid Duke to play against the ICE. Although Duke had already played his 5th game for Lethbridge prior to Monday night, he was allowed to play his 6th because the Canes are shorthanded with players away at the U-17's. Once an underage player has played his 5th game, it's up to the league to determine, on a case by case basis if his WHL club can call him up. Merkley, Leverton, and Erkamps are expected back in the Hurricanes line-up Friday when they host Medicine Hat.
COACH PRESTON FINED
Hurricanes Head Coach and G.M. Rich Preston was tagged with a $500 fined from the WHL after he was ejected late in the game during the Canes 3-2 loss in Medicine Hat December 30th. Preston had words will the officials after he wasn't happy with some of the calls or non-calls in the 3rd period.
The Hurricanes hit the road for their next action on Wednesday (Jan. 4) when they travel to Edmonton to take on the Oil Kings. Including that game, the Hurricanes will play 7 of their next 8 games all on the road. Game time from Rexall Place is 7:00 pm (MST). The pre-game show on CJOC at 6:30.