EDMONTON - The Eastern Conference-leading Edmonton Oil Kings got off to a quick start and never looked back as they beat the Hurricanes 4-1 Sunday afternoon.
The Oil Kings would draw first blood in this matinee at Rexall Place. Mitch Moroz took the puck down the right wing, cut in front of the Hurricanes goal and slid it by Ketlo to make it 1-0 Edmonton. About 5 minute later the Oil Kings would get two more, just 15 seconds apart to blow the game open. Tyler Maxwell ripped home a shot on the power play to make it 2-0 and then right off the draw at centre ice, Mitch Moroz moved in and fired home his second of the afternoon to give Edmonton a convincing 3-0 lead. That's the way the period would end. The Oil Kings had several scoring chances in the opening period as they out shot the Canes 19-7. The Canes best chance came when the puck was dumped in off the glass and took a funny bounce, nearly beating a surprised Laurent Brossoit.
In the second, the Hurricanes would come out with a much better effort and had several decent chances and finally in the last minute they would get on their first of the afternoon. Brady Ramsay, who's been red hot lately had the shot go off an Edmonton defenceman and in to cut the Oil Kings lead to 3-1. Ramsay was credited for his 23rd goal of the season. Damien Ketlo did his job on the other side, keeping the home side off the scoresheet. That's the way the period would end. The shots favoured the Oil Kings 28-19. Brady Ramsay left the game near end of the period after getting hit partially from behind and didn't play the rest of the afternoon.
In the third, the Hurricanes would ramp up the pressure a bit more to try and get back into the game and again had numerous good opportunities, but Laurent Brossoit in the end turned out to be a huge factor in the Edmonton goal. He stopped Jamal Watson on a breakaway in that final period and also stopped Russ Maxwell on a breakaway back in the second. Edmonton would ice things with an empty net goal with a few seconds to go courtesy of Stephane Legault. The final shots favoured Edmonton slightly 35-32. Lethbridge went 0/3 on the man advantage while the Oil Kings finished the game 1/5. The loss ends the Hurricanes three game winning streak and drops their overall record to 25-37-0-1 in 63 games on the season.
Overall, the Hurricanes didn't play poorly, they just got off to a slow start allowing those three goals in the open 10 minutes of so. After that, I thoguht the Canes really adjusted well and didn't let that 3-0 deficit rattle them. They certainly had their chances in this game too, but as mentioned earlier, Laurent Brossoit was a big difference.
The Hurricanes play their next three games on the road this coming week. They'll head to Prince Albert Tuesday and will play the Raiders there Wednesday night (Feb. 29). That will wrap up the February portion of the Hurricanes schedule. Then on Friday (Mar. 2) it's off to Brandon to play the Wheat Kings for the final time this year and then Saturday (Mar. 3) the Canes will pay their final visit to Moose Jaw for a date against Cam Braes and the Warriors. The PA and Moose Jaw games are set for 6:00 pm (MST) on CJOC. The game is Brandon is a 6:30 (MST) face-off. Lethbridge returns home to host Moose Jaw March 6th.
NO PLAYOFFS "OFFICIALLY"
The Hurricanes were mathematically eliminated from the WHL post-season Saturday when the Brandon Wheat Kings beat Regina. At this time last year, the Canes had less points, less wins, and were still very much in the playoff hunt. With the Eastern Conference so tight this year, it's been very tough for the Hurricanes to rebound from that 13 game losing streak back in October. They've been a consistently better team since mid-November, but that skid has turned out to be too steep of a mountain to climb.
HURRICANES THIS WEEK
Fred Jack and I are back LIVE from Average Joe's Sports Bar on 6th Street South Monday night for our next edition of Hurricanes This Week. We have four more programs before we wrap up for the season on March 19th. Coming up on the show this week, Hurricanes Associate Coach Matt Kabayama, Assistant GM and Director of Player Personnel Brad Robson, and the radio voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings Bruce Luebke. It all gets underway at 6:00 pm MST Monday night on CJOC. If you miss the show LIVE, you can download the program off the CJOC website or podcast it on iTunes the next day.