LETHBRIDGE - Dominik Volek's first period power play goal stood up the entire game as the Red Deer Rebels shut out the Lethbridge Hurricanes 2-0 Friday night in front of just over 4700 fans at the ENMAX Centre.
The visitors came out gunning in this hockey game. Red Deer would open the scoring as well with a power play goal. A nice little passing play left Dominik Volek alone in front of Ty Rimmer and he fired the puck by the Lethbridge goaltender to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead. The Hurricanes found their legs late in the period on the man advantage with a few quality scoring chances, but Patrik Bartosak was able to keep Lethbridge off the score sheet. On the flip side, Ty Rimmer was outstanding for the Hurricanes, making several huge stops as the Canes were out shot 17-9.
In the second, the Hurricanes would come out with a much better effort but couldn't find a way to beat Patrik Bartosak. The Canes kept pounding pucks at the Rebels goalie and Bartosak steered aside each and every one to keep his team in the lead. Ty Rimmer had another solid period of hockey, turning aside all the shots he faced and Red Deer would hold on to it's 1-0 lead through 40 minutes of play. The Rebels held a slight 22-21 edge in shots.
In the third, the Hurricanes would keep up the pressure to find the equalizer, but again Bartosak was like a rock between the pipes. The Canes nearly tied the game in the dying seconds with the goaltender pulled, rang a shot off the goal post. The Rebels came back down the ice and Turner Elson put one into an empty goal to pace the Rebels to a 2-0 victory. The Canes have now lost 5 games in a row and see their record fall to 25-27-2-7 on the season. Lethbridge remains one point back of the 8th place Kootenay ICE. The Hurricanes out shot Red Deer 32-29 in this game. The Rebels finished the night 1/3 on the power play. Lethbridge went 0/5.
Two of the Hurricanes key players remained sidelined with injuries. Head Coach and GM Rich Preston told me on the pre-game show Friday both Graham Hood and Dan Johnston are close to returning. He says Hood might return Sunday against the ICE as he's been going through the regular concussion protocol. As for Johnston, he's been out since mid-January when he injured his shoulder in Portland. Preston says Johnston has been "working out like crazy" and we could know more this weekend where he's at and notes the big defenceman could be back in the "not-too-distant future".
The Hurricanes will have Saturday off before playing a hugely important game Sunday evening against the visiting Kootenay ICE. The Canes trail the ICE by one point for the final playoff spot in the East. Kootenay has one game in hand and will play that Saturday versus Calgary. The Canes and ICE hook up 3 times in the final 11 games of the season. Game time Sunday is 6:00 pm MST. The pre-game show on CJOC at 5:30.