The Calgary Hitmen did Wednesday night what few teams have been able to do this season, beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes. And despite the shot total being lopsided in favour of Calgary, it was a very close game between the two Central Division rivals.
The Hurricanes opened the scored quickly in this game. Brayden Burke got things going just over three minutes into the first period to give Lethbridge a 1-0 lead. That was his 10th of the season. Three minutes after that the Hitmen tied the score when Keegan Kanzig scored his first of two on the night to tie the game at 1-1. Just before the end of the period though the Hurricanes regained the one goal lead thanks to Jordy Bellerive's 2nd of the year and the Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead into the dressing through 20 minutes of play.
In the second, the Hurricanes jumped ahead by a pair when Giorgio Estephan scored his 18th of the season just 45 seconds into the period to give the visitors a 3-1 lead. That was also a power play goal for Lethbridge. Seven minutes later the Hitmen got to within one. Jakob Stukel scored on the power play to cut the Hurricanes lead to 3-2. Giorgio Estephan then scored his second of the night for Lethbridge, this one shorthanded to give the Hurricanes their two goal lead back, this time 4-2. It was Estephan's 19th of the year. The score stayed that way until the final five minutes when Calgary's power play struck again. Keegan Kanzig scored his second of the night to cut the Canes lead to 4-3 through two periods of play.
In the third, the wheels kind of fell off for the Hurricanes. The Hitmen scored three unanswered goals to come back from a two goal deficit twice and win the game. Layne Bensmiller, Jakob Stukel with his second of the game, and Jake Bean all scored to complete the come back for Calgary. The final score: Hitmen 6 and Lethbridge 4.
It was a big win for Calgary as it moved the Hitmen into a first place tie with the Hurricanes in the WHL's Eastern Conference. The two teams are set for the re-match back in Lethbridge on Saturday (Jan. 2).
The loss was only the second for Lethbridge in the team's last 11 games. The Hurricanes record falls to 26-12 on the season. Calgary badly out shot the Canes 38-18 in this game, but Jayden Sittler was there to keep the Hurricanes in the game all night long. Lethbridge went 1/4 on the power play and Calgary was 3/9. Penalties were an obvious issue for the Hurricanes in Wednesday's game. Something that really hasn't been a huge problem for this team so far this season overall.
That's it for 2015 for the Hurricanes. If 2016 can be anywhere near a repeat of the first half of this season it's going to be a very fun ride for the players, coaches, and especially the fans who've waited six long seasons to see this type of hockey again at the ENMAX Centre.
The WHL's trade deadline is a week and a half away. Will GM Peter Anholt be willing to add anything to his team for the post-season run? If hat Red Deer just paid to get the services of Jake DeBrusk are any indication, the price for a so-called game changing player could be very high. The Rebels of course are hosting the Memorial Cup so they're in a much different position that every other team in the league. Nonetheless, the price is very high and Anholt will have to ask himself if it's worth it. Quite frankly I can't see the Canes giving anything like that up to get a player. Will they add a guy? I think so, but the price will have to be right. I'd be shocked to see this team part with a first round pick that's for sure.
The next week or so will be interesting!
Happy New Year!!