The Lethbridge Hurricanes earned their fourth straight win over the Rebels this season with a 4-3 shoot out victory Friday night in Red Deer.
The extra point was huge as it keeps the Canes in first place in the WHL's Eastern Conference. Egor Babenko had the only goal for either team in the shoot out and also scored once during regulation to lead the way for Lethbridge in this game. This was certainly the marquis match-up in the Western Hockey League Friday and neither team disappointed.
Red Deer got on the board first in this game. Just 2:19 into the first period, Reese Johnson beat Jayden Sittler to make it 1-0 Rebels. That was short-lived as the Hurricanes power play, the number one power in the WHL went to work and did some serious damage in the opening 20 minutes. Tyler Wong scored with the man advantage three minutes later to tie the game at 1-1. That was his team-leading 25th of the season. Three minutes after that, the Rebels would strike with a power play goal of their own. Michael Spacek scored to give Red Deer its one goal lead again, this time 2-1 but again the Canes would answer. Egor Babenko on another Lethbridge power play, his 20th of the year and it was all even at 2-2. The Hurricanes then took the lead before the end of the period on, you guessed it, another power play. Justin Gutierrez with less than a minute to go on the clock gave Lethbridge a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes of play.
After a wild five goal first period, things really calmed down after that. In fact, the second period was scoreless keeping the Hurricanes in a 3-2 lead heading into the third.
The score remained 3-2 until the 7:44 mark of the period when Adam Helewka scored for Red Deer, to tie the game at 3-3 and sending this one to overtime. The extra five minute 3-on-3 OT session solved nothing so this game would end up going to a shoot out to decide which team ended up with the all-important extra point.
Egor Babenko was the only player to score for either team in the shoot out and the Hurricanes would skate away with a 4-3 victory on the road. The win improves their overall record to an impressive 29-12 on the season.
Red Deer native Jayden Sittler earned the win in goal for Lethbridge. The game was close from start to finish with the Rebels holding a slight 39-36 edge in shots on goal. Special Teams was huge in this game. The Hurricanes went 3/5 on the power play and Red Deer went 1/5.
The Hurricanes remain having the best power play in the WHL, by quite a lot. The Canes PP sits at 30.7%. The next closest team is Tri-City at 24.1%. That's a rather big spread.
Lethbridge returns home Saturday (Jan. 9) to play a team they should roll right over. The Kootenay ICE are poised to miss the WHL playoffs for the first time in the last 18 seasons. The ICE have struggled big time and have only 8 wins in 42 games this season. The Hurricanes though can't take this game lightly and think it'll be a walk in the park. They need to treat this game the same as the first place show down in Red Deer.