As they say, all good things have to come to an end at some point and that's what happened for the Lethbridge Hurricanes on the road Friday night in Victoria.
Jack Walker scored a pair of goals as the Royals beat the Canes 3-1 at Save-On-Foods Arena. It was the Hurricanes first loss of 2016 and their first defeat since December 30th. Despite the loss the Hurricanes record since December 15th is more than impressive. They are 16 and 2 in their last 18 games during that six week stretch.
Now to Friday's game. The Royals appeared more than ready for the WHL-leading Hurricanes. They badly out shot the Canes in this game, 42-17, but Stuart Skinner kept his club in it and made it a very close game right down to the final minute and a half.
After a scoreless first period between two of the best teams in the Western Hockey League, Victoria opened the scoring. in the second period, when Jack Walker scored his first of two on the night 5:25 into the second, giving the Royals a 1-0 lead. That held up through the opening 40 minutes.
In the third, the Hurricanes tied the game, thanks to their top notch power play. Ryley Lindgren with his 20th of the season on the man advantage, evened the game at 1-1. With that goal, Lindgren joins five other Hurricanes who've either hit or surpassed the 20 goal mark this season. About four minutes later though, the Royals would get a power play of their own and they'd score what would turn out to be the game winner. Alex Forsberg beat Skinner to make it a 2-1 game in favour of the home team. There was still half a period left for the Hurricanes to try and get back to even terms, but with about 1:30 left to go in the game, Jack Walker scored into an empty net and the Victoria Royals skated off with a 3-1 win.
This game was a lot closer than the shots on goal would indicate, thanks to the play of Stuart Skinner. Lethbridge finished the game 1/4 on the power play and Victoria was 1/5. The win was the Royals 30th of the season in 50 games played. They trail Kelowna by six points for first place in the West. The Canes still lead the Eastern Conference and the WHL with 72 points, five points ahead of Red Deer. The Hurricanes do have a few points on the Rebels and Brandon Wheat Kings, however things can change pretty quickly with a few loses. That's why every point and every game is critical.
The Hurricanes will now travel to Vancouver to take on the Giants Saturday (Jan. 30). Vancouver has struggled this season with only 19 wins in 51 games. They sit last in the West. On paper, this should be a rebound game for Lethbridge, however the Canes can't take any team for granted despite their opponents record. After the Vancouver game, thee Hurricanes will have a few days off until they play in Kelowna next Tuesday (Feb. 2).