The Lethbridge Hurricanes are no longer sitting in first place in the WHL's Eastern Conference following a 5-2 home ice loss Friday night to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings.
The Wheaties leapfrogged the the Hurricanes by one point with the victory. It was a huge game for both teams and with ten games to go in the regular season for the Hurricanes, the finish should be interesting. Brandon leads the East now with 83 points. The Hurricanes are second with 82. Red Deer sits in 3rd with 77 points. Lethbridge will have to find a way to get back on track in the final couple of weeks before playoff time. They've lost five games in a row as they look to get out of this late season funk.
This game Friday was by far the marquis match-up in the Western Hockey League. Brandon got things going first in this one when Kale Clague scored for the visitors making it 1-0 Wheat Kings. The Hurricanes evened the score a few minutes later when Brayden Burke put home his 22nd of the season tying things at 1-1. Before the end of the period, the Canes took their first and only lead of the night. Egor Babenko, who's been on a bit of a goal scoring drought, scored his 26th of the season with about a minute and half left in the period giving Lethbridge a 2-1 lead through 20 minutes of play.
No scoring in the second period of this game, but things started to pick up in the third with more offence, all by the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Wheaties tied the game just 45 seconds into the third period when Tim McGauley scored make it a 2-2 game. Less than two minutes later, Nolan Patrick scored what would turn out to be the game winner, giving the Wheaties a 3-2 lead. Brandon added a pair of insurance goals after that, one each by John Quenneville and Tyler Coulter and that would cap a four goal third period, giving Brandon a 5-2 come-from-behind victory.
The shots were close in this game with Brandon narrowly out shooting Lethbridge 26-24. Neither team scored with the man advantage. Lethbridge going 0/7 on the power play and the the Wheat Kings 0/3.
The Hurricanes close out a mini home stand Saturday (Feb. 27) when they host the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Canes will head on the road next week to kick off the final couple of weeks in the regular season.
Every point is super critical now, especially if the Hurricanes hope to take first place in the Eastern Conference. There is still plenty of work to be done in these last ten games. Ending this losing skid is first on the list for sure and then finding their groove again heading into the post-season.