Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Hurricanes hit new heights in Game 3 win over Pats

The Hurricanes mob Jadon Joseph (#23) after he scores.
    LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – Head coach Brent Kisio pretty much had no complaints about his Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
    Just 16 seconds into Game 3 of their WHL Eastern Conference championship series with the Regina Pats, the Hurricanes beared down on the Regina net on an odd man rush, and Lethbridge defenceman Brennan Menell cut across the face of the Pats net to tuck home his fifth goal of the post-season to give his side a 1-0 lead. Menell’s goal helped bring the 5,178 spectators that squeezed into the Enmax Centre to their feet.
    The raucous crowd backed the Hurricanes all night, who put together a textbook 3-1 playoff victory. The win gives the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final with the Pats. Game 4 is set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. local time at the Enmax Centre.
    “I liked that we stuck with our plan,” said Kisio. “We were getting pucks deep.
    “We were managing a lot better. I thought we played hard. It was real good 60-minute effort, and it was probably one of our better ones of the post-season.
Brennan Menell breaks into the offensive zone.
    “We played all four lines. I thought all our lines were skating well, and that is why we had a good 60 minutes.”
    Besides being able to roll when they had the momentum, the Hurricanes stayed steady when the Pats carried play. While the host side scored early, the Pats pushed back late in the first period gaining momentum from a power-play chance and firing a bunch of stops on Lethbridge netminder Stuart Skinner, who stood tall making 13 saves during the opening 20 minutes.
    Skinner’s sound play was one theme in the contest.
    “He (Skinner) is a good goalie,” said Pats captain Adam Brooks. “He probably one of the best ones for his age in Canada.
    “You have to do a little bit extra to beat him. You’re not going to beat him on straight shots. You have to get rebounds.
    “You have to get effort. The pucks were laying there. We just have to work to get in there.”
    Shortly after the halfway point of the second period, the Pats pulled even at 1-1, when winger Dawson Leedahl tipped home the point shot from defenceman Josh Mahura.
    The visitors had a big chance go ahead a short time after Leedahl netted the equalizer, when Hurricanes rookie centre Jadon Joseph was penalized for slashing.
Tyler Brown makes a stop in close for the Pats.
    Star offensive-defence Connor Hobbs wired a point shot on that man advantage that hit both posts of the Lethbridge goal and stayed out.
    When the penalty expired, Hurricanes defenceman Brady Pouteau was able to get the puck to Joseph as he stepped out of the penalty box. Working with a partial breakaway, Joseph wired a snap shot past Pats netminder Tyler Brown to put the Hurricanes up 2-1 heading into the second intermission.
    Pats head coach and general manager John Paddock said Menell’s goal at the start of the first period and Joseph’s tally were key turning points in the contest.
    “We obviously weren’t good enough,” said Paddock. “In saying that, once we tied it up there we had like four or five good chances on that power play.
Egor Babenko cuts into the offensive zone for the Hurricanes.
    “It was like a two-goal swing, when the guy (Joseph) comes out of the box and scores. We should have scored on the power play, and the first goal shouldn’t have happened.”
    At the 4:08 mark of the third period, the Hurricanes closed out the game’s scoring when left-winger Egor Babenko came down the right wing and wired home a set up pass from captain Tyler Wong.
    Inside the final minute of play in the third, Joseph received a big ovation from the Enmax Centre crowd for a fierce forechecking shift in the Regina zone that killed off some key seconds.
    Skinner made 28 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Hurricanes. Brown turned away 24 shots to take the loss in goal for the Pats.
    “I thought we played really well,” said Menell. “We came out to a good start, and we finished it.
    “We didn’t have any letdowns. Everyone played hard. Of course Skinner, he was amazing again tonight.”
    NOTE - Pats standout winger Austin Wagner left the contest in the second period and didn’t return. Paddock didn’t have a status update on Wagner after the game.

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