Brandon Harder/ Regina Post

Blades down Hurricanes in shootout thriller

Despite a dominant first period, the Lethbridge Hurricanes were unable to finish off the Saskatoon Blades who got a late tying goal from Zach Huber and the game-winner in a shootout from Kyle Crnkovic for a 4-3 victory. Nolan Maier made 40 saves and stopped all three Hurricanes shooters in the shootout to record the win. Carl Tetachuk saved 26 in the loss.

The opening frame was all Lethbridge, outshooting Saskatoon 19-3. It seemed the Blades had no answer for the Hurricanes attack, and if not for Maier’s outstanding performance, it would have been a runaway game.

It wasn’t until the 15th shot of the period that the Hurricanes finally solved Maier. Alex Thacker picked up a loose puck and burst through the Blade defense, putting it over the outstretched glove of the netminder for his second on the season. Just under two minutes later and short-handed, Oliver Okuliar flew in and wristed a beauty top corner over the glove of Maier for his 19th of the season. The goal gave the home side a 2-0 lead headed into the intermission

Saskatoon, lucky to be down only two after 20, came out flying in the second period and their hard work paid off. Eric Flochuk tapped home a rebound on the doorstep, converting on the power play for the Blades and pulling them back into this game. Florchuk’s 10th of the season was assisted by Crnokvic and Aiden De La Gorgendiere.

With that goal, the Blades had life. Pushing the play, they outshot the Hurricanes 14-9 in the period, and with 1:01 left in the second, they tied the game at 2. Jayden Wiens recorded his fourth on the season to send this game into the intermission tied.

The Hurricanes took back control of the hockey game early in the 3rd period. Just 1:17 in, Okuliar scored his WHL-leading 20th goal of the season to give his team the 3-2 lead. The teams went back and forth for the balance of the period until Saskatoon found a way to claw back in the game. Zach Huber gave the visitors life with his seventh of the season. The late equalizer set up overtime.

Overtime was packed with end-to-end action, highlighted by a shot off the post by Crnokvic at one end and a near miss by Zach Stringer at the other. Both netminders made a couple of key stops. This game required a shootout.

Crnokvic was the only man to convert his shot, beating Tetachuk and lifting the Blades to the 4-3 win.

D-Jay Jerome reflected on the game and getting ready for the next one. “You know, it’s one game of the season. As much as it sucks to lose, it’s one game in a season.”

Shooting the breeze:

The win marks two in a row for Saskatoon, who came into town having dropped the first four games of their road trip. They finish a seven-game swing in Medicine Hat Saturday night. With the win, Maier now sits fifth among goalies in wins with 11.

The Blades are now 3-0-0-0 against the Hurricanes this season.

Hurricanes forward Dylan Cozens had just a single assist on the night, but he continues to lead the league in points at 40, tied with Aliaksei Protas of the Raiders. Cozens now sits second in goals at 18 behind teammate Okuliar who has 20.

Next up for the Hurricanes is a trip to Medicine Hat on Tuesday to battle the rival Tigers before welcoming the Everett Silvertips to the Enmax Centre Wednesday night.

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