After a disappointing road trip through the US division, the Lethbridge Hurricanes returned home Friday night for a divisional showdown against the Red Deer Rebels. Jake Leschyshyn Nick Henry and Igor Merezkho each had two goals while Carl Tetachuk stopped 26 shots for a 6-2 victory in the first game of a season high six-game homestand.
Ethan Anders stood tall early for the visitors stopping the first eight shots he faced before the Hurricanes were rewarded with an early power play. Leschyshyn found the back of the net on a seeing eye shot from the faceoff dot for his 28th of the season. The power play goal was assisted by Jordy Bellerive and Calen Addison.
Anders continued to keep his team in it as the period went on including a beautiful pad stop on a Talyor Ross shorthanded breakaway.
Before the period ended the Hurricanes pressure finally paid off again as Nick Henry put home a rebound off a Logan Barlage blast that hit the crossbar. That marker was Henry’s 19th of the season. Tetachuk stood tall to help steal that period for the home side stopping all 12 Rebels shots including a late breakaway.
Josh Tarzwell started the second period off with a bang as he capped off the early period pressure from Red Deer. Tarzwell’s seventh of the season cut the deficit to one.
It seemed the Rebels had the momentum in the opening minutes of the frame until the Hurricane captain Bellerive took over a shift willing himself to the net which created a glorious chance in front of Anders which was capped off by Leschysyn’s second of the game and 29th of the season.
The highlight for many fans in the second came not long after the third goal for the home side when Bellerive answered the call from Rebel Brandon Hagel in a spirited tilt. Both gentlemen threw some haymakers in the bout that should be scored a draw. Both teams were energized by the superstar fight but it was the home team that capitalized. Nick Henry tucked in his second of the game, but it was rookie Zack Stringer who would get the big cheer as the local product recorded his first WHL point assisting on Henry’s 20th of the season.
Red Deer made a goalie change after the Henry goal as Byron Fancy would relieve Anders. The move sparked the visiting team aas Oleg Zaytsev would pull one back late in the period for the visitors, his ninth of the year. Hagel got the lone assist on the play to help set up what would be a big third period. Shots after two would favour Lethbridge 25-21.
Stay at home defencemen Igor Merezkho was the big story of the final period. The Ukraine product blasted home his second of the season on a power play just three minutes in. Henry and Jake Elmer with the helpers. The Rebels would get a chance to close the gap with a power play of their own and Head Coach Brent Sutter would elect to pull Fancy for the extra attacker.
That move would not pay off, Merezhko would gather a loose puck and fire it the length of the ice into the net for his second of the night and third on the year to seal the win for the Hurricanes. Final shots were also on the Hurricanes side at 29-28.
Shooting the breeze... Again these two teams played a playoff style, no love lost type game, which of course gave both sides chances on special teams. Hurricanes went 2-4 on the power play while the Rebels had no luck going 0-6 and allowing a shorthanded marker, albeit into the empty net. The Rebels did fair well in the faceoff dot winning 41 to the Hurricanes 31. Zach Stringer’s home debut was sensational, the rookie not recorded his first point but showed strong play at both ends of the ice and was very noticeable on the backcheck playing alongside Dylan Cozen most the night. Next up for the Hurricanes is a date with Swift Current Broncos Saturday in Lethbridge. While Red Deer returns home to welcome the Calgary Hitmen also on Saturday. The Hurricanes are now 17-7-2-2 in their last 28 games, the win vaults them into second in the division, leapfrogging both the Rebels and Medicine Hat Tigers.