Rookie Zack Stringer played the role of overtime hero, lifting the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 3-2 victory over the Red Deer Rebels Saturday night. Starting goalie Carl Tetachuk needed only 18 saves to earn the preseason victory.
The Hurricanes came out strong to start the contest, led by overage defenceman Koltraine Wilson who set the tone early with a thunderous hit and followed it up with more physical play. Although he received a minor penalty, Wilson’s teammates seemed to feed off the tone set by killing off the disadvantage.
Building off that momentum, it was the home team that struck first. Rylan Thiessen fired home his second of the preseason at 10:32 of the period. Assists on the play went to Alex Thacker and Oliver Okuliar.
The Rebels responded just over five minutes later. While killing a penalty, Arshdeep Bains picked up a bouncing puck and led a two-on-one the other way. Chris Douglas directed a cross-crease pass behind Tetachuk to tie this game. That was Douglas’ first of the preseason, assisted by Bains and Ryan Gottfried.
That was it for the first period. The shot clock read 9-5 in favour of the Hurricanes.
The teams traded chances in a pretty evenly-played second period. Chase Wheatcroft had the best chance for the Hurricanes, as he was open in the slot but fired the puck just over the bar. The Rebels’ best opportunity came on a power-play chance mid-period, but Jordan Borysiuk sailed a shot high.
The game was also 1-1 through 40 minutes, and the home side continued to lead the shot clock 17-15.
The chess match-style game continued through much of the third period until Zak Smith broke the deadlock for the Rebels. Pouncing on a loose puck in the slot, he snapped it home to give the visitors a 2-1 edge.
It didn’t take long for the Hurricanes to respond. A Wheatcroft goal pulled the teams even. Okuliar and Alex Cotton were credited with the assists. Neither side could find a regulation winner, so off to overtime the teams went. Shots at the end of 60 minutes were 27-20 for the Hurricanes.
Lethbridge started the extra frame a man up after a late third period penalty to Red Deer’s Smith. Unable to capitalize with the extra man, they remained in control and the pressure paid off. Stringer, after hitting a post earlier in the game, made no mistake this time around, firing a rebound past rookie netminder Eric Ward. It was Stringer’s first of the preseason, assisted by Wilson and Wheatcroft.
Final shots read 31-20 for the Hurricanes.
Shoot the breeze: Both teams were a perfect five-for-five on the penalty kill. Tetachuk went the distance for the Hurricanes, recording 18 saves. Rebels goalies split duty with each playing 30 minutes. Byron Fancy recorded 10 saves in the start, while Ward was the busier of the two with 18 saves in relief.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a home-and-home preseason set with the Swift Current Broncos — Friday the 13th in Lethbridge and Saturday the 14th back in Swift Current.