A late-game penalty sealed the game for the Lethbridge Hurricanes as they went on to drop the Red Deer Rebels 4-2.
With three minutes and 10 seconds to play in the third period, Mason Ward accidentally put the puck over the glass in the Rebels defensive zone and the Hurricanes power play made them pay.
With just 19 seconds remaining in the power play, rookie Zack Stringer put home his fourth goal of the season. Parked in front of Byron Fancy, Stringer tipped a shot from Noah Boyko and put the game out of reach for Red Deer.
The Hurricanes power play finished the game 2-for-5 and killed off all five penalties they had.
For the Rebels, it was a missed opportunity. The Hurricanes were without Calen Addison, Dylan Cozens and Oliver Okuliar. All three are away at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships training camps.
Red Deer opened the scoring in this game in the second, after a first period that definitely showed the Hurricanes were missing their big three.
The Rebels outshot and out-chanced the Hurricanes through 20 minutes. Heading down the tunnel, Red Deer should have been brimming with confidence, putting 11 shots on Byran Thomson to the four that Lethbridge put on Fancy.
It was a much better first period than the game played between these two teams less than three weeks prior. In that game, the Hurricanes had five goals before the game was 20 minutes old.
Just 3:43 into the second period, the Rebels scored the opening goal of the contest on a rush into the Hurricanes end. Arshdeep Bains made a drop pass to a streaking Ben King. His shot was perfectly placed, just inside the post, and King had his seventh goal of the campaign.
As they tend to do with their high scoring offence, the Hurricanes marched right back and scored. Just one minute and 41 seconds later, Boyko scored his eighth of the season. Using Chase Leslie as the screen, Boyko accepted a Logan Barlage pass and made good on his shot.
22 seconds later, that high powered offensive machine struck again. Justin Hall scored a nifty unassisted goal. He toe-dragged the puck around Dawson Barteaux, then switched to his backhand to beat Fancy.
Just like that, the Hurricanes were in control.
Before the halfway point of the second period, the Hurricanes made it a two-goal lead.
After killing off the first penalty of a 5-on-3, the Rebels had a breakdown in their own end. From behind the net, Hall passed the puck to an open Alex Thacker who beat an unprepared Fancy for his third of the season.
The Rebels weren’t going to go away quietly though. Just a minute and five seconds later, Jace Isley scored his first WHL goal on a similar play to the last Hurricanes goal. Dallon Melin hustled to a dump-in and got his stick on the puck. He put it out in front of the net as Isley was streaking towards Thomson. The lead was cut to a single goal.
The third period was much tighter and the Rebels could not convert on their own 5-on-3 advantage. They were granted a full minute and eleven seconds to even things up. Thomson kept the puck out of the net and the penalty killers did a good job of clearing the middle of the ice of pucks.
The final score was 4-2 for the Hurricanes and with the win, the Hurricanes were able to keep pace with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Edmonton Oil Kings, who also played and won on Wednesday night.
Rebel Yell… The three stars in the building were 1) Noah Boyko 2) Justin Hall 3) Byran Thomson. Red Deer outshot Lethbridge 32-19, led by 4 shots from Chris Douglas; Noah Boyko and Dino Kambeitz had 3 each for Lethbridge. The teams combined for 61 minutes in penalties including 4 fighting majors and a 5-minute major to Blake Gustafson about 13 minutes into the first period, when he cross-checked Nick Dorrington into the stanchion area near the benches. Red Deer takes on Medicine Hat on Friday and Swift Current on Saturday to round out the schedule before the holiday break. Both games are at the Westerner Park Centrium. Lethbridge hosts the first part of a home-and-home with Calgary on Saturday. They then head to Calgary for the return match on Sunday afternoon.