Erica Perreaux

Special Teams take center stage as Hurricanes down Winterhawks

In a game that featured a combined 12 power play chances, It was the Lethbridge Hurricanes that were able to cash in and outlast the Portland Winterhawks 4-2 in thrilling fashion. Rookie netminder Bryan Thomson made 18 saves to record the win.

The game didn’t start well for the Hurricanes. Just 12 seconds in Johnny Ludvig took advantage of a misplay, sliding the game’s opening goal past Thomson. Ludvig’s third goal of the season was assisted by Robbie Fromm-Delorme and Jake Gricius. In a back and forth period that would be the only goal. The teams traded chances but neither Thomson or his Portland counterpart – Joel Hofer would give.

Chase Wheatcroft (photo-Erica Perreaux)

The game really took off in the second period. Portland struck early again but this time it was short handed. Nick Cicek collected a loose puck in the Hurricanes zone and blasted home his first WHL goal to double the visitors lead at 2-0. His SHG was assisted by Reece Newkirk and Gricius.

Just under six minutes later another short handed goal was scored, this one by the Hurricanes courtesy of home town boy D-Jay Jerome. Jerome just managed to get it through  Hofer. It was Jerome’s second of the season. That built some momentum for the Hurricanes.

After another penalty kill, Hurricane Chase Wheatcroft jumped out of the box and found himself on a breakaway where he made no mistake sliding home his first WHL goal and tying the game at 2-2.

So we hit reset on the scoreboard but that didn’t last long because two minutes later, on a power play, it was Dylan Cozens putting Lethbridge ahead for the first time in this game. Cozens ripped home his fifth of the season from Alex Cotton and Alex Thacker. The home team thus took a 3-2 lead into the break.

Much like the first period, the final period was a fast paced, back and forth affair. Both Thomson and Hofer were equal to the task. Portland was unable to find the tying goal though and pulled Hofer for the extra attacker but it was be the Hurricanes finishing this one off into the empty net. Zack Stringer sealed it with less than a second on the clock, making it a 4-2 final.

Nick Cicek (photo-Erica Perreaux)

After the win, Lethridge head coach Brent Kisio had some praise for the way his team battled and the importance of the power play goal.  “I think once we settle down and go back to the way we’ve been playing lately and playing this year. We were a lot better and I think our power play wasn’t great to start but they (the power play unit) stepped up and got us on a roll.”

Kisio credited his goalie for bouncing back after giving up an early goal. ” Thom was outstanding. You know, I thought he controlled his rebounds and made a big statement.”

Shooting the breeze: Final power play tallies saw Portland finish 0-for-5 and Lethbridge 1-of-7. Both teams had a short handed goal.

There were two WHL first goals scored in this game. Portland’s Nick Cicek and Lethbridge’s Chase Wheatcroft. Wheatcroft was fired up when asked about it and even took a shot at his Dad who once played for the Hurricanes  “It’s funny because I saw my dad’s initial side (the penalty box) because of all the time he spent in there and I got a lucky bounce when I got out and I mean I can’t ruin that chance so I got lucky and  put it in. It was a great experience. I will never forget it.”

Chase’s Dad- Jim Wheatcroft had 426 penalty minutes over two seasons with Lethbridge in 1987-89.

Next up for the Hurricanes is a road trip to Saskatchewan starting next Friday in Prince Albert, while the Winterhawks head up highway 2 to Calgary for a date with the Hitmen on Sunday afternoon.

 

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