LETHBRIDGE – A day after the hockey world was shaken by the loss of 15 of their own, the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Brandon Wheat Kings paid tribute to the Humboldt Broncos – along with other organizations throughout the WHL, NHL, and even MLB.
Players, hockey staff, and on-ice officials gathered in a circle at centre ice for a moment of silence and the singing of the national anthem ahead of game two of their second-round series Saturday night, April 7, in a show of unity and respect for those lost and the 14 others injured in Friday’s tragedy. A number of fans joined in the effort as well, wearing the Broncos’ colours of green and yellow.
Following a remarkable comeback win (more on that below), Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio met with the media, saying he was proud of how his team handled an extremely difficult day.
“I thought going to centre ice at the start was a great way to show that we're a family,” said Kisio. “Playoffs are playoffs, you play against each other and it's hard, but there's a bigger picture, and when you play hockey it's a tight community and everyone's a family at the end of the day.
“The one thing about the game, is when you get on the ice it gives you a little bit of a release for a few hours to go do what you love,” Kisio continued. “And even coaching, you know, you can kind of worry about the guys and just worry about the game, and when it's over it sinks back in again.”
Hurricanes captain Jordy Bellerive also spoke to the media, acknowledging the weight they carried through the day and talking about how they plan to continue moving forward.
“It leaves a lot of us with heavy hearts. A couple [Broncos] were really close to a couple guys on our team,” he explained. “I think it's important for everyone in the community and for us to kind of stick together and fight through these things together, and I think that's what we did tonight.”
Hurricanes complete major comeback in game two
Following the ceremony, the Hurricanes got off to a strong start – outshooting the Wheat Kings 14-5 through the opening period – but found themselves trailing 1-0.
The second period would then see Brandon score three goals within the first 4:27 – including one while shorthanded – putting them up 4-0 and seemingly out of reach, as they ran circles around a Lethbridge team that seemed to slow considerably and couldn’t connect on their passes.
That was until Tate Olson found Bellerive open off to the side of the Wheat Kings’ net, setting up the captain for his seventh goal of the post-season with five minutes to play in the middle frame. Then, just two minutes later, Dylan Cozens put on a terrific individual effort while killing a penalty, by fighting off a Wheat Kings defender and teeing up a pass for Taylor Ross, who cut the deficit to 4-2.
Bellerive would pick up his second of the night halfway through the third, and Jake Elmer would tie the game while on the powerplay, with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.
Moving into overtime, the Hurricanes continued to surge, getting a majority of the quality scoring chances. The pressure would finally prove too much for Brandon late in the extra period, as Olson completed the comeback for the home side, pinching in from the point and beating Wheat Kings goalie Dylan Myskiw for the win.
The ‘Canes now lead the best-of-seven series 2-0, with games three and four coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday in Brandon.
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