RED DEER - The Lethbridge Hurricanes had control of things for most of their game against the Red Deer Rebels on Wednesday, Jan. 2, but an apparent own goal and a late powerplay goal against in the final two minutes of regulation cost them as Red Deer clawed back before scoring twice in the shootout to beat Lethbridge 5-4.
With newly acquired goaltender Liam Hughes in net, the Hurricanes started well thanks to Jake Leschyshyn's 25th goal of the season that opened the scoring just 3:48 into the 1st period. A short time later Calen Addison fired one home from the point to make it 2-0 Lethbridge at 10:12.
The Rebels would answer that quickly, however, as just 46 seconds later forward Jeff de Wit got Red Deer on the board and make it 2-1. That's how the 1st period would end, with Red Deer outshooting the Hurricanes 8-7.
Early in the 2nd period, Dylan Cozens would make it 3-1 Lethbridge when he fired a hot shot past Rebels goaltender Ethan Anders. The teams would trade a few chances, but the score remained at 3-1 until late in the middle frame when Zak Smith beat out an icing to set up Brandon Hagel and cut the Hurricanes lead to 3-2 at 17:08. The teams headed to the dressing rooms for the second intermission with the score still sitting at 3-2 in favour of Lethbridge, and the Hurricanes turned up the head in the 2nd period in the shot department with a 13-5 advantage. Just before the six-minute mark of the 3rd period, Taylor Ross buried a wraparound past Anders to regain a two-goal lead for Lethbridge at 4-2
Red Deer pulled Anders for the extra attacker with 2:12 left, and not long after Ty Prefontaine appeared to fire the puck into his own net to cut the Hurricanes lead down to 4-3. With only 6.6 seconds left to play in the game, and after a Taylor Ross charging penalty, a Brandon Hagel shot from the corner through was deflected in front of Hughes and the game was all tied up at 4-4. Shots in the 3rd were 12-10 in favour of Red Deer. Off to overtime, but after five minutes nothing was decided so it required a shootout. Jordy Bellerive was up first for the Hurricanes and buried past Anders, while Brett Davis missed first for the Rebels. The situation then flipped, with Hagel scoring and Leschyshyn missing. Dylan Cozens took the third shot, but hit the crossbar and then Cameron Hausinger popped home the shootout winner to end the game.
Final shots finished at 32-30 in favour of Lethbridge. The Hurricanes went 0-for-2 on the power play in the game, while Red Deer finished 1-for-4. With the shootout loss, the Hurricanes record sits at 19-10-4-4, good for 46 points and now just three points back of the Edmonton Oil Kings for first place in the Central Division with three games in hand.
Lethbridge will return home on Friday, Jan. 4, for a game against the Vancouver Giants.
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