LETHBRIDGE – The Lethbridge Hurricanes threw everything but the kitchen sink at Kootenay Ice goaltender Jesse Makaj, and late in the 3rd period on Wednesday, Jan. 9, it looked like he might will his team to overtime.
But then off a net-mouth scramble, Jake Elmer buried his 19th of the season past Makaj to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 lead and they’d never look back.
Hurricanes Head Coach Brent Kisio was complimentary of the Ice’s backstop in his postgame comments.
“Their goalie played real well, give him credit because he made a lot of big saves,” Kisio continued. “On the flip side of that, I thought our goaltender played real well too, especially in the 1st period when we allowed way too many odd-man rushes against because they could’ve been up by a few.”
In the 1st period, a turnover by Lethbridge in the Kootenay end led to a partial odd-man rush, and Ice forward Connor McClennon beat Hurricanes goaltender Carl Tetachuk upstairs to give the Ice a 1-0 lead at 4:19.
After the Ice opened the scoring, some sloppy play in the Hurricanes own end led to Tetachuk making a fantastic save in tight after a turnover a few minutes later.
Lethbridge would get on the board after a great heads up pass down low by Calen Addison to Taylor Ross, who centred it to Dylan Cozens at the front of the net for an easy tap in just past the seven-minute mark of the 1st to make it 1-1.
After tying it up, Cozens had another chance from the slot but was stopped by Makaj.
That was a theme of the night, as at Ty Prefontaine came right now main street a short time later but was stopped by Makaj.
At 12:26 Hurricanes captain Jordy Bellerive blew one past Makaj on a one-timer from Prefontaine off a faceoff win to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead over the Ice.
Makaj then made an incredible stick save on a Nick Henry breakaway with 3:30 to play in the 1st to keep it 2-1 before the Ice quickly went back the other way and Tetachuk was forced to make a big pad stop.
The 1st period would come to a close with Lethbridge still leading Kootenay 2-1. Shots were 24-12 in favour of the Hurricanes, in the opening frame.
Lethbridge continued to pile up chances early in the 2nd period but couldn’t solve Makaj for any insurance. Then Ice forward Jakob Smallwood scored off a faceoff to knot the game up at 2-2 at 12:22 of the 2nd.
That’s how things would end up after two periods. Shots remained in Lethbridge’s favour at 31-18.
Similar story in the 3rd period, as the Hurricanes continued to get a ton of high-quality chances but Makaj kept making save after save.
Finally, after another big net mouth scramble and after a number of big stops by Makaj, Jake Elmer would give the Hurricanes a 3-2 lead with 3:18 to play and that’s how this one would finish.
Final shots in the game were 54-22 for the Hurricanes, who went 0-for-1 on the powerplay and killed all four Kootenay powerplays.
Kisio was pleased with the way his team competed and says the message was just to keep going because they were getting chances.
“Offensively I liked the way we played, we created a lot of opportunities and the guys on the bench were really positive because they knew if we kept after it we’d get one,” Kisio said.
Jordy Bellerive echoed that sentiment, saying when you put up that many shots you have to stay confident.
“Realize that one of them is going to go in at some point, that was our mindset, and it worked out for us.”
Lethbridge has now won three straight games, giving the club a record of 22-10-4-4 which has them sitting three points up on both the Edmonton Oil Kings and Red Deer Rebels for first place in the Central Division.
Now the Hurricanes will prepare to play three games in three days on the weekend.
On Friday, Jan. 11, they will welcome those Oil Kings to the ENMAX Centre before the Kootenay Ice come back to town on Saturday, Jan. 12. Lethbridge then wraps up the weekend up in Edmonton, where they’ll take on the Oil Kings for the second time in three nights.
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