Hurricanes clinch playoff berth with 4-1 win over Wheat Kings

By Aaron Mahoney (@Mahones93 on Twitter)
March 6, 2019 - 10:46pm Updated: March 7, 2019 - 9:28am

LETHBRIDGE, AB – It’s official – the Lethbridge Hurricanes are going back to the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

Thanks to another solid performance from rookie goaltender Carl Tetachuk, and the first Western Hockey League goal for fellow rookie Zach Stringer, the Hurricanes defeated the Brandon Wheat Kings 4-1 on Wednesday, Mar. 6.

Lethbridge came out flying and hitting damn near everything that moved, but thanks to a solid 1 st period by Wheat Kings goaltender Jiri Patera the game remained scoreless after the first 20 minutes.

Shots after the opening frame favoured Lethbridge by a 10-8 margin.

Early in the 2nd period with Scott Mahovlich in the box for goaltender interference, it would actually be the Hurricanes striking short-handed. And who else but Jake Elmer who beat Patera for his 37th of the season which extended his goal scoring streak to 13 straight games.

Nearly two minutes later, at 7:35, Jake Leschyshyn scored to make it 2-0 for the Hurricanes off a nice pass by Nick Henry.

On a powerplay of their own late in the period, it would be Leschyshyn again off a feed from Henry burying a powerplay goal past Patera to make it 3-0 for Lethbridge heading into the second intermission.

It would be the 3rd period where local product Zach Stringer, just called up to the Hurricanes after the AAA ‘Canes season ended earlier this week, would get himself on the board.

After a nice move in tight by Logan Barlage, the puck squeaked through Patera and sat in the blue ice for only a few seconds before Stringer was johnny on the spot to give Lethbridge a 4-0 lead.

Unfortunately for the other local kid, just a minute later Luka Burzan blew past the Hurricanes defence and tucked the puck past Tetachuk to spoil his shutout and make it 4-1 at 11:09.

That score would hold up as the final, with the shot tally finishing at 38-28 for the Hurricanes.

Lethbridge was a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill to go along with Elmer’s shorthanded goal and finished 1-for-4 on the powerplay.

Head Coach Brent Kisio says it had a playoff atmosphere considering his club is chasing first place in the Central Division while Brandon is fighting for a playoff spot.

“I thought our crowd was great tonight, lots of good energy and it kind of filtered onto the ice.”

Kisio called clinching the playoffs a nice accomplishment, but that they expected to make the playoffs.

“Now we got to keep moving up the standings here and see what we can do in the playoffs,” Kisio added.

And as for his thoughts on Stringer’s first WHL goal, while he was happy for him, they have high expectations for their 1st round draft pick from a year ago.

“He’s playing high in the lineup and we expect him to score and get points for us,” Kisio continued. “If he works hard and does things right off the ice he’s going to have a good career for the Hurricanes.”

For the kid himself, Stringer just said it’s nice to have that first one out of the way and that hopefully they’ll be more to come.

With the win, Lethbridge now boasts a record of 36-18-5-5 and 82 points. That puts them in a tie with the Edmonton Oil Kings in points, but due to Edmonton having a game in hand, the Hurricanes continue to hold down second place.

Next up for Lethbridge is a pair of crucial home games on the weekend against a pair of Central Division rivals.

First up on Friday, Mar. 8, the Medicine Hat Tigers roll into town and then the following night the Hurricanes host the Calgary Hitmen in their final home game of the regular season.

Hurricanes winning streak hits five games following 5-2 win over Tigers

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