It’s down to a best-of-three as the Lethbridge Hurricanes fell 5-2 in Calgary on Thursday night and the Hitmen evened up their first-round WHL playoff series to make it two games apiece.
“I thought it was a good hockey game,” Lethbridge Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio said. “It was tied going into the third. We had our chances to score, we just didn’t.”
For the second straight game, the Hurricanes fell behind early. Riley Stotts opened the scoring for Calgary just 3:28 into the first period.
Lethbridge responded early in the second period though, when Jake Elmer beat Hitmen goaltender Jack McNaughton on a shot from the slot to tie the game.
In a back-and-forth contest Calgary’s James Malm and the Hurricanes’ Logan Barlage would exchange tallies midway through the frame to make it a 2-2 tie through 40 minutes.
The game hung in the balance in the third period when the Hitmen started to take over. Just 1:44 in to the final frame Josh Prokop took a pass from Carson Focht and deftly chipped a shot over ‘Canes goalie Carl Tetachuk to give Calgary a 3-2 lead.
A few minutes after the Prokop tally, the Hitmen would cash in on the man advantage. Vladislav Yeryomenko sent a wrist shot on net through a maze of bodies to put Calgary out-front 4-2.
The ‘Canes pushed hard to get back into the game later in the period, but McNaughton made several excellent saves to preserve the win. The Hurricanes out-shot the Hitmen 39-35 on the night, but ran into a hot goalie in McNaughton.
“He’s playing well,” Kisio said. “We’re going to have to get traffic in front of him and we’re going to have to do a better job around the net. There’s puck’s there and lots of rebounds, we just have to find them.”
The series now shifts back to Lethbridge for Game 5, which will take place at the Nicholas Sheran Ice Centre on Saturday night. The Hurricanes are displaced from the Enmax Centre as preparations are underway for the 2019 World Men’s Curling Championship.
“I think with our team we can play in any rink,” Hurricanes forward Logan Barlage said. “I think that this rink is going to work out too. It’s a smaller rink we’re just going to have to adjust to it, but I think we’ll be able to get it done in that barn for sure.”
Game 6 will take place at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Sunday afternoon.