The Lethbridge Hurricanes are on the brink of playoff elimination after a game 5 loss to the Calgary Hitmen Saturday night in Lethbridge. In front of their home fans at Nicholas Sheran Arena, the ‘Canes lost a wild 6-5 game and now trail Calgary (3-2) in the best-of-seven series.
“It was a weird kind of game where you could tell from the start that the greasier team was going to win,” Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio said. “We just weren’t greasy enough.”
For the third straight game, the Hurricanes fell behind early, as Calgary got goals from Luke Coleman and Mark Kastelic in the first period. The ‘Canes would cut the deficit to 2-1 before the intermission, though, when Jordy Bellerive snapped a shot from the high circle past Hitmen goaltender Jack McNaughton.
The game started to get wild in the second period as a goal fest ensued. The two teams exchanged goals to start the period, then at the 4:45 mark Vladislav Yeryomenko’s shot from the circle pinballed its way past ‘Canes goalie Carl Tetachuk, giving Calgary a 4-2 lead. After giving up four goals on 20 shots, Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio pulled Tetachuk in favour of fellow rookie Bryan Thomson.
The move seemed to spark the Hurricanes. On power play at 8:44 of the second period, Nick Henry deflected in a Jordy Bellerive shot to cut the lead to 4-3. Four minutes later the ‘Canes struck again on a man advantage, when Logan Barlage tipped in a point shot from Igor Merezhko, evening the game at 4-4.
The ‘Canes fired 14 of their 34 shots on goal in the second period, in what was their best stretch of the hockey game.
“There were a lot of ups and downs and I think we just have to take advantage of our highs and play consistently,” Hurricanes forward Jake Leschyshyn said. “We can’t have those let-downs. When they do, we need to bounce back quickly and I think that’s what the difference was tonight.”
The Hitmen stole momentum back late in the second period when Cael Zimmerman and Kastelic scored to give Calgary a 6-4 lead through forty minutes.
In a move rarely seen, Kisio went back to starting goaltender Tetachuk to start the third period, after he was pulled earlier in the game.
“It wasn’t him (his fault) he was OK we thought,” Kisio said. “We needed a little bit of a spark and I thought we got it. And then we went back to him and I thought he was fine after that.”
Leschyshyn scored on the power play with 4:29 left in the game to get the ‘Canes within a goal at 6-5, but the home side was never able to get the equalizer.
The game was played at Nicholas Sheran Arena because of the Men’s World Curling Championships taking place at the Enmax Centre. Playing in a much smaller venue than usual certainly provided a unique feel for coachs and players.
“It was cool and a different environment,” Hurricanes captain Jordy Bellerive said. “It was fun and there was a lot of energy. The fans are great. Obviously, a different building but they were great and they helped us as much as they could.”
Following Saturday’s defeat, the ‘Canes now find themselves in the precarious situation of being one loss away from elimination.
“We just kinda have to get our confidence back,” Bellerive said. “We haven’t been in this situation in a while. So it’s kind of exciting for us to be an underdog here for a game and show what we got when we’re desperate and I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Game six will be played Sunday in Calgary at the Scotiabank Saddledome at 4:00 p.m.