When the Western Hockey League (WHL) scheduled the Lethbridge Hurricanes to play three games in three nights, three weekends in a row, the team knew the task at hand was a tough one.
The ‘Canes played their first three-in-three set against the Red Deer Rebels over the weekend, coming away with wins on Friday and Saturday, before a lackluster performance in the series finale on Sunday.
“I was happy until last night,” head coach Brent Kisio said with a laugh.
“It’s always a little bit sour when you lose that last game, but I think — big picture — if you look at it, it was a step for our group, we played a lot better.”
Friday’s game was a wild affair, especially in the first 20 minutes. After opening the scoring at just 2:37, the Hurricanes allowed four goals in less than five minutes to fall behind 4-1 early in the game.
Starting goaltender Bryan Thomson was pulled after about six minutes, allowing three goals on five shots before making way for Carl Tetachuk.
Tetachuk allowed a goal early before the Hurricanes offense heated up.
Goals from Zack Stringer, Jett Jones, and Liam Kindree made the game 4-3 before the first period concluded, and Chase Wheatcroft netted his first of the year just 34 seconds into the second period to tie things at 4.
Wheatcroft and Jones potted a second goal each, as the ‘Canes won their first game of the 2021 season by a score of 7-4.
“We had a pretty good start but fell behind,” Kisio said.
“I think we all felt pretty comfortable that we could just keep with what we were doing and we could battle back and be in a good spot.”
“We had a really strong second and third period in that game and found a way to win it.”
Lethbridge’s winning ways continued the following night on home ice, in a similar fashion.
After scoring first just four minutes into the game — Justin Hall’s third goal in the young season — the Hurricanes allowed the Rebels to respond with three unanswered goals.
Down 3-1 in the second period, the Canes mounted another comeback, thanks to an Alex Thacker goal — his first of the year — and a second from Justin Hall to send the game to overtime.
Alex Cotton was the hero in the extra frame, notching an OT winner for the second time in his career against Red Deer.
“It was just a solid game,” said Kisio.
“Both teams were playing really good and it was a better hockey game than the previous night, and that’s why we went to overtime, and obviously we were fortunate to win there.”
The ‘Canes were not so fortunate in the three-game series finale on Sunday, back in Red Deer.
The score remained 0-0 through the first 20 minutes, but Red Deer got on the board early in the second with a goal from former Hurricane Josh Tarzwell.
Lethbridge was able to tie the game with Logan Barlage’s first goal of the season, but the Rebels responded with four unanswered goals, winning 5-1.
Hurricanes forward Alex Thacker — who had had five points over the course of the three games — says the team ran out of steam on Sunday.
“In our heads we weren’t as prepared for the last game,” he said.
“We thought we kind of had it handed to us, and that wasn’t the case, and we definitely have to learn from it.”
Kisio echoed the comments of the 18-year-old.
“We couldn’t find our legs,” Kisio said. “You know it was our first three-in-three, and it showed. Both teams were in the same boat, but we looked like the more tired team, and didn’t win many battles.”
The Hurricanes will have a few days to prepare for their next test: another three games in three nights, beginning Friday against the Calgary Hitmen.