Hurricanes goalie Skinner picks Rebels’ pockets
Hurricanes 3 Rebels 1
LETHBRIDGE — Netminder Stuart Skinner stole a Western Hockey League win for the Lethbridge Hurricanes Saturday night, but the Red Deer Rebels also didn’t do enough to help themselves.
The Rebels directed 45 shots at Skinner but managed just a single goal in a 3-1 loss before 3,547 fans at the Enmax Centre.
“Our effort was really good, we created some great scoring chances,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
But there were also the failed odd-man breaks, pucks that missed a gaping target and a little matter of finding iron on three occasions.
“We had three two-on-ones without getting a shot, we missed open nets and hit three goal posts,” said Sutter.
“We just didn’t score on our chances. Their goalie played extremely well while facing a lot of quality shots and we just never capitalized.”
The ‘Canes led 1-0 after 20 minutes on a goal from Jordy Bellerive, who took a pass at centre ice, sidestepped two Red Deer defenders and beat netminder Lasse Petersen with a backhand deke.
Lethbridge Tyler Wong netted his first of two goals on the night at 4:56 of the second period, depositing a cross-ice feed from Giorgio Estephan past Petersen during a Hurricanes power play.
Ethan Sakowich got the Rebels on the board just over two minutes later, jamming a puck — shot by defenceman Jared Freadrich — that bounced off the end boards by Skinner.
But the big netminder didn’t surrender another tally. He finished with 44 saves, including 19 in the third period.
Wong sealed the deal with an empty-net goal with 56 seconds remaining.
While the Lethbridge power play was one-for-four, the Rebels went zero-for-four with a man advantage.
“We needed our power play to be the difference for us here tonight,” said Sutter. “We never generated enough on our power play. We had a power play with three and half minutes to go and got one very average shot.
“That’s just not good enough.”
Five on five, though, the Rebels were clearly the better team through the final two periods, despite the absence of top-six forwards Brandon Hagel (injury) and Michael Spacek, who was ill.
Still, the visitors had enough offence in their lineup, Sutter stated, pointing to the likes of Josh Mahura, Colton Bobyk, Adam Musil, Evan Polei and Austin Glover.
“Those guys are good players, they can score goals,” said the Rebels boss. “Let’s not kid ourselves, when you have two of your top four or five forwards out of the lineup, sure it hurts you.
“But that didn’t have an impact on how we played here tonight as far as our team game and the way we have to play. I thought our team game was as good as it’s been all year.”
His post-game message to the players was short and to the point.
“If we play that hard we’ll win our share of games,” said Sutter. “But you have to bury your opportunities.
“We scored one goal on 45 shots and probably 20 to 25 of them were quality scoring chances. Their goalie was the big difference for them (Hurricanes) tonight.”
Lamb stopped 31 shots for the Rebels and was named third star of the game, behind first star Skinner and Lethbridge defenceman Brennan Menell.
The Rebels return to action Tuesday versus the visiting Prince George Cougars.