The Lethbridge Hurricanes stepped onto the ice Friday night to a roaring near-capacity crowd in their first playoff game in seven years. The fans had plenty to cheer about from start to finish as the Hurricanes overwhelmed the Regina Pats in a 6-3 win.
Fans erupted two minutes into the game when veteran forward Cory Millette opened the scoring. Millette found the loose puck off a scramble in front and roofed a backhander past Pats goaltender Tyler Brown.
“The crowd was huge,” said Millette. “They had our back the entire 60 minutes. I think that’s what got us through the game so well.”
Special teams were a huge factor in the game Friday night, as the teams combined for 18 power plays on the night. The Hurricanes had a 2-1 lead after the end of the first period, and all five goals were scored with the man advantage.
“I think both teams would say they could be a little more discipline,” Hurricanes coach Brent Kisio said. “A lot of our penalties I didn’t really like, we’ve got to make some better decisions there.”
The Hurricanes looked to be in some trouble in the second period when Regina scored their second power play goal of the game. Connor Hobbs gave the roadside a 3-2 lead when he stepped into a slap shot from the point.
But the Hurricanes responded. Carter Folk tied the game at three before the period was out. Then just 41 seconds into the third, the Hurricanes retook the lead. Giorgio Estephan would make a nifty back pass to Brayden Burke who put home his second of the night to make it 4-3 ‘Canes.
Cory Millette and Kord Pankewicz would tack on a couple more in the third period as the ‘Canes cruised to a 6-3 victory and a 1-0 series lead.
“Oh it’s huge,” Burke on the win said. “Especially when we have home ice advantage here. We wanted to come out (hard) and then to get one early was really big. Then we just kept pushing and pucks just kept going in.”
The Hurricanes host the Pats tomorrow night for game two of the best of seven series. When asked what the key to victory is tomorrow night, Hurricanes Coach Brent Kisio, kept it pretty simple.
“Win the hockey game.”
If they do that, the Hurricanes will be two wins away from advancing to the second round.