It took a few games for it to find its mojo, but in the end the Lethbridge Hurricanes power play won them a playoff series.
After going 0/12 to start the series, the Hurricanes power play went 4/5 in game seven Tuesday night in Lethbridge, carrying them to a dominant 6-2 victory over the Red Deer Rebels.
The Hurricanes erased a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series for the first time since 2009.
Brennan Menell opened the scoring 7:21 into the game when beat Rebels goalie Riley Lamb for a 5 on 3 power play goal.
Just 1:03 later, Giorgio Estephan scored on the back half of the power play to make it 2-0.
Lane Zablocki, as he has a few times this series, scored a late period goal at the 19:08 mark, ripping a shot past Stuart Skinner to put the Rebels on the board at 2-1.
Unfortunately, Ryan Vandervlis scored just 28 seconds later to make it 3-1. It was the start of a big night for the Red Deer native.
Jordy Bellerive scored the lone goal of the second period, a shorthanded tally to make it 4-1 at the 9:29 mark. That spelled the end of the night for Lamb, who allowed four goals on 19 shots. Lasse Petersen took over in net for the Rebels.
In the third, Brandon Hagel gave Red Deer some life with his seventh goal of the series 2:31 in.
However, Vandervlis struck for another 5 on 3 power play marker six minutes later, his fourth point of the night, to erase any doubt as to the outcome of this game, and the series. Just over two minutes later, Menell scored one more power play goal to round out the scoring at 6-2.
Afterward, the Rebels didn’t have to look far to see what led to their demise.
“It started right with the penalties in the first period,” Associate Coach Jeff Truitt said. “We get down one man, but then we take a second one and their power play takes over and we were chasing the game from then on. Our discipline wasn’t good enough tonight.”
Truitt added that giving momentum right back to Lethbridge after seizing it didn’t help their cause.
“You don’t want to give up a goal right after our goal. Seemed like almost every night of the series, once we were up, or we’d score, we’d let them right back in again.”
The Rebels were 0/3 with the man advantage in game seven while outshooting the Hurricanes 33-31, including 19 shots on Skinner in the second period, in front of 5244 loud, rabid fans at the Enmax Centre.
The Hurricanes move on to battle the Medicine Hat Tigers in the next round of playoffs. The Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos will battle in the other WHL Eastern Conference Final.
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