Swift Current, SK – The Lethbridge Hurricanes opened the Eastern Conference Championship Series on Friday with a 3-2 loss at the Innovation Credit Union I-Plex in Game 1 to the Swift Current Broncos.
It was a great pace to the first period between the Hurricanes and Broncos. The ‘Canes had an early power play in the game and despite a few good chances could not solve Stuart Skinner as the game stayed scoreless. The ‘Canes peppered Skinner in the opening period with 18 shots; Swift Current fired 10 at Logan Flodell as both goaltenders were perfect through twenty minutes of play.
The Broncos pushed the pace in the second period and were rewarded for it. Swift Current opened the scoring at the 6:15 mark as Max Patterson beat Flodell who had stumbled in the crease to make it 1-0 Broncos; Kole Gable earned the only assist. On a power play, the Broncos added to their lead as Giorgio Estephan scored his fifth of the playoffs beating Flodell blocker-side to make it 2-0; Aleksi Heponiemi and Tyler Steenbergen earned the helpers. The Hurricanes appeared to pull the game to within one with 8.3 second left in the period but the goal was disallowed to keep it 2-0 Swift Current after forty minutes. Broncos outshot the Hurricanes 9-5 in the middle frame.
The Hurricanes got on the board as Matthew Stanley snapped home his second goal of the playoffs beating Skinner on the blocker side to make it 2-1; Jordy Bellerive and Taylor Ross earned the assists on the goal. The ‘Canes tied the game with a power play goal by Calen Addison at the 9:56 mark to make it 2-2; Ross and Bellerive earned the assists on the goal once again. The tie game was short-lived as just 1:15 later Aleksi Heponiemi scored to put the Broncos back ahead by a 3-2 score. The ‘Canes pulled the goaltender late but could not muster a game-tying goal as the Broncos hung on to the 3-2 win.
The Hurricanes outshot the Broncos 18-10 in the third period and 41-29 in the game. Lethbridge went 1/4 on the power play while Swift Current was 1/3 with the extra man.
Three stars of the game were:
1) Broncos – #20 Aleksi Heponiemi (1 goal, 1 assist)
2) Broncos – #74 Stuart Skinner (39 saves)
3) ‘Canes – #3 Matthew Stanley (1 goal)
The win for the Broncos was gives them a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-seven third round series.
The Hurricanes and Broncos will play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Championship on Saturday at 7:00pm at the Innovation Credit Union I-Plex before the series shifts to the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge on Tuesday and Wednesday.