Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Jake Leschyshyn notched his first career playoff hat trick Saturday night, as he led the ‘Canes to a 4-1 win over the Calgary Hitmen in game two of their opening round WHL playoff series. The Hurricanes now lead the best of seven series 2-0.
“It’s a good feeling,” Leschyshyn said. “Obviously we’re really happy with the win and being up two nothing going into Calgary is a good feeling.”
The Hurricanes were slow starters in game one of this series, but shot out of the gates in game two. Twenty five seconds after puck drop Nick Henry dangled around a Hitmen defender and beat Calgary goalie Jack McNaughton to give the ‘Canes an early 1-0 lead.
“I thought that was huge,” Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio said. “It was a really big moment for our team and got us skating and playing the right way.”
Leschyshyn would score two times before the first period was out to give the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead through twenty minutes of action.
In the second period Calgary started to mount an offensive attack of their own, but couldn’t beat ‘Canes goaltender Carl Teteachuk. The Lethbridge native turned aside 32 of the 33 shots he faced on the night, including multiple point blank scoring chances in the middle stanza. In his first two playoff games Tetachuk has been unflappable, stopping 63 of 66 shots faced.
“My defence has been blocking shots for me which is really helpful,” Tetachuk said. “They’re letting me see the puck and the fans gave us a lot of momentum which helped a lot.”
Leschyshyn completed his hat trick night in the third period when he whacked a loose puck past McNaughton to give the Hurricanes a 4-0 lead. The Saskatoon native felt more comfortable in game two then he did in game one.
“Maybe just controlling emotions a bit. I think I felt more settled in there for sure,” Leschyshyn said. “And I think everyone else kind of felt that way too. I might have got too anxious a bit at times last night and overthinking things, so I think I just got back to basics.”
The Hurricanes will now leave the friendly confines of the Enmax Centre as the series shifts to Calgary.
“It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be tough,” Kisio said. “Calgary is a good hockey club and I think you have two teams that are really battling and want to win and I think you saw that at the end of the game tonight. No one’s quitting. They’re not going to quit. It’s going to be a battle.”
Game three of the series will be played at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night.
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