Ice grind out win over tight-checking Hurricanes


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It was grinding, low-event hockey and for the Winnipeg Ice, a team built on speed and an explosive offensive attack, it had to be an excruciating business Wednesday.

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It was grinding, low-event hockey and for the Winnipeg Ice, a team built on speed and an explosive offensive attack, it had to be an excruciating business Wednesday.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes were Winnipeg’s tormentors for the second consecutive night, frustrating the WHL’s hottest team with a lethal combination of forechecking, a tidy transition game and timely offence.

On Tuesday, Lethbridge emerged with a 2-1 victory to snap the Ice’s franchise record 15-game winning streak.

Twenty-four hours later, the Hurricanes didn’t stray much from the original blueprint, but the hosts were able to rally from a 2-1 second-period deficit to post a 3-2 victory at Wayne Fleming Arena.

“We knew they were gonna play (their system) again tonight because it worked last night,” said defenceman Graham Sward, who played his eighth game for Winnipeg since being acquired from the Spokane Chiefs.

“So I wouldn’t say frustrating but you do kind of have to change the way that you play and adapt to it. And I thought we did a good job of that tonight or a better job of that tonight than we did last night.”

Zach Benson’s unassisted marker 5:16 into the third period, coming after the 17-year-old left-winger created a turnover, proved to be the difference.

It was Benson’s 14th goal of the season.

“They ended up making a mistake and Benny capitalized on it and he’s the kind of guy that you don’t want to give chances like that too,” said Ice defenceman Graham Sward. “That was great to see.”

Connor McClennon, on a power play, opened scoring in the first period with his 17th of the season. Ty Nash, with his 10th, also sniped for the hosts, who are 21-2-0-0 and first in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s type of game our team hasn’t had enough of — playing against a big physical team that just protects the middle of the ice,” said Ice head coach James Patrick.

“Nash doesn’t score if (Conor) Geekie doesn’t get to the front of the net. Did we do enough of it? No. And we have to get better in those types of games.”

Jett Jones and Miguel Marques replied with goals for the Hurricanes, who are fifth in the conference with a 12-10-0-1 record.

Bryan Thomson made 18 saves in the Lethbridge net.

Winnipeg’s Daniel Hauser, making his first start since Nov. 12, stopped 19 shots and improved his record to 15-0-0-0.

He has not suffered a loss since the Ice dropped a 3-2 post-season decision to the Moose Jaw Warriors on May 10.

Next up for the Ice is a two-game series on Friday and Saturday in Saskatoon against the Blades.

Saskatoon, currently on a roll with four consecutive wins, is third in the conference with a 15-4-0-0 record.

BLUE-LINES: The Ice went 1-for-3 on the power play. Lethbridge did not have a power play… The Ice finished a 10-game homestand with a 9-1-0-0 record… Winnipeg’s next home date comes on Dec. 2 against the Swift Current Broncos.

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.


Updated on Thursday, November 24, 2022 3:04 PM CST: typo in lede fixed

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