It’s been a heavyweight bout.
Blow for blow, round for round, the Hitmen and Lethbridge Hurricanes have combined for 24 goals in the first two games of the season series.
That’s a lot of goals.
“We’ve shown that we can score goals, that we can generate offence,” Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman said. “But now we need to show that we can shut down the other team and focus in on tightening up on the defensive side.”
“They are a very dangerous team, we’d score one and then they would score one right after. When we score we can’t get too high or when we get scored on we can’t get too low. That’s happened a few times this season and it’s proven to be costly.”
Round three of the season series is set for Friday night in Lethbridge, with both clubs having a win under their belt. The Hitmen withstood a late rally in the first meeting of the season to take a 6-5 win in what was their first victory of the season on Oct. 12.
Lethbridge would respond with a 7-6 triumph two weeks later on Oct. 26 in a game that ended up being the last goal wins.
“They are a good team that likes to play that style of game and go chance for chance all night,” defenceman Layne Toder said. “We need to get back to our game, grind them down low in the corners and win those battles for the pucks to slow them down.”
“When we play like that we can control the game and get them to play our style and not fall into how they want the game to go.”
After rattling off three straight victories earlier in the month, things haven’t gone as planned as of late for the Hitmen, dropping several tightly contested one goal games.
They’ve been right there until the end but come up just short.
“Our last two games we’ve outshot teams 31-2 in the third period but lost both of them,” Zimmerman said. “We’re bound to have things go our way if we continue to play at the level we have been.”
“The coaches refer to it as the ketchup bottle effect. You’re hitting on the bottom of the bottle and nothing comes out until finally boom, your ketchup comes out and explodes everywhere. We just need to stick to our process and good things will come from it.”
With a quarter of the season in the books already, the team knows that it’s only matter of time until the wins start racking up.
There’s no question that the effort and compete has been there, especially as of late.
“It feels like we’re one degree away from boiling,” Toder said. “We’re right there each time, one shot away or one save away from reversing the fortunes. We know that we have a good group and that the pieces are there to go on a run.”
“There’s still a lot of hockey left to be played but we know that we need to stick to the gameplan and not be too fancy or overthink things. The coaches believe in us and we believe in ourselves to turn things around.”