LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- Derek Ryckman stood a little taller after the Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-1 Western Hockey League win over the Prince George Cougars Friday at the Enmax Centre.
Maybe because he shook a 95-game yoke off two minutes and 25 seconds into the second period, when he snuck in from the point and converted an Alex Kuvaev pass to score his first career goal.
It gave the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead and helped them on their way to a 3-2-0-1 record in six games this season. Maybe more importantly, it solicited a laugh from head coach and general manager Rich Preston.
"He looked like Bobby Orr there," laughed Preston. "It was a water bottle shot. It was a great play by Alexander Kuvaev, looking for the d-man coming in. He hadn't scored in awhile, I don't know how long but it's been a long time."
Ryckman added it was nice to get the monkey off his back. The shock of the goal also seemed to lull the Hurricanes into a sleep, as they committed a number of glaring turnovers and handed over momentum to the Cougars. It took another big moment for the 'Canes to wake up, courtesy of goalie Brandon Anderson.
Every red-blooded male in the crowd likely winced as the second-year netminder split his legs from post to post to stone Spencer Asuchak on a three-on-one power play breakout.
"That was a huge save for us, especially since they were coming on strong and it kind of shifted the momentum," said Ryckman. Anderson made 33 saves in the game while his counterpart James Priestner saved 27 shots.
Preston said the team could tell from the bench it was a game-turning save, but he pointed to the first period for the game's turning point.
"When little Russell Maxwell gets into that fight, that really got us going, I thought," said Preston of Maxwell's featherweight tilt against Blairmore, Alta., native Taylor Makin. "That's good to see, a guy, first year in the league, sticking up for himself. I thought that woke us up a bit."
"It was sort of a desperation save there, threw my leg out there, hoping it would hit," said Anderson.
Winger Brett Connolly scored the lone Cougar goal with seven-tenths of a second left in the game, spoiling Anderson's shutout bid when he shot behind the 'Canes defence to score high on Anderson's glove side.
It was Connolly's third goal of the season and he leads the Cats in scoring with eight points, as he kept alive his eight-game point streak.
The late goal did nothing to dampen the goalie's enthusiasm.
"You can't blame that on them, Connolly's a good player and he just drove wide. He's pretty good."The game's opening goal came courtesy of Austin Fyten, who has six goals despite playing in just five games. Fyten charged to the net to convert a rebound off a wraparound effort by Mitch Maxwell.
Jacob Berglund scored next for Lethbridge, the first of his two goals.
It was the prettier of the two as he slotted home a Cam Braes pass from just behind the Prince George net.
Berglund's next goal squeaked through Priestner's pads to make the game 4-0 in the third period.
The Cougars will be in Medicine Hat to face the Tigers tonight (6:30 p.m.), then travel to Edmonton to take on the Oil Kings Monday afternoon (1 p.m.).