Matthew B. Pohl, Pronghorn Athletics
LETHBRIDGE, Alta– With nearly double the shots-on-goal and a late-game go-ahead goal from Dane Gibson, the Calgary Dinos handed the Lethbridge Pronghorns their first loss of 2019, 2-0 in front of a crowd of over 1600 supporters at the Enmax Centre on Thursday.
Backstopped by a 17-save shutout performance from Jordan Papirny, the Dinos improve to 12-6-1 on the season. Lethbridge's netminder Garret Hughson put up a valiant effort in a 37 save loss, but the 'Horns fall to a 7-10-2 record.
Lethbridge dictated the flow of the game immediately off the puck drop, keeping play in the offensive zone for the majority of the first five minutes of play. The Dinos could not keep control of the puck in the Pronghorns zone, leading to a number of missed chances for the visiting team.
Calgary found their stride shortly after, getting their first shot on Pronghorns goalie Garret Hughson just shy of the five-minute mark.
The Dinos would force Lethbridge's Ryan Chynoweth to take a Cross-Checking penalty in front of Dinos goaltender Jordan Papirny seven minutes into the game. Hughson would turn aside all three Calgary power-play shots on goal.
Calgary's momentum from the man-advantage would extend into their five-on-five play, with three more consecutive shots meeting the pads of Hughson, before Lethbridge would challenge with two of their own with seven minutes left in the frame.
Play would be a back-and forth affair for the rest of the period, with the Dinos killing off a Matt Alfaro Slashing penalty taken with three minutes remaining. The score would be tied at zero after 20 minutes of play, with Calgary taking an 11-9 shots-on-goal lead.
The Dinos dominated puck possession in the early going of the second period, with Calgary getting three quick shots on Hughson, who made three confident saves to keep the game scoreless.
Calgary would continue to dominate the pace of the game leading into the game's second half, with a couple of chances coming from the outside from wingers cutting behind the Lethbridge defenders. The Dinos had nine shots-on-goal in the period at the midway point, and limited the horns to three shots against netminder Papirny.
Dinos player Riley Sheen would take a slashing penalty with about three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the second period, giving Lethbridge a sporting chance on the power-play, getting two quality chances on net on Papirny. The Dinos netminder, however, would keep the score tied at zero heading into the second intermission. Calgary led the shots-on-goal clock after two periods of play, 26-15.
Coming out of the dressing rooms, it was the Dinos once again who would win the puck control battles, forcing the Pronghorns to make desperate plays to escape their zone. The home side would continue to press for the puck and get in the way of passing lanes, ensuring that the opponents had to work for quality scoring chances.
The Dinos would see another man-advantage shortly before the midway point of the period, when Sam McKechnie would be called for tripping Calgary's Captain Dylan Busenius. Calgary would get two shots on Hughson, who stood tall once again to keep things knotted up at zero.
Calgary would continue to press in the Lethbridge zone, but it would be a Pronghorn turn-over that would send Calgary's Dane Gibson down the ice. He would stop up and wait for his lane before firing a mid-slot wrister above the glove of Hughson; Gibson's eighth of the season to put the Dinos up a goal with six-and-a-half minutes left in the frame.
Despite having the lead, Calgary would be hemmed in their own zone for the majority of the final five minutes of play, garnering four quality shots on Papirny, but he would stand tall against the six-skater Lethbridge team.
Cain Franson would bury the empty-netter to seal the fate for the home side, taking the first of the home-and-home weekend series for the Dinos by a score of 2-0.
The Pronghorns side will be in Calgary to take on the Dinos in game two of the home-and-home series, puck drops at Father David Bauer at 7:00 p.m., catch all the action on www.canadawest.tv.
Photo by: MPP Photography