REGINA - Jordy Bellerive's powerplay goal at 1:59 of the third period was the game-winner as the Lethbridge Hurricanes downed the Regina Pats 3-1 Friday evening to claim Game 1 of the WHL's Eastern Conference Final.
Before a 21st sellout crowd of the year of 6484 in the Brandt Centre, the Pats came out flying with Austin Wagner opening the scoring just 1:10 in on a breakaway, beating Lethbridge goalie Stuart Skinner.
It was 1-0 Regina after 1.
The 'Canes found their legs in the second frame and Giorgio Estephan tied the contest at 1-1 at the 13:23 mark at even strength. It stayed that way through 40 minutes.
Bellerive's powerplay goal early in the third put Lethbridge ahead to stay, although the Pats thought they tied it late on a goalmouth scramble. However upon review, the goal was waved off much to the crowd's dismay.
Giorgio Estephan iced the series opener with an empty-netter with 1:22 remaining.
Game over: Hurricanes 3 Pats 1
Regina outshot Lethbridge 37-24 while going 0/2 on the powerplay and 2/3 killing penalties.
Pats captain Adam Brooks returned to the ice for the first time since being injured in Game 2 of last series, but seemed tentative and not near 100%. However his presence clearly provided a boost.
The loss is not catastrophic, as the Pats have survived bigger scares than this in these playoffs. However it's clear the upstart Hurricanes are going to be a force to be reckoned with in this Round 3 affair.
The Pats will attempt to tie the series up when they host Game 2 on Saturday in a 7:00 pm faceoff on 620 CKRM, WHL on Shaw and Access 7.