For nearly 60 minutes, the Calgary Hitmen penalty killers did yeomen's work.
But, in the end, they couldn't kill all eight Lethbridge Hurricanes' powerplay opportunities. Jonathan Filewich's second goal of the night -- Lethbridge's only man-advantage marker of the game -- with 2:48 left in the contest tied it at 3-3 and that's how it ended last night at the Saddledome in front of 7,100 fans.
The result marred what should have been a win for Calgary's rookie backup goalie Daniel Spence, who made his second straight start.
The 16-year-old made 36 saves and, while Filewich's second was a bad break on a bouncy puck Spence would love back, he kept the Hitmen in the game.
"(The Hurricanes) came out hard and (Spence) held us in there and allowed us to gain some momentum and get our legs under us," said Hitmen co-coach Dean Evason.
Playing with just five defencemen as Andy Rogers (ankle) and Tyler Harder (concussion) were out of the lineup, the penalties took their toll on the Hitmen, who knew their forwards would have to give some extra effort in helping the blueliners.
"We talked about staying out of the box and the forwards coming back to help the D out," Evason said. "I mean, you give them that many opportunities, right or wrong, and they get that many scoring chances ...."
Andrew Ladd, who scored on the powerplay and penalty kill for the Hitmen (9-5-3-1), said Spence made the difference.
"As a team, I don't think we had everybody going and if it wasn't for Spence, we probably would have had a bigger deficit," said Ladd, who now has eight goals on the season.
"It's the same thing over and over. If guys don't step up, something's going to happen."
It didn't take long for the Hitmen to strike first as defenceman Brett Carson beat Scott Bolland with a point shot 17 seconds into the opening period. It was Carson's first tally of the WHL campaign.
The Hitmen extended their lead at 12:04 as Ladd notched his first powerplay goal of the season. Ladd was alone in front of the 'Canes cage and took a feed from Konstantin Pushkarev, who was wheeling behind the net. Calgary's rookie blueliner Karl Alzner originally got the puck to Pushkarev and picked up his first WHL point with the assist.
Lethbridge (6-6-5-1) drew to within a goal after Filewich scored his seventh of the season 2:39 into the second period. The Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick came into the Hitmen zone unchecked and got a feed from Kyle Pess and beat Spence with a wrist shot.
But the Hitmen regained their two-goal lead courtesy of Ladd's shorthanded marker.
The 'Canes fought back late in the second with Kenny Petkau scoring at 15:29, making it 3-2 heading into the final frame.
Then the visitors tied it with 2:28 left in the game as Filewich got his second of the night and this one came via the powerplay as Brett O'Malley sat in the sin bin for handling the puck.