In old-time rivalry fashion, the Medicine Hat Tigers came back to force a shootout against their long-time nemesis the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Garin Bjorklund stopped Dylan Cozens in round three of the shootout to secure the 4-3 win. The Calgary, AB, native made 33 saves in the victory while Carl Tetachuk stood tall with 35 saves in a losing cause.
The hometown Hurricanes got off to a fast start as players were looking to be the one to score the Teddy Bear Toss goal. That honour came at the 9:57 mark. Oliver Okuliar continued with his hot hands, snapping his 22nd goal of the season and sending the bears to the ice. Dylan Cozens and Koletrane Wilson earned the assists on the Teddy Toss goal.
After the bears and toques were cleaned up, the Hurricanes once again leaned on the visiting Tigers. An Alex Cotton blast from the point capped off the fourth power play for Lethbridge and doubled the lead to 2-0. Okuliar and Calen Addison were credited with the helpers. Shots after one period also leaned the Hurricanes’ way at 11-10.
Medicine Hat wasted little time getting back into this one, dominating much of the second period.
Just three minutes into the frame, Cole Sillinger snapped home his 11th goal of the season on the power play to pull the Tigers to within one. James Hamblin and Elijah Brown were credited with the assists.
Okuliar looked to have stopped the momentum the Tigers were riding, sliding home his 23rd of the season and second of the night to restore the two-goal lead. Addison and Cotton assisted on the 3-1 goal.
Minutes after, Justin Hall had a chance to extend the lead, after being hauled down on a short-handed breakaway. Hall was given a penalty shot but was unable to keep control of the puck. Bjorklund made the easy stop.
The Tigers fed off the missed chance by the Hurricanes, scoring twice in 14 seconds to tie the game at 3.
Cyle McNabb with his third of the season and Brown with his second point of the night scored the two goals. Medicine Hat, with 16 second shots in the period, led the shots on goal 26-21 after 40.
Also in the second period, tempers flared and 56 minutes in penalties were handed out, including four fighting majors, two 10-minute misconducts, and eight minors. Ryan Chyzowski also was assessed a game misconduct for arguing his 10-minute misconduct.
It was back to business in the third period. Surprisingly, no penalties were called on either team. These two rivals traded chances all period, but both Tetachuk and Bjorklund stood tall while stealing the show and sending this one to overtime.
It was the same story in overtime, so off to the shootout. James Hamblin and Brett Kemp scored in the shootout, and Bjorklund stopped Dylan Cozens’ attempt, giving the Tigers the 4-3 comeback win.
Shooting the breeze: This was the second win for the Tigers over the Hurricanes this week. Medicine Hat won at home on Wednesday 8-3. This loss extends the Hurricanes losing streak to four (0-2-0-2) — the longest of the season.
Hurricanes are now just 1-5 in the shootout this season, a record not lost on the coach. “Shootouts, we just can’t find a way to get some saves and get a win.” Coach Brent Kisio went on to to say he liked the effort of his team overall. “Actually I thought we battled pretty hard. I think it was a good hockey game; both teams are going. Couple mistakes and they get back into it. We had a chance in the third to win it.”
Coach Kisio said the message to the team ahead of the game on Saturday in Swift Current will be simple: “Re-group and get one,” he said in reference to getting back in the win column.
Both teams took advantage of their special teams, as both went 2-for-5 on the power play. Hurricanes defencemen Alex Cotton talked about the special teams performance. “Our power play was good for sure. I thought we created a lot of chances. We took too many penalties and that cost us the game.”
Next up for the Hurricanes is a trip to Swift Current Saturday night. The Broncos are coming off a 5-1 loss to the Everett Silvertips. Medicine Hat will head home to welcome those same Silvertips for their only meeting of the season.
The final Teddy Toss count on the night was 3,568 bears and stuffies along with 679 toques. Well done to the City of Lethbridge and a big thank you for the support in this great cause.