LETHBRIDGE - A slow start proved to be costly as the Medicine Hat Tigers scored twice in the first period en route to a 5-1 win over the Hurricanes Saturday night at the ENMAX Centre.
The Medicine Hat Tigers, with a depleted line-up drew first blood in this game. Kellan Tochkin took the puck off the end boards and banked a shot by Brandon Anderson to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. The Tigers went into this game missing a number of key players: Wacey Hamilton, Linden Vey, Tyler Pitlick, and Cole Grbavac just to name a few. The Tigers weren't done there. Emerson Etem, off a 2-on-1 rush fired the puck by Anderson to give Medicine Hat 2-0 lead. The Canes' didn't register their first shot until the 13 minute mark of the first period. After being out shot 9-0 at one point in the game, the shots after one period favoured the Tigers 11-8 after Lethbridge managed to close the gap in that department and get a few good scoring chances in the final few minutes. Tyler Bunz came up with a couple of key saves for the Tigers.
In the second, another slow start for Lethbridge. The Tigers managed to jump into a 3-0 lead when Kellan Tochkin scored his second of the night to give Medicine Hat a comfortbale lead. That would be it for Brandon Anderson in goal. He was pulled in favour of Dylan Tait for the rest of the night. The Canes', like in the early part of the first period were unaable to generate much offence in the second. The Tigers didn't give Hurricanes much to work with. Medicine Hat held the shots through 40 minutes of play 25-15.
In the third, the Hurricanes would finally find their legs. Jacob Berglund knocked the puck out of mid-air and by Tyler Bunz early in the period to get Lethbridge on the board. That was the Swede's 18th goal of the season and cut the Tigers' lead to 3-1. The Hurricanes kept pressing and came close to get another. They pulled the goalie and with just over two minutes remaining in the game, but the Tigers would score into the empty goal to make 4-1, courtesy of Curtis Valk. Medicine Hat would end up getting one with a few seconds to go, this time on a power play. Patrik Parkkonen fired a point shot, beating Dylan Tait to make it 5-1 Tigers and that's the way this game would end. Medicine Hat out shot Lethbridge slightly 31-30. The Tigers went 1 for 4 on the power play and the Hurricanes finished the game 0 for 3.
The Hurricanes remain two points back of the Prince Albert Raiders with three games to go in the regular season for both teams. The Canes' were unable to gain any ground on P.A. Saturday. The Raiders lost 7-3 in Brandon. Lethbridge plays Edmonton and Kootenay twice to close out the regular season and the Raiders have Calgary and Swift Current two times to finish off.
Once again, the Hurricanes got off to a slow start in this game. That's kind of been their M.O. for the past five or six weeks. They were unable to take advantage of an injury-depleted Medicine Hat roster. Gotta give the Tigers some credit. With some key players out of the line-up, Medicine Hat played a very strong road game, especially in the first two periods. Max Ross missed Saturday's game against the Tigers. He was suspended by the WHL for a boarding major he was assessed in Calgary on Friday night. He was ejected from that game against Calgary. The length of the suspension is listed as "To Be Determined" on the league website.
The Hurricanes have three game remaining in their regular season. They're next action is set for Tuesday night in Edmonton against the Oil Kings. This will be the final meeting of the season between the two teams. The Hurricanes will close out the regular season Friday and Saturday next weekend with a home-and-away set with the Kootenay ICE.
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