By Ryan McCracken on March 17, 2017.
Chad Butcher and the Medicine Hat Tigers joined the triple-digit club together on Friday night at the Enmax Centre.
The five-year Tiger veteran reached the 100-point plateau with a goal and an assist in Friday’s 5-1 routing of the rival Lethbridge Hurricanes, pushing his team to 101 points on the season.
With the victory, the Tigers became just the fourth team in franchise history to secure at least 50 wins, the seventh to break 100 points, and the first to do either since 2007 with a 50-20-1-0 record.
But those weren’t the only milestones achieved down the road in Lethbridge, not by a longshot.
John Dahlstrom became the fifth Tiger to crack the 30-goal plateau this season by finishing off a power play chance on the doorstep midway through the opening frame, then James Hamblin became the 10th on the team to net No. 20 just over five minutes later.
Butcher netted point No. 99 early in the second period, tipping a puck past ’Canes netminder Stuart Skinner for his 27th goal of the year after helping kill off a five-minute major to Matt Bradley.
Bradley was ejected from the contest late in the first period for an apparent spear on Hurricanes forward Ryan Vandervlis, but Lethbridge failed to generate any momentum with the opportunity.
The Hurricanes found their way onto the board in a reversal of fortune. While Ryan Bowen was initially stopped by Michael Bullion on a shorthanded breakaway chance midway through the second, trailing Tigers forward Steven Owre inadvertently knocked the rebound into the open cage , snapping Bullion’s bid for a fourth shutout.
But Butcher quickly eased the tension on the Tiger bench by finding his triple-digit moment on Mark Rassell’s 35th goal of the season.
The marker required video confirmation, as Rassell’s shot snuck past Skinner and barely crossed the line before being cleared away, but it stood for the 100th point of Butcher’s season and the 257th in his career.
Lethbridge’s power play chances continued into the third, but they ended up empty handed despite eight opportunities in the contest and Hamblin put the game away with his second of the night shortly after killing off a 5-on-3. Butcher recorded an assist on the goal.
Bullion finished with 32 stops for Medicine Hat for his 16th win as a Tiger. Skinner turned aside 37 shots in the loss, dropping Lethbridge to 44-20-4-3.
The Tigers and Hurricanes close out the regular season Saturday night at the Canalta Centre. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
NOTE: Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston confirmed goaltender Nick Schneider returned home this week for medical reasons, but he is anticipated to return before playoffs.
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