By Ryan McCracken on March 18, 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 year.
“Fifty wins is something that a lot of us can be proud of,” said Butcher. “Getting my milestone too is good, but like I said before, this came with team success and I couldn’t have done it without a lot of my teammates.”
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.
“It’s a milestone, for sure, so it feels really good,”said Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston. “All around it was an exciting night. I think the most exciting thing is that it was a win in Lethbridge. We haven’t won in Lethbridge in a long time so it was great to be able to go in there and do that after a disappointing game at home against Red Deer.”
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.
See Bullion, PageA10
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.
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.
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.
Clouston added goaltender NickSchneider returned home this week for medical reasons, but says he should return by playoffs. Bullion will get the start Saturday.
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