December 15th, 2017

Youth steps up in Tigers’ win

By Ryan McCracken on October 12, 2017.

Medicine Hat Tigers Tyler Preziuso, David Quenneville, Dylan MacPherson and Ryan Chyzowski celebrate Quenneville's first-period goal during Wednesday's Western Hockey League game at the Canalta Centre against the Everett Silvertips.--NEWS PHOTO RYAN McCRACKEN

rmccracken@medicinehatnews.com @MHNMcCracken

The Medicine Hat Tigers put their scoring depth on display Wednesday at the Canalta Centre.

After parting ways with overage forward Zach Fischer earlier this week and entering the evening’s matchup against the Everett Silvertips with injuries to Max Gerlach and Jaeger White, Medicine Hat’s youth carried the load in a 5-4 victory.

“That’s a huge loss for our team, but in the room we kind of said, ‘You know what, stuff happens but together we can do this,'” said Tigers forward Gary Haden, whose team improved to 4-3-0-0 with the win. “We all have to stick together and pitch in. Every line has to go, we can’t have one line off, but it was great.”

The Tigers found the start they needed after falling 6-1 to the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday. David Quenneville got the ball rolling with his first of the season just over a minute into regulation, then Dawson Heathcote followed it up with the first of his career 29 seconds later.

“It feels amazing, surreal. It’s a lot of stress off the shoulders now,” said Heathcote. “I think we kept our structure. We kept working hard and we were buzzing in the O-zone. We created a lot of opportunities for ourselves.”

The flurry of goals sent Silvertips starting goaltender Kyle Dumba marching for the bench in favour of Dorrin Luding after letting two of Medicine Hat’s first three shots hit the twine. The Silvertips made their bi-annual trip into Alberta without star goaltender Carter Hart, who has been battling a case of mono.

While Everett looked to steal away the early momentum with Matt Fonteyne’s sixth of the season, coming in the final 15 seconds of the opening period, Tyler Preziuso proved there was still plenty of time left to make something happen.

The Victoria product picked up a loose puck in the slot then turned and fired it over Luding’s glove to re-establish a two-goal lead and tilt the ice back in Medicine Hat’s favour at the break.

The Tigers and Tips traded chances through the first half of the middle frame, including a couple breakaways stopped by Hat goaltender Michael Bullion. The Tiger goaltender kept his team’s lead alive with a series of big stops, but Patrick Bajkov finally managed to put one past him on the power play.

“There were a few too many (breakaways) that’s for sure. You’d like to give up zero but he had a couple great saves, there were a couple point-blank chances too,” said Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston. “(Bullion) was a real big part of the win. It’s interesting how things work out. He was almost out of here a couple times but he’s got new life and played well tonight.”

The Silvertips veteran ripped a point shot past into the top corner just five seconds into Cole Clayton’s slashing penalty — cutting the lead back to one. But the Tabbies went right back to work offensively.

Haden held the offensive zone with an aggressive forecheck before feeding Mark Rassell in the low slot for the captain’s team-leading seventh goal of the season.

While the Silvertips immediately responded by grinding out a goal in the blue paint, then entered the third period with a power play, the Tigers shut down the opportunity and stole back the momentum after drawing a slashing penalty.

The infraction put Everett’s Orrin Centazzo in the bin and opened the door for Rassell’s second goal of the evening — stretching Medicine Hat’s lead back to two and forcing the Tips onto their heels.

Everett’s Montana Onyebuchi narrowed the gap back to one with a point shot late in the third, but the Tigers held on for the narrow victory.

Bullion closed out the victory with 30 saves while Luding stopped 28 in relief of Dumba. The Tips are now 1-4-0-0 since losing Hart to start October, and 3-6-0-0 on the year.

“It was a tough start right off the bat but I thought the boys battled,” said Fonteyne. “We tried to worry about one shift at a time and battled to the last period. It was a good game all around I thought.”

Haden, Ryan Chyzowski and Henry Rybinski all finished with two assists for Medicine Hat.

“I thought Haden played real well. He got more ice time, I thought his whole line kind of stepped up,” said Clouston. “Henry (Rybinski) had a blocked shot early in the first period, which turned into a scoring chance and turned into a goal. That was key for us. He had a big night.”

The Tigers return to the Canalta Centre Friday to host the Saskatoon Blades at 7:30 p.m.

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