By Ryan McCracken on December 29, 2017.
The Medicine Hat Tigers fell victim to another slow start on Friday night at the Enmax Centre.
While the Tigers rallied back to erase a two-goal deficit and draw even early in the third period, Jordy Bellerive and Zane Franklin combined to snuff out the comeback and secure a 5-4 victory for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Igor Merezhko drew first blood late in the opening frame, beating Tigers goaltender Jordan Hollett from the slot for his third goal of the year, then Dylan Cozens doubled up early in the second period. Cozens struck nine seconds into a hooking penalty to Henry Rybinski, leaving Medicine Hat staring down a two-goal deficit just over a minute into the middle frame.
Tigers centre Jaeger White mustered a response a few minutes later by creeping out from behind the Lethbridge net and beating Reece Klassen over the shoulder for an unassisted highlight reel marker, his fifth of the year.
While the Hurricanes quickly re-established a two-goal lead on Giorgio Estephan’s 16th of the season — and the 290th point of the overage Hurricanes captain’s career — Tigers defenceman David Quenneville negated the marker with a bullet from the point a few moments later.
Ryan Chyzowski stepped up to draw even on a power play early in the third. The 17-year-old Kamloops product stepped into a cross-ice feed from James Hamblin — with Jake Elmer in the box for hooking — shattering his stick on the shot but beating Klassen to tie up the game.
Bellerive put the Hurricanes back out in front just before the halfway point of the final frame. Shortly after serving a minor for slashing, Bellerive jumped out of the box, cut into the slot and beat Hollett over the glove to force the Tabbies back onto their heels.
Franklin added some pivotal insurance a few minutes later, following up on his own rebound and beating Hollett to push the game out of reach.
While Mark Rassell cut the deficit down to one with just over four minutes remaining in the contest, Klassen kept the door shut to lock up a 37-save victory and push the Hurricanes to 16-17-2-0 on the season.
Hollett took the loss on 28 stops, dropping Medicine Hat to 19-15-2-0.
The Hurricanes lead the seven-game season series 3-2-0-0.
The Tigers return to the Canalta Centre Saturday to host the Red Deer Rebels (10-19-4-2) at 7:30 p.m.
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