By medicinehatnews on April 26, 2014.
There was little gas left in the tank for the bunch from the Gas City.
Even riding on fumes, the Medicine Hat Tigers didn’t go quietly in the night in bowing out of the WHL’s Eastern Conference championship series. Facing elimination against the host Oil Kings in Game 5 of the series on Saturday night in Edmonton, the Tigers held leads of 1-0 and 2-1.
After the Oil Kings went ahead 3-2 late in the second period, the Tigers tied things up a 3-3 early in the third.
With 5:38 to play in the third, Edmonton centre Brett Pollock potted his second goal of the game off a rebound from a shot taken by Oil Kings rearguard Blake Orban to put the hosts up 4-3 before 8,408 spectators at Rexall Place.
That 4-3 score held up as the final outcome of Game 5, as the Oil Kings claimed the best-of-seven series 4-1. The Oil Kings outshot the Tigers 52-19 on Saturday.
After the game, Tigers overage captain Curtis Valk had a whole bunch of thoughts going through his mind. He thought of fellow overage players in Dylan Bredo and Jacob Doty, as well as his regular standout linemates Trevor Cox and Cole Sanford.
Cox was out with what the team confirmed was a concussion that was suffered in the second period of a 4-1 loss to the Oil Kings in Game 4 on Wednesday in an accidental collision with Edmonton right-winger Edgars Kulda. Cox would not have been able to return even if the series went to a Game 7.
“When you are sitting in the room after a loss like that, it is pretty emotional for a lot of guys and guys like Breds, who played his whole career here in Medicine Hat, and he battled so hard for the Tigers,” said Valk. “Dods too having his career come to an end.
“They were both unbelievable players, and they earned everything they got. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I am sure it will very soon. It is tough. We have to more on to the next chapter of our lives.”
While there were a lot of sad faces on the Tigers end, the Oil Kings dressing room area was in celebration mode.
Edmonton advances to play the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL Championship series for a third straight year. Game 1 of that series is set for this coming Saturday in Portland. The Oil Kings won the league title in 2012 and Winterhawks claimed last year’s league championship series.
“I thought Medicine Hat really came in here and gave it a great effort,” said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. “Even when the score was 3-2 in the third period, they battled hard and they got the tying goal.
“I thought our guys kind of hung in there. Give our guys credit, our guys battled hard.”
Sanford scored twice for the Tigers, while Doty had a single. Edgars Kulda and Mads Eller had the other singles for the Oil Kings.
“Our effort was unreal,” said Sanford. “To tie the game up there in the third, we didn’t give them much the whole game.
“I am proud of the guys. It was a great year. It is tough right now, but it was a great season.”
Marek Langhamer made 48 saves in goal for the Tigers. Tristan Jarry turned away 16 shots in goal for the Oil Kings. With his team playing their 12th game in 22 days, Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston liked the resolve shown by his side.
“I though we played really hard,” said Clouston. “They are a great hockey team We knew that.
“We knew every single game was going to be a challenge. Overall, I am really proud of our guys, and they should be proud of themselves. It was a great season.”