By Ryan McCracken on November 3, 2016.
The Medicine Hat Tigers went toe-to-toe with the WHL’s best and came out on top Wednesday night in Prince George, overcoming an early stumble to defeat the league-leading Cougars 6-4.
Jared Bethune’s early shorthanded breakaway goal put the Tigers in another first period deficit, but once again it was short-lived as Max Gerlach snapped his 10th of the season past Cougars goaltender Ty Edmonds then Steven Owre stole away the lead with a shorty of his own.
“That was a big one for us. The thing that was real positive is that the bench stayed together. We didn’t panic,” said Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston. “To get that one back kind of put us back to square one and we were better after that.”
Tabbies power forward Zach Fischer kept the offence rolling for the orange and black with his ninth of the year, threading the puck past Edmonds on the power play to give Medicine Hat some breathing room while avenging the early short-handed setback once and for all.
The Cougars clawed back into the battle of the big cats on Sam Ruopp’s second of the season, but the Tigers answered by tacking on some more insurance with markers from David Quenneville and Fischer.
The added space proved vital as Prince George strung together a pair of late goals from Yan Khomenko and Jesse Gabrielle to keep the Tabbies on their toes, but John Dahlstrom iced the game with an empty netter and Medicine Hat escaped with a victory.
“It was a battle,” said Clouston. “They’re a great team, there were periods during the game where they really carried the play but our guys found a way to get it done.”
Schneider turned away 36 pucks for his 10th win of the year, while Edmonds kept Prince George in the game with a 31-save effort but was ultimately handed the loss as the Cougars fell to 13-4-2-0 on the season.
“(Schneider) played exceptionally well in the second period and then made some big saves down the stretch to kind of fend them off,” said Clouston. “There were various times in the game where they put a lot of pressure on us and he made some big saves to keep us in the lead.”
The victory brings Medicine Hat to 3-0 just past the midway point of their 2,900-kilometre, five-game road trip, and increases their lead on the Central Division to five points with an 11-4-1-0 record.
“We’ll put on a lot of miles,” said Clouston. “But it’s actually been a great trip.”
Owre finished the night with four points, while Chad Butcher had a pair of assists and Mason Shaw extended his point streak to eight games with a helper on Fischer’s power play goal. Bethune had a team-high three points for Prince George.
The Tigers head to the Okanagan this weekend to take on the Kamloops Blazers (9-8-1-0) Friday and the Kelowna Rockets (9-8-0-0) Saturday before returning home to Medicine Hat.