By Ryan McCracken on September 21, 2019.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes spoiled Willie Desjardins’ return to the Gas City with a narrow 3-1 victory on Saturday at the Canalta Centre.
After coughing up a two-goal lead and settling for a 4-3 shootout loss to the Tigers in Friday’s season opener in Lethbridge, the Hurricanes again jumped in front by a pair — but this time held on to open the season with a home-and-home split.
Alex Cotton gave Lethbridge an early edge when he crept into the slot all by himself, picked up a feed from Zack Stringer and slotted the puck past Hat netminder Mads Søgaard just over three minutes into the game.
While the Tigers quickly shifted momentum back in their favour — outshooting Lethbridge 14-8 in the opening frame — they couldn’t find an answer for ’Canes netminder Bryan Thomson in the period and entered the second in a deficit.
Medicine Hat earned a pair of chances to tie up the game when Hurricanes Calen Addison and Dino Kambeitz were sent to the box for back-to-back minors, but the Tigers were unable to convert on either chance and Lethbridge responded with a late tally from Noah Boyko to double up on the lead after 40 minutes.
Ryan Chyzowski gave the Tigers some life halfway through the final frame when he dove to tap in a loose puck with Hurricanes winger Alex Thacker in the penalty box for holding — igniting the crowd of 4,050.
Medicine Hat kept the pressure on in the dying minutes, pouring 10 shots on Thomson in the frame to outshoot Lethbridge 33-26 in the contest, but Oliver Okuliar put the game away with an empty-netter in the final minute.
Thomson turned away 32 shots to secure the victory in his first start of the season — pushing the Hurricanes to 1-0-0-1.
Søgaard settled for the loss on 23 saves, dropping Medicine Hat to 1-1-0-0.
The Tigers are back on the ice for a home-and-home set against the Swift Current Broncos this weekend. The action starts Friday at the Innovation Credit Union i-plex before both teams head to the Canalta Centre for a Saturday night rematch.
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