By Kellen Taniguchi on April 2, 2021.
Backed by an impressive performance in net from Garin Bjorklund, the Medicine Hat Tigers put together a fourth straight win with a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen on Friday night at Co-op Place.
Bjorklund stopped 30 of 31 shots in the game, including a heavy workload of 18 saves in the second period.
“He’s a good goaltender. We have lots of confidence in him, maybe too much,” said Tigers head coach Willie Desjardins. “We know he’s going to make some big saves for us, he’s just there every night. We probably shouldn’t rely on him as much as we do, we just know he’s good.”
Ryan Chyzowski and Corson Hopwo each netted a goal in the first period with impressive wrist shots labelled for the top corner on Hitmen’s netminder Brayden Peters’ glove side.
The Tabbies captain opened the scoring nine minutes into the game. Defenceman Daniel Baker sent a pass to Chyzowski in transition where the captain skated into the offensive zone and ripped a shot to the back of the net — Bjorklund also picked up an assist on the play.
With under a minute left in the opening frame, Baker kept a puck inside the blueline and found Hopwo open in the slot. Hopwo made no mistake and his eighth goal of the season found twine to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Calgary came out of the gate hot in the second period and outshot Medicine Hat 19-8. However, Bjorklund was tracking the puck well, sprawling out to make key saves and made a cross-ice save on a one-time shot from Hitmen centre Blake Allan.
Bjorklund stopped 18 shots in the period, but Calgary was rewarded for their efforts at the 14:23 mark. Winger Josh Prokop received a pass from Sean Tschigerl and pushed the puck to the back of the Tigers net.
Medicine Hat’s power play cashed in early in the third period to extend their lead to two. Lukas Svejkovsky possessed the puck behind the net, wrapped around and jammed the puck behind the goal line just before Peters pad could get there. Oren Shtrom and Chyzowski picked up assists on the power play tally.
Svejkovsky capitalized on another man advantage later in the period when Orca Wiesblatt was sent to the bin for the Hitmen. Svejkovsky sniped a shot to the top corner of the net with Brett Kemp and Cole Clayton involved with assists on the play.
“The first one, I kind of just got behind the net, I saw no one was really on me so I just tried to take it to the net, luckily it went in. The second one, it was a really nice screen by Kemp there and I kind of just walked into a shot on the sidewall,” said Svejkovsky. ” … Those were two big goals and I think our power play was pretty good today.”
With the win, Medicine Hat improves to 8-3-0-0 and Calgary drops to 5-6-1-0 on the season.
The Tigers and Hitmen will play the second game of their three-game weekend series on Saturday at the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex in Calgary with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m.