June 21st, 2024

Tigers score seven to beat Blazers on Saturday

By James Tubb on February 25, 2023.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Tigers forward Brett Calhoon celebrates his first Western Hockey League goal with Oasiz Wiesblatt and Reid Andresen in the second period of a 7-3 win over the Kamloops Blazers on Saturday at Co-op Place.

The Medicine Hat Tigers contained the WHL’s hottest team Saturday night at Co-op Place.

The Tigers scored seven goals to beat the Kamloops Blazers 7-3, breaking their 10-game winning streak. Medicine Hat came into the game off a 6-3 loss in Regina against the Pats on Wednesday, Kamloops was riding an 11-game winning streak.

Head coach Willie Desjardins says it was a good night for everyone and a big win for the Tigers playoff push.

“It’s a big, big win for us, that’s a really good team over there, they’re prepared for the (Memorial) Cup,” Desjardins said. That’s a big game for us and we had lots of guys that played well, (Beckett) Langkow was outstanding, which makes a huge difference.”

“But we had lots of big performers that are killed was good tonight, had a couple big ones and our power play got one. Lee’s goal at the end of the second was huge and Basha got a couple of big ones for us,” Desjardins said.

Saturday night was full of returns to Co-op Place as former Tigers head coach Shaun Clouston was back behind the bench in the Hat for the first time since joining the Blazers ahead of the 2019-20 season. Former Tigers forward Ashton Ferster also played his first game back in Medicine Hat since being traded ahead of this season.

Clouston says it was nice to be back in Medicine Hat, even with the disappointing result.

“A little bit of disconnected play, not our best night but have to give a lot of credit to the team across the way from us, they were they were a determined group and played a heck of a game,” Clouston said.

Kamloops got on the board first with a goal from Olen Zellweger. The defenceman picked up the puck at the point and broke in below the hash marks before sending a backhand shot past the Tigers net minder 2:28 into the contest.

The Tigers didn’t wait long to answer back as Bogdans Hodass wired a shot top shelf on a power play to tie the game at 1-1. Andrew Basha and Dallon Melin with the assists on Hodass’ 11th of the year.

Medicine Hat carried the momentum in the period as Reid Andresen picked up a loose puck above the slot and scored his sixth of the year to put the Tigers ahead 2-1 after 20 minutes.

The Tigers had a quick jump to the second period as Basha took a pass from Andresen and scored on a breakaway 20 seconds into the middle frame. Langkow had the second assist on Basha’s 13th of the year, which chased Dylan Ernst from the game.

Just under five minutes later, Brett Calhoon jumped out of the penalty box, picked up the puck and found the back of the net on a mini breakaway for his first Western Hockey League goal.

“It was great, I grew up in Kamloops so if there was one team I wanted it to be against it was this one,” Calhoon said. “The Boys loved it, it was good.”

Kamloops answered back with a little over three minutes left in the period as Zellweger potted his second of the game, capitalizing on a 5-on-3 power play for the Blazers. On the same man advantage, before Zellweger’s goal, Langkow took a shot up high and was down for a few minutes before he was up and ready for action.

Langkow had 28 saves on the night for his 21st win of the year. The Vegreville product says once he got back up it was about getting refocused on the game.

“Just stay locked in, stay focused and keep doing the same things,” Langkow said. “Whether something hurts or not I just have to do my best to battle.”

The Tigers were heading into the final intermission with a 4-2 lead before Brendan Lee skated his way into the Kamloops end and flipped a puck up and over Matthew Kieper with 6.5 seconds left in the period for the 5-2 lead. Owen MacNeil and Basha had the assists on Lee’s 25th on the year.

Offence kept flowing in the third period as Basha notched his second goal of the night 2:14 into the final frame. Oasiz Wiesblatt and Basha had a 2-on-1 breakaway and it was Basha finding the back of the net for his 14th goal of the year.

The Blazers responded at the 7:22 mark with their third power play goal of the night off the stick of Caedan Bankier. But the Tigers held their own and Tyler MacKenzie potted an empty net goal with 3:44 left in the game for the eventual 7-3 final score.

The Tigers (24-23-8-1) sit in seventh place of the Eastern conference, with a pivotal matchup Tuesday at Co-op Place against the Swift Current Broncos who are behind the Tigers in eighth place by two points.

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