June 12th, 2024

Tigers get doubled up Wednesday night by Winterhawks

By James Tubb on November 1, 2023.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Tigers forward Oasiz Wiesblatt crouches to block a shot in the first period of the Tigers' 6-3 loss Wednesday night at Co-op Place against the Portland Winterhawks.

Despite leading by one goal after 40 minutes, the Medicine Hat Tigers suffered a frustrating loss Wednesday night.

The Tigers allowed four third period goals to fall 6-3 against the Portland Winterhawks at Co-op Place.

Medicine Hat came into the contest off two straight wins last weekend, with Wednesday’s game kicking off a stretch of four games in five nights. Head coach Willie Desjardins says he liked his team’s play to start until they lost discipline.

“There was some good things, we played really well early, I thought we played really well but our disciplined showed, ” Desjardins said. “Guys got frustrated because they weren’t getting offence and they took themselves out of the game. If you’re going to win, you can’t do that.”

The Tigers took 10 penalties on the night to Portland’s nine, with the Winterhawks capitalizing on three of their man advantages to Medicine Hat’s one power play goal.

The Tigers opened the scoring early in the first.

Captain Tyler MacKenzie redirected a point shot from Reid Andresen for the early 1-0 lead 5:37 into the game. Kadon McCann had the second assist on MacKenzie’s eighth of the season.

Portland answered back 2:32 later, with their captain Gabe Klassen finding the back of the net also for his eighth of the season.

Medicine Hat ended the first period with a 2-1 as Hunter St. Martin capitalized on a power play. The Edmonton product redirected a shot from Dru Krebs on a Tigers’ power play for the lead at the 12 minute mark.  Shane smith had the second assist on the goal and the Tigers led the opening frame in shots 9-6.

Wednesday’s contest marked the return of local product Ryan Miller, who was drafted by the Winterhawks in 2022 and is in his first full WHL season. He was happy to get the win in front of friends and family.

“It’s really exciting to get a win there, a nice big win coming off three straight losses, it’s good to get a bounce back there,” Miller said.

The Tigers again capitalized early in a period. McCann was beside the net and received a pass from Andresen at the point before tickling twine for the 3-1 lead with his second on the season.

Medicine Hat had a five-minute power play after James Stefan was ejected for a checking to the head major at the 6:20 mark. The Tigers couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage and it was Portland who drew blood later.

Portland head coach Mike Johnston tabbed that major penalty kill as a turning point for his team who picked up their first win on their Central division road trip.

“Our our guys really picked up their emotion, their intensity, we had a couple of scoring chances short handed and I thought from then on in the game, we played well,” Johnston said. “Give Medicine Hat credit, they always come out fast, they played with a lot of speed, they put you on your heels. Early in the game we were like that and they were really attacking. But as the game went along, we started to really play a puck possession game the way we play.

“It was just way too many penalties in the game, I don’t know what was going on tonight, why the refs were calling so many but it was one of those nights.”

The Winterhawks found themselves on the power play in the last five minutes of the second and Josh Davies, who lit up the Tigers while with the Swift Current Broncos, tipped in a point shot to make it a 3-2 game.

In the third, Portland tied it up early and never looked back.

Jack O’Brien scored his fourth of the season past Evan May to make it 3-3 at 2:55. They followed that offence up immediately by Davies banking a shot off a skate 54 seconds later to give the Winterhawks their first lead of the game. Then penalties hit the Tigers as former Medicine Hat draft pick Diego Buttazzoni buried two different power play markers at 8:44 and 9:28 en-route to the 6-3 win.

Both Medicine Hat forwards Cayden Lindstrom and Oasiz Wiesblatt received 10-minute misconducts in the third period that ended their nights prematurely. The Tigers’ forward core was already depleted with Gavin McKenna away from the team playing for Canada at the U17’s and Brayden Boehm out with a long-term upper body injury.

Medicine Hat played with 11 forwards and seven defencemen, with Nate Corbet stepping up from the backend to play forward. Desjardins liked the 17-year-old’s effort and says they need the younger players to continue stepping up.

“(Corbet) was good, that line with McCann played well and that’s exciting, a couple more young guys doing things,” Desjardins said. “We have some guys in spots  they haven’t been in before and it shows a little bit. We have a really, really good penalty kill but losing Boehm hurt it. We were riding him maybe a little too much early, we didn’t have other guys ready and we got caught on it. But our kill has been great for us, we just have to develop some more players, younger guys have to step up and be better.”

May started his 13th game of the season, making 26 saves in the loss. Across the ice from him, Jan Spunar made 22 saves for Portland.

The Tigers (9-5-1) are back in action and continuing their home stand Friday when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

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