By James Tubb on December 30, 2023.
The Medicine Hat Tigers ended the year of 2023 on a sour note.
The Tigers lost their final game of the year, falling 4-2 Saturday night at Co-op Place to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Medicine Hat came into the loss off a 3-1 defeat Friday at the hands of the Swift Current Broncos.
“I didn’t think we started good but I thought we played pretty good during the middle part of the game, I thought we took it away,” head coach Willie Desjardins said. “We got good goaltending, their goaltender played well and it’s probably game that could have gone either way.”
The Tigers opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period.
Captain Tyler MacKenzie showcased his hand eye while batting a rebound out of mid-air to crack the scoreboard 10:53 into the contests. Andrew Basha had the lone assists on MacKenzie’s 14th on the year.
The Hurricanes answered back early in the second period, scoring the first of three unanswered goals. Forward Miguel Marques finished off a rush opportunity 3:44 into the frame to make it a 1-1 contest. Medicine Hat led the game in shots 32-18 through 40 minutes.
Lethbridge rattled off two goals in the first 10 minutes of the final frame for the eventual win. Tyson Zimmer bounced a puck off a Tigers’ defenceman while straddling the goal line 5:29 into the third. The Hurricanes followed up that power play goal with a two-on-one breakaway goal from Trae Wilke to make it 3-1 with 10:30 left in the game.
Medicine Hat answered back soon after, exciting the 3,258 faithful in attendance.
Brett Calhoon was left all alone at the side of the net and after receiving a cross-crease pass from Basha, potted his second of the season to make it a one-goal game. Nate Corbet had the second assist on the marker.
Medicine Hat pushed late in the frame, pulling the goalie for the extra attacker for the second straight game. And for the second contest in a row, that empty net was capitalized on as defenceman Joe Arntsen fired a shot from the hashmarks in the Hurricane end that ticked off the raised stick of Gavin McKenna at centre ice and dribbled into the net.
Lethbridge held on for the 4-2 win, handing Medicine Hat their second loss in as many nights.
The Tigers were without forwards Cayden Lindstrom and Tomas Mrsic for the third straight game. Both Lindstrom (upper body) and Mrsic (illness) are marked as day-to-day.
MacKenzie says their weekend games were disappointing and something they can’t continue.
“That’s not how we play and that’s not how we want to play, obviously that’s something we’re going to have to discuss,” MacKenzie said. “Lethbridge outplayed us tonight, not really much to it. We turned too many pucks over, were too lazy and we didn’t play our game.”
Zach Zahara made 22 saves in his eighth start of the season. Across the ice from him, Harrison Meneghin had 34 saves for the win.
The Tigers (22-11-2) are off for two days before they host the Red Deer Rebels at Co-op Place on Tuesday.