By James Tubb on January 27, 2024.
The Medicine Hat Tigers willed their way into a yet another momentous win.
The Tigers rallied with a three-goal third period Saturday night at Co-op Place to beat the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors 5-3.
Medicine Hat came into the game off a 6-5 shootout loss Friday at Moose Jaw where they gave up and early three goal lead. Head coach Willie Desjardins says they learned from Friday’s loss and battled in the win.
“Moose Jaw is a really good team, last night in Moose Jaw was a really tough game and they came at us, we learned a little bit,” Desjardins said. “We knew they’re probably a better team than we expected. Like they were fast and they worked hard. Tonight was a really big effort from everybody. It was a it was a good effort and it was great to get a win.”
Medicine Hat was without forward Marcus Pacheco for the third straight game, leaving them with 11 forwards and seven defencemen.
The Tigers opened the scoring 4:10 into the game, igniting the 4,189 fans in attendance. Hunter St. Martin outraced a defender on a breakaway and went back hand to put the puck past former teammate Evan May. Saturday night marked his first game back at Co-op Place since being traded to the Warriors at the Jan. 1o WHL trade deadline.
Gavin Mckenna and Oasiz Wiesblatt had the assists on St. Martin’s 19th.
The Warriors answered back with their first power play goal of the night. Brayden Yager fired a laser from the face-off dot to make it a 1-1 game 1:59 after St. Martin’s goal.
Medicine Hat grabbed the lead later in the frame. Hayden Harsanyi carried the puck up the ice on a 2-on-1 with Vasyl Spilka. Harsanyi looked shot before sending the pass to Spilka who scored his fifth of the season. Parsons had the second assist as Medicine Hat grabbed the 2-1 lead with 3:43 left in the first.
Moose Jaw tied it up and grabbed a lead in quick succession come the second. Jagger Firkus scored on a Moose Jaw power play to even it up at 2-2 12:19 into the middle frame. Just 1:25 later, Brayden Schuurman gobbled up a Tigers turnover in his end and skated off for a breakaway before scoring to grab a lead.
The Warriors led the game in goals and shots (21-13) after 40 minutes of action. Nate Corbet dropped the gloves in the middle of the second frame with Rilen Kovacevic. The 17-year-old’s fight with the 19-year-old forward was the second tilt of the night, with Rhett Parsons and Lucas Brenton squaring off for the second time this weekend early in the first period.
Both fights sparked an energy and McKenna says it means a lot to the group seeing how players like Corbet have stepped up while they’re shorthanded.
“He’s been unbelievable, the effort he puts in every day,” McKenna said. “We have guys who are just stepping up and it’s huge. That’s what we need as a team who wants to go far in the playoffs.”
Medicine Hat came back in the third period on the back of Ethan McCallum. The 17-year-old goaltender turned aside all nine shots he faced in the frame, including multiple breakaways and out-numbered chances that kept Medicine Hat in the game and eventually with the lead. McCallum says he was just worried about keeping it close for his teammates to complete the comeback.
“Just have to battle for the guys, they’re battling in front of me,” McCallum said. I had no reason to let another one in for them, especially with how hard they were working. So I have to keep it tight for them.”
The Tigers pushed throughout the third and weathered the storm from the Moose Jaw offence before starting the comeback. Just over the 12-minute mark of the frame, McKenna threw a puck toward the Warrior net that ricocheted off Matthew Savoie’s stick and into the net. St. Martin and Matt Paranych had the assists on McKenna’s 21st of the season.
A little over two minutes later, the Tigers took the lead. Off a power play face-off, McKenna sent the puck to Tomas Mrsic high in the zone and he one-timed the puck into the net for his 13th of the season and the eventual game winner. Andrew Basha had the second assist. Mrsic says they looked at that play off the power play during the second intermission.
“It’s a good play by Gavin and in the second intermission, we looked at that play and we saw the seam was open there,” Mrsic said. “I’m not I’m not normally in there but I jumped in that seam, got the pass from Gavlas–it was a good pass, and then finished it off.”
With 2:51 left in the game, Wiesblatt was to the left of the Moose Jaw net and just threw a puck towards the goal that snuck through a couple of bodies and tickled twine for the 5-3 final. McKenna and St. Martin had the helpers on Wiesblatt’s 20th.
Medicine Hat held on, outshot 30-19, for the 5-3 win that secures a three-point weekend and keeps them in second place of the Eastern conference and first in the Central division. McCallum finished his night with 27 saves, picking up his ninth win of the season. Across the ice from him, May made 14 saves.
Medicine Hat was 1-3 on the power play, Moose Jaw capitalized on two of their five man advantages. The Tigers donned blue and yellow SpongeBob Squarepants jerseys as part of Nickelodeon Night for Children’s Miracle Network.
The Tigers (28-14-3-1) are off until Friday when they head to Saskatoon to battle with the WHL leading Blades.