By James Tubb on February 6, 2024.
The Medicine Hat Tigers got back in the win column Tuesday night.
After a pair of losses on the road over the weekend, the Tigers scored four unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 win at Co-op Place over the Regina Pats. The victory is the Tigers 30th on the season, matching their 2022-23 season total with 18 games remaining on the season.
Head coach Willie Desjardins says they didn’t play their best in the win.
“Regina had an awful lot of chances, we had a chance to put the game away but we didn’t,” Desjardins said. “(Zach) Zahara was very good in net and that’s a really good sign for us.”
The Tigers were outshot by the Pats 31-24 with Zahara making 29 saves for his 13th win of the season. The 18-year-old made multiple breakaway saves, keeping the Tigers in the game. After allowing an early goal, Zahara says he focused on restarting the game.
“Just take it on shot at a time, can’t get too down on yourself after the first goal there,” Zahara said. “Just bounce back and have good habits and hopefully turn out good like it did tonight.”
Regina opened the scoring early in the first.
Corbon Aimen got behind the Medicine Hat defencemen and scored on a breakaway 3:23 into the game.
The Tigers answered back just under 10 minutes later.
Gavin McKenna took a rush pass from Oasiz Wiesblatt and backhanded the puck into the net for a 1-1 game. Hunter St. Martin had the second assist on McKenna’s 22nd.
The Tigers grabbed a 2-1 lead with a late power play. Wiesblatt redirected in a shot from McKenna to grab the lead. Tomas Mrsic had the second assist as the Tigers led 2-1 after 20 minutes.
Andrew Basha rattled off two goals early in the second for a 4-1 Medicine Hat lead.
The NHL draft eligible forward took a pass at the Regina blue line and blew past the defenceman and wired a shot past Kelton Pyne 2:12 into the second. Bogdans Hodass and Zach Zahara he the helpers.
Basha notched his second of the game 5:09 later in easy fashion. The 18-year-old floated a puck on net from the point that found twine for his 22nd. McKenna and Hodass had the assists.
The Calgary product was happy to contribute towards the win.
“Anytime you can contribute it’s good and it feels good to kind of be back on the scoresheet there but more importantly, the two points are a good feeling too.”
Regina drew within two early in the third. The Pats’ Sam Oremba scored on a back door pass off a turnover in the Medicine Hat end to make it a 4-2 game 1:28 into the final frame. The Tigers answered back with their second power play goal of the game, 4:41 later.
While in the Regina end, Basha sent a pass to Wiesblatt who one-timed a shot past Pyne for his second goal of the night and 22nd on the season. McKenna had the second assist for his third helper on the night.
The Tigers held on for the 5-2 win, snapping a two-game slide and giving them slight breathing room in the standings.
The Red Deer Rebels, who are second in the Central division, lost 4-3 to the Swift Current Broncos giving Medicine Hat a three-point lead on the division. Wiesblatt, who finished the night with two goals and an assist, says avoiding the losing streaks show the resiliency of their group.
“We just stay within the group and don’t go off and doing your own thing,” Wiesblatt said. “Staying as a group, as a family and just sticking together for 65 minutes.”
Across the ice from Zahara, Pyne made 19 saves. Medicine Hat capitalized on two of their seven power plays, Regina was held at bay on all five of their man advantages.
The Tigers (30-16-3-1) are on the road Friday when they head to Calgary to face the Hitmen before hosting the Rebels at Co-op Place on Saturday.