April 21st, 2024

Tigers double up Wheat Kings in win Tuesday

By James Tubb on March 5, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Tigers forward Tomas Mrsic admires his backhand breakaway shot as it crosses the goal line in the second period of a 6-3 win Tuesday night at Co-op Place over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

The Medicine Hat Tigers picked up a much needed win Tuesday night.

The Tigers scored for unanswered and held on to beat the Brandon Wheat Kings 6-3 at Co-op Place.

They came into the contest off their first shutout loss of the season, falling 2-0 to the Calgary Hitmen on Sunday. Associate coach Joe Frazer liked their intensity in the game Tuesday coming off the loss.

“It was more of a playoff feel to the game, obviously both special teams were great, Zach (Zahara) was great,” Frazer said. “We did a great job with our structure and made them come 200 feet. That’s a good hockey team and they need points so that was a big one.”

The Tigers’ power play was two-for-four and held the Wheat Kings man advantage to one-for-four. Brandon won the face-off battle 48-20.

Medicine Hat opened the scoring with 4:28 left in the first period. 

On a power play, Gavin McKenna fired a shot from the top of the circles that found twine for his 30th of the season. Andrew Basha had the lone assist. 

The Tigers kept the momentum going in the second. 

Just 2:53 into the frame, on another power play, Oasiz Wiesblatt fired a shot from the point that was tipped in by Shane Smith. McKenna had the second assist on Smith’s 29th. 

Exactly five minutes later, Tomas Mrsic took a pass from Rhett Parsons and wired a shot from the hash marks that was in and out of the net quick enough it needed review from the officials. The good goal call lit up the crowd of 3,175.

The 18-year-old then caused a turnover after Medicine Hat killed off a five-on-three penalty kill, getting the puck at his own blue line and scoring on the breakaway. His 21st of the season put the Tigers up 4-0 with 8:40 left in the frame. 

Mrsic’s second goal also chased Carson Bjarnason from the game, allowing four goals on 17 shots. Ethan Eskit took over in net. Eskit finished his night with 10 saves.

Mrsic liked how they handled the Wheat Kings push back and the resiliency of their group.

“That’s just showing what we can do in playoffs and just shutting teams down like that, it should be good for the playoffs,” Mrsic said.

The Wheat Kings mounted a comeback in the second. On their second two-man advantage, Jayden Weins knocked in a rebound to get the Wheat Kings on the board with less than five minutes left in the period. 

They made it a two-goal game off a breakaway. Zach Zahara stopped the original shot but Jackson DeSouza tapped in the puck sitting behind the Tiger net minder to make it 4-2 with 1:55 left in the second. 

The Tigers added to their tally over the midway point in the third period. Basha took a pass in the neutral zone from Tyler MacKenzie and skated in before roofing the shot for his 27th. His goal at 13:02 was followed up by the Wheat Kings potting  a marker on a rebound knock-in from Weins for his second of the game 1:30 later.

Medicine Hat held on and capped off the win with an empty netter from McKenna off a chip out from MacKenzie. Wiesblatt had the second assist on McKenna’s that solidified the 6-3 win.

Zahara made 28 saves in the win, his first victory in four starts. He says he felt better than usual and was happy to get the rebound as a group.

“It was obviously a must win game for us after dropping the last one to Calgary,” Zahara said. “So we needed these two points to have a good shot of getting that Central Division banner, so it was good to get that tonight.”

The Tigers (35-19-5-2) head to Lethbridge on Wednesday to battle the Hurricanes. Mrsic says the Enmax Centre is a tough building to play in but he says they’re looking forward to the contest.

“It’s about just sticking to our game, getting on their defence, wearing them down and it should be good for our group,” Mrsic said.

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