It was another classic barn burner at the Art Hauser on Saturday night, and the Medicine Hat Tigers came out on top over the Prince Albert Raiders 6-4.
It was almost a must win game for the Raiders, who are fighting for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and for head coach Marc Habscheid, it was disappointing to lose to the last place team in the league.
“We’re fighting for points, and it’s disappointing to lose to a team below us in the standings,” Habscheid said. “Medicine Hat looked more hungry than us tonight, and credit to them.”
The Raiders fall to 15-21-1-1 with the loss. They return to action on Tuesday night on the road against the Regina Pats.
“It was a tough one,” Raiders forward Herman said afterwards. “I thought we were moving the puck and finding each other on the ice. The outcome wasn’t what we wanted, and we have to be better next time.”
Oasiz Wiesblatt opened the scoring for the Tigers 11:58 into the game. Wiesblatt picked off a pass in the Raider zone and absolutely undressed Tikhon Chaika in front of the net, making a forehand to backhand deke, and slipping a shot past the Raider netminder. Like their game in Saskatoon on Friday night, the Tigers scored the first goal of the contest.
The Raiders tied the game with a powerplay marker with 4:05 left in the first. Carson Latimer made a gorgeous toe drag move on a one on one break, but was denied by goaltender Garin Bjorklund. However just moments later, Remy Aquilon sent a pass to the left circle for Evan Herman, and Herman sniped a laser short side to the top corner. His team leading 15th goal of the season tied the game at 1-1 going into the first intermission.
Medicine Hat retook the lead in the second period on a Brendan Lee tip from the slot. Landon Kosior couldn’t find a pass in his feet near the Raider blue line, allowing the Tigers to set up in the offensive zone. Reid Andreson took a wrist shot from the point that Lee redirected five hole on Chaika, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.
That lead didn’t last very long however, as Herman scored his second of the night just 18 seconds later. Tayem Gislason sent a pass from the goal line in front, and all Herman had to do was tap the puck in to tie the game. He did just that, and the game was even again at 2-2.
Prince Albert took their first lead of the night just under two minutes later on a four on two rush. Nolan Allan led the charge, sending a low shot on goal. Bjorklund got a piece of the puck, but it was trickling towards the goal line. Zachary Wilson crashed the net and banged home the loose puck, scoring his second goal of the season, and the Raiders took a 3-2 lead with 13:56 left in the middle frame.
“It’s good to see those guys getting rewarded,” Herman said of Wilson and Lodewyk. “They work hard every day in practice and on the ice. It’s nice to see them making big plays.”
The Tigers struck again during four on four play with 8:57 left in the second. Gleb Ivanov sent a pass from the right wall to the high slot, and Noah Danielson was left all alone in front. With loads of time, Danielson sniped a shot far side past Chaika, and once again the game was tied. Danielson’s ninth goal of the year made it a 3-3 game.
After Harrison Lodewyk scored his first WHL goal in Red Deer on Monday night, he potted his second WHL goal with 3:06 left in the second period on Saturday. The centre displayed a phenomenal forecheck, stripping a Tigers defenceman of the puck, leaving a clean breakaway chance. Making no mistake, Lodewyk beat Bjorklund with a shot that went off the post and in, putting the Raiders back on top 4-3.
The seesaw battle continued less than a minute later, as Ivanov scored a goal of his own for Medicine Hat. Taking a one timer from the point, Ivanov’s shot fooled Chaika, but after a replay of the goal, it looked like the netminder was hit with a skate to the chest just before the goal. However, Habscheid decided not to challenge the play, and the game was tied 4-4 after an entertaining two periods.
“I don’t know what our structure was in the second period, because there wasn’t much of it,” Habscheid said. “We cheated on the game early. It was disappointing because we talked about that this morning. We just cheated the game early and we paid for it.”
Two more goals were scored in the third period, however, and they were both scored by Wiesblatt. First, it was a two on one break for the Tigers that got the third started 3:33 in. Lee sauced a pass to the tape of the brother of Raider forward Ozzy Wiesblatt, and he one timed a shot home. It looked like Chaika had made the save, but he just didn’t get enough of the shot, and Medicine Hat went up by a 5-4 score.
Wiesblatt added his third goal of the game into an empty net, as the Tigers came away with the 6-4 victory.