By Yoos, Cam on December 4, 2019.
Southern Alberta Newspapers – medicine hat
There was no love lost Tuesday night at the Canalta Centre.
In the middle of a heated race for the top of the Western Hockey League’s Central Division, the Medicine Hat Tigers welcomed the rival Lethbridge Hurricanes for the first of two games between the clubs this week – and it did not disappoint.
Physical play took the spotlight early, but speed prevailed in the long run as Ryan Chyzowski and Brett Kemp both finished with four points to leapfrog Lethbridge in the standings with an 8-3 victory.
“We’re kind of in a battle with them and Edmonton for the top of our division, so I think it was huge to take it to them like we did tonight,” said Chyzowski.
“We didn’t want to let them back us down or be intimidated by their physicality because that’s a big part of their game. I think it was great to see the boys stepping up and going back at them. I think it really shut them down and gave us energy.”
The result pushes Medicine Hat to 19-7-1-0 on the season – one point ahead of Lethbridge (17-8-0-4) for second in the Central and three behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (18-6-4-2) for first.
“That was our first real bad game of the year,” said Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio. “Medicine Hat came out hard. They were moving the puck and they played a strong game. Unfortunately we didn’t match a lot of things they did tonight.”
Eager to make up that one-point gap, the Tigers aggressively took control of the early flow. After a back-and-forth march to the penalty box, Chyzowski gave Medicine Hat a lead by sneaking a rebound through Canes’ netminder Carl Tetachuk on the power play.
Lethbridge muscled their way back into the contest just over a minute later when Chase Wheatcroft fired a shot over the glove of Garin Bjorklund, but Dru Krebs restored the Tabby lead in the dying minutes of the first by beating Tetachuk on a pass from Chyzowski for the second goal of his career.
“We played fast, we played how we wanted to play,” said Kemp. “We got pucks deep and got lots of shots.”
Noah Danielson extended Medicine Hat’s lead early in the second, chipping a shot over Tetachuk on the backhand for the first goal of his WHL career.
The Hurricanes managed to create a bit of pressure following a cross-checking call to James Hamblin, but the Tabby captain escaped the box unscathed then set up Tyler Preziuso on an odd-man rush a few minutes later.
“We’ve just got to be way harder on them,” said Hurricanes forward Dylan Cozens. “We got kind of bullied out there. They were finishing every check on us and we were pretty soft. They were coming hard on our D and we weren’t doing the same thing to them.”
Cozens struck to give his team some life late in the middle frame – finishing off a feed from Oliver Okuliar to make it a 4-2 game after 40 minutes.
But a late roughing penalty to Calen Addison left Lethbridge shorthanded to open the third and Elijah Brown quickly found Kemp on the doorstep to re-establish a three-goal edge.
Refusing to go quietly, Hurricanes forward Logan Barlage converted on a power play with Preziuso in the box for slashing – but the momentum was almost immediately halted when D-Jay Jerome was sent to the bin for hooking and Chyzowski cashed in from the slot.
“Our power play has been unreal this year,” said Chyzowski, whose all-forward power play unit went 3-for-5 with the advantage. “We’re five pretty skilled players that can kind of ad-lib out there. (Assistant coach Ryan Smith) gives us structure, then we kind of work with it and play with it. I think that’s been going good for us. It’s a huge part of our game.”
The 19-year-old Kamloops product found Kemp streaking down the ice a few minutes later and fed him a stretch pass for a highlight-reel tally to earn a rousing ovation from the crowd of 2,678.
“That’s what we’ve been kind of known for, taking over in the third,” said Kemp. “Our conditioning is second-to-none in the league and I think it’s really paying off.”
Nick Perna joined the scoring party later in the frame with a blast from the point – chasing Tetachuk from the crease in favour of Bryan Thomson with his first goal since joining Medicine Hat in a trade with the Portland Winterhawks last week.
“Danielson got his first, Perna got his first. A lot of guys chipped in,” said Tigers assistant coach Joe Frazer. “All four lines are rolling, the D chipped in and Garin played well in net. It was a great team effort.”
Bjorklund held on for the 20-save victory, while Tetachuk stopped 21 shots to take the loss. Thomson turned away five in relief for Lethbridge.
The Tigers and Hurricanes meet for a rematch on Friday at the Enmax Centre, though Lethbridge will first host the Everett Silvertips (17-6-1-0) tonight at 7 p.m.