MEDICINE HAT, AB - Overtime is becoming a playground for the Medicine Hat Tigers, as they used extra time for the second straight weekend to defeat the Calgary Hitmen in the back half of their home and home set.
Meeting on Friday night in Calgary, the Tigers won their third straight contest by a 4-2 final score, thanks to a pair of goals from Mark Rassell.
The Tigers were caught flat-footed early on Saturday, with Calgary’s Jake Kryski being left alone in front of Michael Bullion, picking up the rebound and giving the Hitmen a 1-0 lead 1:19 in.
It didn’t remain that way for long however, as four minutes later it was Gary Haden and Jaeger White sprung on a two-on-one chance.
Haden’s shot beat Schneider and trickled towards the goal line, with White finishing the job with his second of the season to knot the game at 1-1.
Both teams traded punches for the rest of the first period, until Tigers sniper Max Gerlach received a pass in the slot and roofed it for his fifth of the year with 3:18 left in the frame.
It looked like Medicine Hat would take a lead into the intermission, but Calgary’s Jake Bean had other plans with a power play rocket with 41 seconds left in the period to tie it at 2-2.
Tigers head coach Shaun Clouston wasn’t too happy with the goal claiming there should have been a kneeing penalty seconds before, but the goal would hold up.
Rassell continued his scorching play against the Hitmen in the second period, tipping home a David Quenneville shot on the power play for his 17th of the season and his third in two games.
Medicine Hat almost extended their lead to a pair of goals midway through the second with a Dawson Heathcote wraparound attempt, which was stymied by the skate of Bean.
At the other end of the ice shortly after, Bullion came up with his best stop of the gave with a fantastic glove hand save on Bean to keep it a 3-2 Tigers lead.
Calgary struck quickly in the third though, getting a contribution from Jakob Stukel in the slot going bar-down and making it a 3-3 game just over 30 seconds into the period.
Schneider finally solved Rassell just a few minutes later, stoning the Tigers captain on a breakaway for one of his best stops on the evening.
Calgary thought they took the lead back with 14:46 left in the period, as Andrew Fyten was stopped on a breakaway but put in the rebound with his skate.
After much deliberation between the on-ice officials, the call on the ice was overturned in favour of a kicked-in, no-goal call and it remained a 3-3 game.
Tempers came to a head near the midway mark of the third, when Medicine Hat’s Cameron MacPhee and Calgary’s Luke Coleman ditched the mitts for a spirited tilt.
Nothing else was solved in regulation, as the Tigers needed overtime for the second straight weekend.
Calgary’s Matteo Gennaro was gifted a beautiful chance on a breakaway but was stymied by Bullion, while Ryan Chyzowski was stoned on his own individual effort seconds later by Schneider.
The game looked destined to head to a shootout, until Rassell picked up the loose puck in the offensive zone and dished it over to Gerlach, who scored his second of the game and the OT winner to book a 4-3 win for Medicine Hat.
Both Bullion and Schneider were outstanding, with Bullion picking up the win with 36 saves and Schneider stopping 32 shots in the defeat.
Winning their fourth straight contest, the Tigers maintain first place in the Central Division with a 12-6 record and are now seven points clear of Red Deer and Kootenay.
Medicine Hat’s home stand continues on Tuesday night for a mid-week matchup against the Kootenay Ice, puck drop at the Canalta Centre goes at 7:00 pm.
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