RED DEER, AB - A Central Division crown will have to wait at least a couple more days for the Medicine Hat Tigers following a 5-2 setback in Red Deer on Saturday.
Needing a win and a Lethbridge Hurricanes loss to lock up the division, the Tigers allowed four third period goals to see a 2-1 lead evaporate over the final 20 minutes.
The Tigers got the game’s first goal less than six minutes into the contest, with Kristians Rubins ripping one from the slot on the power play to make it 1-0.
Less than 30 seconds later however, the Rebels evened the game up at 1-1 following a tap in by Brandon Hagel for his 15th of the year.
It stayed a 1-1 contest until the 3:42 mark of the second, as Bryan Lockner put one off the post and in for his 13th and Medicine Hat’s first lead of the game.
The Rebels weren’t ready to go away however, getting their second goal of the night off the blade of Kristian Reichel, who beat Michael Bullion up high early in the third to knot the game at 2-2.
Medicine Hat’s David Quenneville ran into penalty trouble late in the third period, taking a pair of penalties that saw Hagel and Reichel each get their second goals of the night to vault Red Deer into the lead 4-2.
Hagel completed the hat-trick on an empty-net goal with 39 seconds left, giving the Rebels a 5-2 comeback victory over the Tigers and a spot in the WHL playoffs.
Bullion allowed four goals in the loss with 27 saves to his name, while rookie Ethan Anders out-dueled the overager with a 34-save showing between the pipes for Red Deer.
Unable to put the final nail in the coffin to win the Central title, the Tigers remain eight points up on the Hurricanes, who weren’t able to make up any ground with a 5-3 loss to Regina on Saturday.
Entering the final week of the regular season, the Tabbies are back at home Tuesday night to welcome the Calgary Hitmen to town at 7:00 pm.
That will be followed up by a home-and-home series with the Hurricanes to close out the regular season on Friday and Saturday.
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