Koote­nay pays a visit, Tab­bies win 4-1

Tigers cap­tain nets hat trick in 4-1 win over Koote­nay Ice

Medicine Hat News - - FRONT PAGE - RYAN McCRACKEN rm­c­cracken@medicine­hat­news.com Twit­ter: MHNMcCracken

Mark Ras­sell added a hat trick to his grow­ing list of early-sea­son ac­com­plish­ments on Tues­day night at the Canalta Cen­tre.

The Medicine Hat Tigers cap­tain scored a pair in the first pe­riod be­fore com­plet­ing his first hat trick of the year in the third to lead his team to their fifth straight win in a 4-1 vic­tory over the Koote­nay Ice.

“It feels good. I’ve had plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties where I’ve scored two goals but I hadn’t quite been able to get the hat trick,” said Ras­sell. “I’m happy I got my first two pretty quickly and had the rest of the game to find that third one.”

Ryan Jevne kicked off the scor­ing with his fifth of the year. The 19-yearold winger took a cross-ice feed from Ryan Chy­zowski off the skate then fired the puck through Ice goal­tender and for­mer Tiger Dun­can McGovern to give his team an early lead.

Mark Ras­sell kept the pres­sure on two min­utes later by de­flect­ing a Dal­ton Gally point shot past McGovern. The play went to a re­view, but it was de­ter­mined Ras­sell’s stick was be­low the cross bar when he made con­tact with the puck, and the goal stood.

The 20-year-old Calgary prod­uct went right back to it three min­utes later, draw­ing a penalty shot and beat­ing McGovern clean on the en­su­ing chance with a low shot to the glove side. It was the third con­sec­u­tive game in which Ras­sell scored on a for­mer team­mate after pot­ting three on Calgary Hit­men goal­tender Nick Sch­nei­der over the week­end’s home-and-home set.

“It’s so weird. When I get break­aways I don’t know what to do be­cause I have my goto moves and they know them,” said Ras­sell. “That penalty shot on Dun­can, I didn’t know what to do but I fig­ured I would go out there and try to sur­prise him with a shot and clearly it worked.”

“I had déjà vu prob­a­bly 50 times on the ice to­day, not rec­og­niz­ing which jersey was my team,” added McGovern. “I’ve built a lot of re­la­tion­ships here in Medicine Hat even though I was only here for a cou­ple years.”

Koote­nay mus­tered a re­sponse in the dy­ing sec­onds of the open­ing pe­riod when winger Se­bas­tian Streu chipped a puck past Tigers net­min­der Jor­dan Hol­lett with just three sec­onds left on the clock. “They threw ev­ery­thing at us and we ex­pected that. Koote­nay has a good team. They’re play­ing much harder with much more struc­ture,” said Tigers head coach and gen­eral man­ager Shaun Clous­ton. “I thought we did a good job of muck­ing around and bat­tling in front of the net.”

The goal­tenders tight­ened things up in the mid­dle frame. Hol­lett and McGovern both closed out the sec­ond with 10 saves apiece to pre­serve Medicine Hat’s two-goal lead en­ter­ing the third.

Ras­sell com­pleted the hat trick with seven min­utes left in the third by fir­ing a re­bound past McGovern for his team-lead­ing 20th goal of the sea­son.

While Koote­nay amped up the pres­sure in the third and di­rected 13 pucks on Hol­lett in the frame, the 18year-old net­min­der stopped ev­ery one — for a to­tal of 30 in the con­test — to lock up the vic­tory and push Medicine Hat to 13-6-0-0 on the year. McGovern took the 23-save loss, drop­ping Koote­nay to 8-12-1-0.

“They got a cou­ple qual­ity chances but I think our team did a pretty good job of keep­ing it to the out­side,” said Hol­lett. “We knew they were go­ing to push hard, ev­ery team does down two goals … Ob­vi­ously it was huge to get that fourth goal in­stead of giv­ing up a sec­ond.”

Ras­sell has col­lected 11 points through his last four games for a to­tal of 29 on the sea­son.

Tigers cen­tre James Ham­blin was miss­ing for a sec­ond straight con­test. The 18-year-old Ed­mon­ton prod­uct is day-to-day after tweak­ing his knee in Fri­day’s 4-2 win over the Calgary Hit­men.

The Tigers re­turn to the Canalta Cen­tre Fri­day to host the Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos (13-4-1-0) at 7:30 p.m.

NEWS PHOTO RYAN MCCRACKEN

Medicine Hat Tigers cap­tain Mark Ras­sell beats his for­mer team­mate Dun­can McGovern on a penalty shot dur­ing the first pe­riod of Tues­day's Western Hockey League game against the Koote­nay Ice at the Canalta Cen­tre.

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