Ex-Tigers turn the tide

Ger­lach, Haden score key goals

Medicine Hat News - - SPORTS - RYAN MCCRACKEN rm­c­cracken@medicine­hat­news.com Twit­ter: MHNMcCracken

Max Ger­lach and Gary Haden had a re­turn to re­mem­ber on Fri­day night at the Canalta Cen­tre.

It was the first time ei­ther of the for­mer Medicine Hat Tigers re­turned to the Gas City since be­ing traded sep­a­rately over the past year, and they com­bined for a tide-turn­ing im­pact by scor­ing in suc­ces­sion to erase an early deficit and lock up a 3-1 vic­tory for the Saska­toon Blades.

“When you come into games like this, when you’ve played for this team, you want to be the guy that kind of sticks the knife into them,” said Ger­lach. “I’ve scored a lot of goals in this rink, but ob­vi­ously not any for this team so it felt re­ally good in my first time back.”

Haden ad­mit­ted he fell vic­tim to the early jit­ters, but the 19-year-old for­ward shook them off and fol­lowed up Ger­lach’s tally with the even­tual game-win­ner early in the third.

“Hon­estly, I felt like I was 17 again when I came in here,” added Haden. “I was re­ally ner­vous in the first pe­riod, even in the sec­ond. Go­ing into the third I fi­nally just said, ‘OK, it’s just a hockey game.”

Saska­toon pushed the pace off the hop but it was Tigers winger Josh Wil­liams who broke through with the open­ing salvo. The 17-year-old Lan­g­ley prod­uct was driv­ing the net when he picked up a feed from Li­nus Nassen and tapped it be­hind Blades goal­tender Nolan Maier to ex­tend his bud­ding point streak to five games with three goals and three as­sists in the span. Tigers cap­tain James Hamblin pushed his own point streak to nine games with the sec­ond as­sist, his 15th point of the stretch.

“I thought we had a pretty good game,” said Hamblin. “We played pretty well, I think it just comes down to bear­ing down on some clears, on some chances in front of the net. I think if we do that, it’s a dif­fer­ent out­come.”

Medicine Hat car­ried the mo­men­tum into the sec­ond and hemmed the Blades into their own end for the ma­jor­ity of the frame, but they were un­able to squeeze an­other puck through Maier and then Ger­lach pushed back for Saska­toon on a late power play.

The over­age Texan — shipped to the Blades at least sea­son’s trade dead­line — knot­ted things up af­ter creep­ing down to the cir­cle and beat­ing Tigers goal­tender Jor­dan Hol­lett off the shoul­der with Eric Van Impe in the box for trip­ping — set­ting up a win­ner-take-all third pe­riod.

“I was pretty pumped up (af­ter Ger­lach’s goal). Then Max said, ‘Now it’s your turn,’” said Haden. “Lucky enough I go to the net and get a greasy one and we get a big win. That’s all that mat­ters.”

Haden pot­ted the gamewin­ner just past the fiveminute mark of the third when he crashed the net and jammed a re­bound through Hol­lett. The goal stood as his fifth of the sea­son, and fourth since be­ing traded from Medicine Hat to Saska­toon on Oct. 25.

“I’m re­ally happy for Gary,” said Ger­lach. “I’m glad he’s here. He’s re­ally been great for our team since he’s got­ten here and he’s just go­ing to keep get­ting bet­ter.”

The Tigers pres­sured for an equal­izer, but Maier held the door closed and Ri­ley McKay iced the game with a late empty-net­ter.

Maier col­lected the 35-save vic­tory to lift Saska­toon to 117-2-0 on the year.

Hol­lett stopped 28 in the loss, drop­ping Medicine Hat to 9-8-0-2.

“They got some good, qual­ity shots and Jor­dan made some re­ally good saves,” said Hamblin. “We don’t want to de­pend on our goalie, but we do have con­fi­dence in them.”

Hat winger Tyler Prez­iuso had a nine-game point streak snapped in the loss.

The Tigers re­turn to Canalta Cen­tre Sat­ur­day to host the Ed­mon­ton Oil Kings (11-7-1-1) at 7:30 p.m.

“We’ll take to­day and learn from it,” said Hamblin. “It’s a quick turn­around but we’ll come back ready to go.”

NEWS PHOTO RYAN MCCRACKEN

The Medicine Hat Tigers a n d Saska­toon Blades bat­tle for a loose puck in front of Tigers goal­tender Jor­dan Hol­lett dur­ing the first pe­riod of Fri­day’s West­ern Hockey League game at the Canalta Cen­tre.

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