MEDICINE HAT, AB – James Hamblin sent the Canalta Centre into a frenzy with his first period goal, but it would be the only moment of joy for the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday.
Hamblin scored the Tigers’ lone goal of the game in the first period as part of the Tigers annual Teddy Bear Toss game, however the Lethbridge Hurricanes proved to be too much in a 3-1 loss.
Fans waited with bated breath in the first period to launch their teddies over the glass, coming close midway through the frame when Corson Hopwo whiffed on a pass in the slot.
Medicine Hat’s first power play of the night came after a skirmish between Ryan Jevne and Igor Merezhko, and it would be a familiar face stepping up.
With 5:22 left in the second period, Hamblin received an outlet feed from Mads Sogaard, streaked in on Reece Klassen and unloaded a slap shot for his 12th of the season to send the teddy bears skyward over the glass.
Etching his name into Medicine Hat lore, Hamblin joins former teammates David Quenneville, Max Gerlach, and Matt Bradley as Tigers to score the Teddy Bear Toss goal in recent years.
Hamblin’s goal remained the only one of the game well into the middle period, but that changed with a Hurricanes rush up the right side midway through the second.
Lethbridge captain Jordy Bellerive picked up a loose puck and snapped a wrist shot from the right face-off dot to tie the game at 1-1 for the Hurricanes.
That goal seemed to ignite the Hurricanes offence, with newly acquired forward Jake Leschyshyn beating Sogaard top shelf on the power play less than three minutes later.
Medicine Hat’s struggles on the penalty kill continued in the final minute of the second period, allowing a goal from the right side courtesy of Dylan Cozens to make it a 3-1 game heading to the intermission.
The ‘Tabbies’ thought they were able to climb to within a goal late in the third period, but after video review it was found Klassen was able to keep a loose puck off the goal line to the dismay of the Medicine Hat faithful.
Sogaard finished his evening with the loss allowing three Hurricanes goals on 26 shots, while the Tigers penalty kill only went one-for-three on the night.
Dropping back to a below .500 record of 12-13-1-2, the loss snaps a two-game win streak for the Tigers as they are now tied with the Calgary Hitmen for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
It’s a quick turnaround for the Tigers as they load up the bus for the ‘Queen City’ on Sunday to face the Regina Pats at 3:00 pm to kick off a three-game road swing through Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
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