POST GAME: TIGERS AT CANES
It was a valiant effort, but the Canes were unable to complete the comeback, falling 3-2 to the visiting Tigers.
The game started with lots of energy from both sides. There was a pretty decent crowd at the rink tonight – and while attendance wasn’t announced – I would guess there was around 1,000 people there. The Canes were outplayed for the first half of the game. They looked tentative in the first period and didn’t generate very much offensively. Meanwhile, the Tigers were aggressive on the puck – forcing numerous turnovers and capitalizing on two chances to take an early lead. The Tigers had a great forecheck and seemed to have a much easier time exiting their own zone than did the Canes.
It was much of the same for the first half of the second period. The Canes weren’t playing terrible, but were making costly mistakes leading to turnovers and high quality scoring chances. By the end of the second they did start to look better and generated more shots. At the end of the second the score was 3-0 Tigers – with Medicine Hat outshooting the Canes 20-36.
Things changed quickly in the third thanks to an early Callen Addison goal. The Canes seemed get some confidence from that point on and played their best period. While there were still a few quality chances for the Tigers, the Canes poured on the pressure and eventually got within one thanks to Brett Davis who was impressive all night.
Despite looking dangerous, the Canes weren’t able to find the equalizer, eventually falling 3-2. Overall, there are lots of great things for coach Kisio to build on, especially the third period. There were also a handful of players that really rose to the occasion and positioned themselves well heading into the remaining exhibition games. The first half of the game was reminiscent of play from last season with the Canes being hemmed in their own zone and failing to establish meaningful offensive zone time. It was great to see that shift in the second half and I hope we see more of that moving forward.
Of course, we also need to remember that this is pre-season hockey, and not to read too far into anything. The Canes played a hard fought game and came up short thanks to a lack-luster first half. They also failed to generate a goal from a full two minute 5-3 powerplay, a turning point in the game.
We do it all again this coming Tuesday as the Canes visit Kootenay.
- Callen Addison: Was everywhere tonight. The most impressive player on either team from where I watched the game. Extremely calm and composed. Not tall, but strong for his age. Above average slapshot with deceiving velocity. Played the entire game with Nielsen. Saw time on the PP and PK. Moves the puck very well – most passes landing right on the tape. Hockey fans in Lethbridge should be thrilled to have this guy in the system. Could probably be an impact player at 15 if he were allowed to play the season. Finished the night with a goal and an assist. No brainer for next season.
- Brett Davis: Second most impressive Cane in my books tonight. Was on a line with Zane Franklin and Georgio Estephan for most of the night. They were the Canes most effective forward unit – particularly in the second half of the game. Davis was a big part of that. He scored a wrister from the high circle that floated over the glove hand of the Tigers netminder then later drew a penalty in his own zone by moving his feet.
- 5-3 looked dangerous. Great puck movement by Nielsen and Addison. Bellerive got robbed by the Tigers goaltender part way through. As dangerous as it looked, they failed to score.
- Both Canes goaltenders looked sharp. Skinner and Sittler split the game 50-50. Both made some big stops. Skinner always impresses with his rebound control, something I would give him the edge over Sittler in. Sittler made some fantastic pad saves along the ice and seems to display some great lateral movement. Have noticed he has had more than one puck jump out of his glove during camp and again tonight. Again noticed Sittler is a great communicator, always looking to help out his Dmen.
- Looked sharp on the backend with Addison. Displayed some leadership and seemed to speak for the team when it was required. Will be an on ice leader whether he is named captain or not.
- Barrett Sheen absolutely leveled Tigers player no. 29. He was injured on the play, likely suffering a laceration on his face. It was a boarderline hit, with Sheen’s elbow coming up ever so slightly, but the ref deemed it clean and play moving on. The Canes were physical tonight but they didn’t run the Tigers out of the building. Great to see that the Canes have transitioned to the “big” team on the ice now. Even with the young lineup, the Canes were the bigger, more physical team.
- Great to see the team rebound from a sub-par first to periods to pull within one in the third.
- Josh Tarzwell: Saved a sure Tiger goal in the first thanks to a great stickcheck on the edge of Skinners crease.
- Got off to a slow start. Territorially dominated in the first period. Badly outshot during that time.
- Allowed too many shots. Medicine Hat finished the night with close to 50 shots on goal. Largely due to…
- The Canes gave up far too many turnovers tonight. The turnovers were happening all over the ice, including the neutral and defensive zones.
- Babenko made bit of a bad read leading to one of the Tigers goals in the first. He got aggressive on the forecheck, missing the puck, giving the Tigers a 2-1 from the blue-line in.
- Tough goal for Stuart Skinner who was clearly screened by Tigers number 22. It was a soft shot low along the ice that found its way five-hole early in the second.
- Merezhko, while good for much of the game, had one or two cringe-worthy plays where he simply failed to defend due to being a step behind the play. In one particular instance, he entered a 2-1 late going the other way and couldn’t get a stick or body in front of a point blank shot. Foot speed will be an issue when he gets out of position. Has been pretty steady otherwise.
- Bit of a tough read by Darian Skeoch on the third Tigers goal. He was looking to finish his hit in the neutral zone and the puck was moved up ice, catching him out of position. The forward that covered for him lost body position in front of the net and the Tigers were able to score a pretty easy goal. Want to note that Skeoch did a fantastic job on numerous occasions to break the opposition cycle using his size and strength. Something the Canes desperately need more of this season…
- Nick Watson, who played an otherwise solid game, was bailed out by Sittler after passing it directly to a Tiger in his (Watson’s) own zone. The play came at the end of a Canes powerplay, likely causing some miscommunication.
- Thunder-Chief, while meaning the best, took two charging penalties tonight. The first, a blatantly aggressive hit that came late, was absolutely deserving of a penalty. I felt the second wasn’t as bad, and probably wouldn’t have been called if it wasn’t a second offense situation. Regardless, he really brought the crowd to life and could play the ‘tough guy’ roll. Will need to avoid taking dumb penalties from here on in if he want to stick around longer. A matter of picking his spots with a little more care/caution.
It was great to be back at the Enmax to watch a Canes Tigers game even if the result wasn’t what we had hoped for.
Be sure to comment below on what plays/players really stuck out to you.