Hockey is often a game of inches.
The Medicine Hat Tigers proved that by scoring four goals within a few feet of the net en route to a 4-2 over the Red Deer Rebels.
Despite outshooting the Tigers 39-33 on Friday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium, the Red Deer Rebels are going to have to wait another week before they get their first home win of the season.
The loss knocks the Rebels down to 1-2 on the season after losing the home opener to the Edmonton Oil Kings last weekend.
“I thought five on five we were pretty good in the offensive zone but in the defensive zone you starting showing the stats where the guys score an inch from the goal,” said head coach Derrick Walser.
“We gave up four goals within two inches of the net and that’s how you score goals. It’s as simple as that. They won the blue paint battle tonight and good for them.”
Walser gave credit to their opponents saying the Tigers were meaner in front of the net and it paid off. Despite the Rebels’ struggles tonight, Walser said it wasn’t because of a lack of effort.
“You don’t get 40 shots without effort, right? I thought the kids worked hard but I think sometimes we didn’t work smart. I think you get a bunch of new bodies coming in and we weren’t in sync.”
The Rebels’ powerplay struggled to produce again going one for five with the man advantage. Meanwhile, the Tigers went one for three on the powerplay.
“Honestly, I wasn’t happy with the powerplay at all… We lost the battles on faceoffs so again that’s details we have to clean up.”
The Rebels’ first marker came three minutes and 21 seconds into the opening period. While skating down the right side of the offensive zone, defenceman Hunter Mayo fired a shot past Tigers goaltender Evan May.
Friday night’s game was Mayo’s first game back since he was sent home from Los Angeles Kings training camp.
The Tigers then went on the attack scoring seven minutes in off the stick of Shane Smith followed by another tally five minutes later from Tomas Mrsic to lead 2-1.
In between those goals Rebels goaltender Kyle Kelsey made a fantastic save to keep the Rebels in it. After the puck redirected off a skate it tricked through the crease and on the goal line before Kelsey reached back and grabbed it with his glove.
In the second period, the Tigers extended their when forward Cayden Lindstrom provided the insurance goal.
At the 13:14 mark of the third period, defenceman Mats Lindgren brought Red Deer back within one on the powerplay. For his first of the season since returning from Buffalo Sabres camp, Lindgren fired in a shot from the point.
Despite the push from Red Deer, Medicine Hat reclaimed their two-goal lead with just over five minutes left. Lidstrom notched his second of the game when he tucked the puck in through a sprawled-out Kyle Kelsey.
The Rebels pulled their goalie for the extra attacker but couldn’t buy a goal late in the period.
Red Deer will now prepare to host back-to-back home games next weekend against the Prince Albert Raiders on Friday, Oct. 6 and the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Peavey Mart Centrium. Both will begin at 7 p.m.