Never corner a wounded animal.
With their backs up against the wall, the Tigers mauled the Kootenay Ice for a 9-2 win in Medicine Hat on Saturday night to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Kootenay still leads the series 3-2, but has another chance to close out the second round on Monday night for Game Six on home ice at Western Financial Place.
The Tabbies led 3-2 after 40 minutes, but everything unravelled in the final period, as Medicine Hat exploded for six goals.
Ice assistant coach Jay Henderson chalked up the frame to mistakes that snowballed.
“A lot of it was mental errors,” said Henderson. “We had a powerplay early in the third, we didn’t capitalize on that, and then we just made some poor decisions after that and the wheel just sort of fell off.
“It wasn’t a good third and it wasn’t what we needed. We got to learn from it, but definitely can’t dwell on it either, so we got to put it behind us and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Cole Sanford led the way with four goals and two assists, while Miles Koules, Curtis Valk, Chad Butcher, Chad Labelle and Trevor Cox found the back of the net. Kootenay had goals from Levi Cable—his second shorthanded goal of the series—while Landon Peel posted the other effort.
Wyatt Hoflin took the loss in goal with 44 saves in 53 shots. Marek Langhamer made 23 stops for the Tigers to pick up the win.
The two teams were tied up after the opening period, with Kootenay scoring from Cable, after the Ice forward stole the puck and beat the Tigers goaltender with a slapshot on the rush.
Five minutes later, Sanford tied it up, beating Hoflin through traffic at the top off the face-off circle.
Peel put the Ice ahead in the second period with a shot from the blue line, but Sanford knotted it back up again, getting a tip on a shot from defenceman Dylan Bredo.
Chad Butcher then scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal with five minutes left in the frame, banging home a feed from Steve Owre from behind the Kootenay net.
With a one-goal deficit, the Ice went into the final period looking for the equalizer that never materialized.
Sanford scored an early powerplay goal, and Koules lit the goal lamp 13 seconds later. Valk and Sanford both added more goals on the board, while Cox posted a shorthanded effort on a breakaway.
Labelle scored Medicine Hat’s second powerplay marker and the final goal with 29 seconds left in the game.
“They’re a good team,” said Henderson. “I don’t think we take anyone lightly. We respect them, they’re a good team, they have some skilled forwards, some skilled D and their goalie’s playing well for them too.
“It’s not a case of taking them lightly—they’re a quality team and a lot of unforced errors was the problem last night.”