Sometimes it’s hard to give credit, when credit is due, but in this case, the Medicine Hat Tigers do deserve some props.
Facing a 3-1 series deficit, they came back and won the following two outings to tie everything up and force the first Game Seven in the 2014 WHL playoffs.
Needing only one win, the Ice were shellacked 9-2 in Medicine Hat in Game Five before dropping a tight 2-1 decision at home in Game Six.
It’s now or never tonight in Alberta.
Ice forward Jon Martin, who scored the lone goal on Monday night, brushed aside any questions of confidence, after the team suffered back-to-back losses.
“We’re good,” Martin said. “We did a lot of good things in the third period and we talked about that, so we just got to carry that into Game Seven here and we’ll be fine.”
The third period Martin refers to is the final 20 minutes of the 2-1 loss on Monday. The two teams held each other without a shot on goal six minute into the frame, with Kootenay eventually gaining some traction and pressure in Tigers territory.
“It was the best period of the series by us, by far, so I think we just need to carry that momentum into the next Game Seven here, do all the good things we’ve been doing,” added Martin.
The Medicine Hat Arena is a notoriously tough building to play in.
The Tigers had the second best home record in the Eastern Conference in the regular season, and they beat the Ice in all three meetings in Medicine Hat.
Kootenay bucked that trend to open the second round of the playoffs, picking up their first win in Medicine Hat for an early series lead.
“It’s probably one of the toughest rinks to play in and I think we just have to keep it simple and do the little things like we’ve been doing here in the third period,” said Martin.
One key to the game will be the powerplay. After decimating the Hitmen with the man-advantage, Kootenay has scored once in 21 powerplay opportunities in this series with the Tigers.
“I think we need to simplify things, get pucks to the net,” said Ice captain Sam Reinhart. “It’s pretty cliche, but when you’re having troubles, for the most part, it resolves when you’re keeping things simple and we definitely had success, maybe not on the scoresheet, on our powerplay throughout the series, but Game Seven is a perfect opportunity for them to go in for us.”
If Kootenay pulls out the win, they’ll book a spot in the conference championship against the Edmonton Oil Kings.