Tigers roar back to knock off Royals in OT

Well, that scratch might just leave a mark.

The Medicine Hat Tigers clawed their way back from a 3-1 deficit to scrape out a 4-3 overtime victory over the visiting Victoria Royals before 3,014 fans at the Canalta Centre on Friday night.

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Linus Nassen deflected in the game-winner at 1:18 of the extra session shortly after Tigers goaltender Michael Bullion stopped slippery Royals forward Matt Phillips as the visitors were forced to skate off with a nasty blemish on this particular night.

Mark Rassell and David Quenneville (on a power play) scored goals 3:16 apart just over the midway mark of the third period as the Tigers roared back on the Royals, who had assumed a 3-1 first-period lead.

Chaz Reddekopp, Tyler Soy and Igor Martynov all scored in the opening 20 minutes, while Gary Haden had replied for the hosts, who outshot the Royals by a whopping 41-20 margin.

Goaltender Griffen Outhouse was much busier on the evening with the 37 saves. Bullion made 12 saves after replacing starter Jordan Hollett, who was injured when he took Martynov’s knee to the head on Victoria’s third goal with just 1:05 remaining in the opening period.

Victoria was forced to kill off three Tigers’ power plays in the third as Medicine Hat finished 1-for-7 with the man advantage. Victoria was 0-for-3.

“We definitely didn’t let it get away,” said Royals head coach Dan Price. “I would say we had to penalty kill for most of the third period. We didn’t convert two or three Grade A chances in the third period and one in overtime where their goalie made a good save on a breakaway.

“By no means did I feel our guys backed off and let them back into it. Having to kill four or five penalties in a row and then those chances not going in — I felt that was the difference.”

Dante Hannoun and Scott Walford each had a pair of assists for the Royals. Tyus Gent, a 16-year-old forward (not defenceman, as reported Thursday) from Delta, got into his second game as he was called up for part of the four-games-in-five-nights road trip, which culminates this evening at 6 Pacific time in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes.

It was the second straight overtime loss for the Royals, who were downed 3-2 on Wednesday in Swift Current after a 7-4 loss in Moose Jaw on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Royals acquired 20-year-old defenceman Kade Jensen from the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.

Jensen, of Calgary, had two goals and three assists to go along with 30 penalty minutes in 25 games with Brandon. Last season, the six-foot-three, 218-pounder registered four goals and 10 assists with 94 PIMS in 73 games split between Swift Current and Brandon.

In 277 career WHL games — split among the Wheat Kings, Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes — Jensen has managed 56 points (17G-39A) and 344 PIMS. He was originally drafted by Lethbridge in Round 5, 103rd overall, in 2012.

Jensen should add some toughness and stability on the back end, said Royals GM Cam Hope.

“He plays a big and mature game, and [he should be] a big help especially with the injuries we’re dealing with,” Hope said. “He’s a big, strong player and one of those guys who can settle a defence down.”

The Royals are allowed to bring in another 20-year-old as Regan Nagy is out long-term with a finger injury. Upon his return, a decision will have to be made on the extra over-age player.

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