Following the 6 goal collapse by the Tigers in Game 4, I thought to myself that it would be a very tough game for the Tigers to forget.
Turns out they have a terrible memories....
Game 5 in Medicine Hat Saturday night was a blow-out of epic proportions as the desperate Tigers out-hit, out-played, and generally out-everthing-ed the dis-interested Ice in one of the worst playoff efforts I've seen.
Highlites, should you choose to watch the carnage, are here.
1. Seriously, for those who watched or listened to the game, the Ice actually came out with more jump - for about the first five minutes. It was all Tigers after that.
2. I'm at a loss to explain the effort last night other than perhaps the Tigers finally put together a full 60 minutes. They've been the better team throughout the series in almost all aspects but somehow still find themselves facing elimination.
3. Save for game one, Kootenay's surrendered 30, 39, 40 and 53 shots, being out-shot and out-chanced in the last four games. It's not very often that happens and a team still wins two of the the four games and in a position to win the series.
4. I've said it before, and will again, depth and injuries are a factor now. Kootenay's iced a full line-up once in the playoffs (Game 1 of the Hitmen series) and last night was no different as D Tyler King came back from a knee injury suffered in the above game but D Landon Cross (likely concussion) was out after being hurt in Game four. A fourth line that would eat up more than a shift a game or when things are out of hand would be a godsend right now.
5. It's almost as though Tigers employ a puck-pressure, heavy forecheck game one shift, and then a full-on, clog up the neutral zone trap, the next. Though last night it didn't really matter as the Ice didn't have the puck much anyway. Turnovers have been an Ice-killer all series and the theme didn't change last night. Matt Alfaro's ill-advised turnover in his own end 6:31 into the 2nd period gave Sanford his 2nd of the game, at the exact same time he scored in the 1st period. He'd score two more in the rout. Alfaro didn't see another shift.
6. Though you can't hang it all on Alfaro by any stretch. Rinat Valiev was minus-5 and 5-man blueline crew chased in their own end all night.
7. For three of the 5 games in this series, the Reinhart-Descheneau duo have been held pointless. I counted one shift for the Ice top unit last night after the ten minute mark of the 3rd period. You wonder how much fatigue is setting in for that line, playing as much as they have over the last two months. Mind you, Cox-Valk-Sanford haven't exactly been receiving average minutes. They play as much as the Reinhart line does, or more. And if the Ice don't have an answer for the quick, puck-moving Tigers, there'll be a game seven in the Hat on Wednesday.
8. G Wyatt Hoflin got the start last night and stayed in through the 9 goals. Though to be honest, it would've been double the nine goals if he hadn't played well early on, although he almost scored on himself trying to move the puck around his net in first. I like his puck-moving skills but he almost notched his first goal Saturday.
9. I wondered why not pull Hoflin to spare him the carnage of the play in front of him but you would think it's because Skapski's getting the start Monday.
10. Though the club still faces elimination, it seems the Tigers are now in the driver's seat for this one. The desperation hockey Ice fans have seen sparingly in this one - a full 60 minutes of it - will be key Monday night at WFP if the club wants to avoid going back to the Hat for game seven. It's been over two years since the Tigers have won a game at the former 'Plex, they'll have to break that streak to push the series to seven.
Game Six goes Monday at 7PM.