After scoring three goals in a span of 2:59, it looked like the Medicine Hat Tigers had it in the bag.
What a difference one period makes.
The Kootenay Ice lit the goal lamp five times in the final 20 minutes of Game Four on Thursday night to come back and win 7-4, pushing their opponents to the brink of playoff elimination with a 3-1 series lead.
Game Five goes down on Saturday night in Medicine Hat.
“A 3-1 lead, that’s obviously what we wanted,” said Ice forward Luke Philp. “The playoffs, every game is so tight and now the pressure is on them going back into their barn, but we’re going to try our best now to seal it out in their barn and finish it off.”
Jaedon Descheneau posted his second playoff hat trick and Philp had a goal and three assists to lead the Ice to victory. Scoring also came from Sam Reinhart, Zach Franko and Kyle O’Connor.
Medicine Hat, which led 4-2 after 40 minutes, had goals from Chad Labelle, Dylan Bredo, Miles Koules and Curtis Valk.
Mackenzie Skapski started in goal making 14 saves for just over half the game, but got the hook in the second period after giving up three goals in three minutes. Wyatt Hoflin picked the win with 21 stops in 23 minutes of playing time.
Marek Langhamer gave up four goals in 31 shots—three of which came in the third period. He was replaced with Nick Schneider, who surrendered Descheneau’s game-winner and was subsequently benched in favour of the Czech netminder.
Each side had a goal after the first period, but the Tabbies went up 4-1 with 3:52 left in the second frame. The very next shift, Philp went out and scored.
“That was huge,” said Philp. “They had all the momentum, obviously, so that killed a bit of it, going into the third there giving us more belief in making a comeback, so it was a big goal.”
“It’s definitely hard when that happens to you, you deflate a bit,” he said, “but Philper, Pheeser and Cabez went out there and had a big shift for us and got the puck down low and Phil put us back into the game going into the third period.”
Descheneau scored his first on the powerplay in the opening period, but Labelle replied six minutes later to even it up.
The floodgates opened after the halfway mark of the middle frame, with Bredo notching a goal with the man-advantage, followed by efforts from Koules and Valk.
However, Philp answered right back to make it a two-goal deficit for the final 20 minutes of the game.
The Ice got their comeback rolling after the 3rd period media timeout, with Sam Reinhart redirecting a blast from Valiev. Descheneau notched the game-tying marker, banging in a cross-ice feed from Philp in Tigers territory.
That chased Langhamer from the goal and Schneider went in, but that didn’t stop the Descheneau from completing his hat trick on a breakaway, which gave the Ice a 5-4 lead.
All three goals came within 5:38, something that the team knew would come if they stayed patient, said Descheneau.
“When you’re given a chance, make sure you put it in,” he said. “We got our opportunities, Phil made some nice plays, so did Sam and we got lucky enough that they went in and got the win.”
Langhamer went back in and soon headed to the bench for the extra attacker, but Franko skated it in for an empty net goal. O’Connor found another empty cage just before the final buzzer sounded.
NOTES: Game Five is in Medicine Hat on Saturday, but Kootenay will host Game Six should it be required on Monday. Tickets for Game Six—if necessary—will go on sale on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the box office.