MEDICINE HAT, Alta. - The Medicine Hat Tigers certainly earned some time off.
On Saturday, the Western Hockey League club closed out one of the busiest parts of its schedule by downing the Regina Pats 4-1. The victory concluded a period where the Tigers played 13 games in 23 days.
During that time, the Tigers put together a 9-3-0-1 record, which included an 8-0-0-1 run over their past nine games. They are now off until this coming Saturday, when the host the Brandon Wheat Kings.
"We've been playing great as a team right now," said Tigers star left-winger Tyler Ennis, who had a goal and an assist in the win against the Pats. "We've played a lot of hockey, and it is tiring.
"It just shows just how strong of a group of guys we have right now. We are coming together and just finding ways to win."
The stretch began with a bump as the Tigers dropped a 4-2 decision to the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook on Oct. 31. Before that loss, the Tigers fell 5-2 at home to the Calgary Hitmen on Oct. 25.
The day after the loss to the Ice, Tigers head coach and general manager Willie Desjardins took one of his forward thinking approaches to deal with the setbacks.
"After the Kootenay game, we had a meeting. We had a fun practice, and the boys came together," said Desjardins. "It was like we were pulling in different directions, and we all have to pull together.
"After, we all kind of got on the same page, and we certainly played better."
The day after that meeting and fun practice, the Tigers dropped a tough 2-1 heartbreaker to the Hitmen in Calgary. The loss led up to an impressive 9-1-0-1 run over the next 11 games.
In the conclusion of that run of games on Saturday, the Tigers once again found a way to win. There were adversities like an early 1-0 Regina lead and the ejection of 19-year-old defenceman Mark Isherwood in the second period for arguing with the officials in a scrum. Pats star centre Jordan Eberle also had a third-period penalty shot, which failed.
At the 6:50 mark of the third period, Ennis received the puck from a lucky bounce off the boards in the Regina end and put it in the net to break a 1-1 draw. Teammates Sean Ringrose and Bretton Cameron followed that up with insurance markers.
"For myself, it was tough to generate in the first couple of periods," said Ennis. "There were never really any odd man rushes, so it was kind of frustrating.
"We just tried to keep pressing and just stick to our system. We got a couple of breaks, and it just carried right through."
Pats right-winger Brett Leffler and Tigers Czech left-winger Zdenek Okal traded goals 67 seconds apart from each other in the opening period.
Ryan Holfeld made 24 saves in goal for Medicine Hat (16-7-2-3). Linden Rowat stopped 25 shots for Regina (15-10-1-3).
Pats head coach Dale Derkatch felt his squad left some chances get away on the power play. Regina was 1-for-5 with the man advantage. Despite those chances, he gave the Tigers credit, for what they have done.
"They are good team," said Derkatch. "They are well coached. They have lots of skill. They compete every night.
"They have a small team, but you know what? If you compete and play hard, good things happen. It doesn't matter what you size is, and they showed us that tonight."