The Medicine Hat Tigers were in need of a win and were willing to go to great lengths in their desperate attempt.
That gave Stuart Skinner an attempt at a rare feat – and he cashed in.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes goaltender scored his first WHL goal in the dying minutes of a 9-3 win on Friday night. He also made 38 saves to hand the Tigers a pivotal loss. Medicine Hat stayed two points back of the idle Edmonton Oil Kings for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Skinner helped give the Hurricanes a 6-3 advantage when the Tigers coach Shaun Clouston pulled goaltender Nick Schneider despite the lopsided score. Center Colton Kroeker netted an empty netter at 15:33 of the third period.
Barely a minute later, with Schneider pulled again, Tigers defenseman David Quenneville dumped the puck along the boards and into the Hurricanes end. Skinner stopped the puck, settled it down and lobbed it into the net at the far end of the ice at 16:37.
Skinner became the seventh goalie in league history to be credited with a goal, according to veteran WHL writer Gregg Drinnan of thecoachessite.com. Drinnan also notes Skinner is first to do so since Ottawa Senators prospect Chris Driedger – then of the Calgary Hitmen – on Feb. 1, 2014.
Friday’s win also clinched the Central Division crown for the Hurricanes, who previously secured their first playoff berth since 2009. Skinner has been a key part of their resurgence. The 17-year-old is tied for fourth in the WHL with a .920 save percentage and sixth with 27 wins, entering action Saturday.
The 6-foot-4, 197-pound netminder isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2017, when he projects to be one of the top goaltending prospects available.