By Ryan McCracken on October 1, 2016.
A pair of first career WHL goals paved the way to victory for the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday night at the Canalta Centre.
Latvian defenceman Kristians Rubins and rookie forward Ryan Chyzowski both notched milestone moments to push the Tigers to a second straight victory. Chyzowski was visibly elated following the goal, while teammates scrambled to collect the puck. After the game, the 16-year-old Kamloops native said it was nice to get the big one off his back.
“It’s kind of a relief. In your first year it’s one thing you think of in the back of your head every day so it was a pretty special moment to get the first one,” said Chyzowksi. “I just decided to throw it on net from the goal like and I was lucky enough that it went in.”
Rubins, Medicine Hat’s top import draft pick in the off-season, added his point shot took a lucky bounce in to the back of the net to open the scoring, but he’ll take it and the victory all the same.
“It felt amazing,” said Rubins. “I think we have amazing chemistry here. The guys are really nice to each other, we work hard and keep pushing ourselves.”
The Blades managed to stay within striking distance of the Tigers for the entirety of Friday’s contest, though Medicine Hat largely controlled possession while out-shooting Saskatoon 45-24.
Medicine Hat has surpassed the 40-shot plateau in each of its three first games while holding opponents to 24 or less. Saskatoon goaltender Logan Flodell was a big reason why the score was close.
“It’s frustrating. The young guys didn’t have enough energy, the older guys weren’t pulling our weight as much,” said Blades captain Mason McCarty, who scored Saskatoon’s lone goal of the evening. “Your goalie can’t stop 45 shots and win you a game every night.”
While Saskatoon’s defensive unit did a good job of clogging up the scoring lanes through the first 40 minutes, the Tigers finally beat Flodell for consecutive markers in the final frame. Ryan Jevne finished off a fancy toe drag deke with a hard wrist shot into the cage for his second of the season, then Matt Bradley snuck a rebound over the line three minutes later before Mark Rassell finished off a short-handed breakaway to put the game on ice. Both Bradley and Jevne finished the night with a goal and an assist, while forward Caleb Fantillo added two helpers.
“We stayed the course,” said Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston. “We got a little bit more traffic as it went on and eventually the pressure and our scoring chances turned into goals. It was a solid effort, we had four lines that all contributed.”
In the other crease, Tigers starting goaltender Nick Schneider was strong in his debut turning away 23 pucks to lock up the victory. The 19-year-old Leduc native was called on early, notching his first save of the season on a close-in chance.
Friday also featured the debut of 19-year-old Swedish forward John Dahlstrom. Medicine Hat’s second import draft pick of the summer, behind Rubins, Dahlstrom returned from camp with the Chicago Blackhawks earlier in the week and notched his first WHL assist in Friday’s third period.
The Tigers hit the road to Saskatchewan Saturday to take on the Swift Current Broncos (2-1-0-0) at 7 p.m.