By Ryan McCracken on October 20, 2016.
Medicine Hat’s supporting cast stepped up just when the Tigers needed them most.
Despite leading point-getting Chad Butcher serving the second leg of his three-game suspension for a slash on Calgary Hitmen defenceman Jake Bean and top-line centre Steven Owre missing from the lineup due to illness, the Tigers surged to a staggering 10-3 landslide over the Kootenay Ice thanks to some big performances out of the team’s newest recruits.
“I think the whole team played good today. We’re creating a lot of stuff. If we play like this we’re a good team,” said Swedish Tigers forward John Dalstrom, who potted his second, third and fourth goals of the season, an assist and a plus-five rating in Wednesday’s lopsided win. “It’s a really good win to score 10 goals.”
Dahlstrom’s four-point evening shot him up the WHL’s rookie leaderboard, from 11th to fourth with a total of four goals and six helpers. Tigers head coach and general manager Shaun Clouston says it’s great to see the Chicago Blackhawks prospect truly finding his form.
“I think (Mason) Shaw, (Matt) Bradley and Dahlstrom, over the last three games, have really started to find some chemistry,” said Clouston. “John’s shown that he’s real good down low and in tight. He’s got nice hands and had a couple real skill moves on two of his goals.”
But Dahlstrom wasn’t the only new face finding the twine. Tigers rookies Ryan Chyzowski and Gary Haden â€” both of whom had cycled in and out of the lineup prior to the absence of Butcher and Owre â€” potted goals in the win, with Haden collecting the first of his WHL career.
“It feels amazing. I worked so hard my whole hockey career and now it’s finally paying off,” said Haden. “It’s just an amazing feeling, especially after the way the game was going. I was getting chance after chance.”
The emotional impact of his first goal coupled with the physical strain of added ice time left Haden feeling a little queasy when he hit the bench â€” something Clouston says he’ll probably be hearing about from his teammates for years to come.
“He ended up getting sick on the bench there,” said Clouston. “He was working real hard, but I’m sure he will hear about that for a long time.”
As for the familiar characters, captain Clayton Kirichenko notched his first goal of the season late in the opening period and went on to add an assist and a plus-six rating. Shaw took over the team lead for points with five assists.
Only four Tigers were held pointless in Wednesday’s big victory, while seven recorded multi-point games.
Tigers goaltender Nick Schneider collected his sixth win of the season with a 33 save performance to pad Medicine Hat’s Central Division lead at 7-3-1-0 on the year. Zak Zborosky, Dallas Hines and Max Patterson all scored late markers in the third period but it only dented Medicine Hat’s daunting lead.
Ice starter Declan Hobbs was roughed up for eight goals on 38 shots before adding two more on 13 shots against backup Jakob Walter, dropping the ice to 1-6-3-1 on the year.
Clouston added Owre is currently day-to-day with flu symptoms, leaving his status for Friday’s rematch in Cranbrook in question. The Ice and Tigers drop the puck at Western Financial Place Friday at 7:30 p.m.