By Ryan McCracken on October 21, 2016.
The Medicine Hat Tigers will be riding high all the way to Cranbrook tonight to take on the Kootenay Ice in a rematch of Wednesday’s 10-3 victory at the Canalta Centre, but John Dahlstrom says they’ll still have to be better this time around.
The Chicago Blackhawks prospect says Medicine Hat seemed to fall into complacency late in the game, which allowed the Ice to strike for three late goals on odd-man rushes. Given Kootenay’s immediate chance for redemption, Dahlstrom knows they’ll have to tighten up.
“I just think we have to play the whole game,” said Dahlstrom, who had four points in the win. “We played 50 minutes good and then in the last 10 minutes we were slacking off a little bit. We need to play the whole game.”
While the Tigers improved to a three-point lead for first in the WHL’s Central Division at 7-3-1-0, Kootenay took advantage of that slacking off after Medicine Hat had racked up a 9-0 lead early in the third period. Ice leading scorer Zak Zborosky capitalized on a turnover to beat Nick Schneider, then Dylan Stewart and Max Patterson both cashed in less than a minute apart to give the struggling 1-6-3-1 Ice something to work with before boarding the bus.
While the finish was less than ideal, the night came with plenty of firsts, from Dahlstrom’s first WHL hat trick, to captain Clayton Kirichenko’s first goal of the year and the first of Gary Haden’s career.
“It’s a monkey off my back,” said Kirichenko of his shot from the high circle in Wednesday’s first period. “I wasn’t stressing about it but it’s always a nice feeling, especially to see other guys get the first of their careers.”
Haden added the fervently paced night had him aching for the goal, and while he finally managed to pot his first and join the scoring party he’ll like be saving a more exuberant celebration for goal No. 2.
“I wanted to celebrate a little more but we were up 9-1,” he said. “If it was the first goal of the game.”
The Tigers return to the Canalta Centre Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for Pink in the Rink night against the Eastern Conference leading Regina Pats (7-0-3-0), Haden’s former franchise. Haden was picked up alongside graduated forward Brian Williams in the deadline deal that sent former Tigers captain Cole Sanford to the Pats, and Haden says he believes the circumstances of the transaction paved the way to a stronger player.
“I got traded and was in the lineup (as an affiliate with Medicine Hat) like three days later so I loved it,” said Haden. “They showed they were interested in me so that really got me excited for the future. I worked hard this off-season knowing if I came in good shape I feel I can play my game and I know they like the way I play.”
While the 17-year-old Airdrie native never officially played a game with the Pats, he says he still feels the need to show up big in his first chance at showing off what they traded away.
“You’ve got a bit of a chip on your shoulder going in for sure,” he said.