By Ryan McCracken on February 20, 2017.
Fans anxiously awaiting a glimpse into the future of Medicine Hat Tigers got their first taste onSaturday night at the Canalta Centre.
Fifteen-year-old forward Josh Williams —MedicineHat’s highest bantam draft pick in more than a decade at fifth overall — made his home ice debut in a 7-4 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings, and while he didn’t make the scoresheet, it wasn’t for lack of trying.
“It felt pretty good. I’m happy we got the two points and the crowd was behind us so overall it was a great experience,” said Williams, adding he had two big chances on his first shift of the game. “I got two really good passes from (Mason) Shaw and Bradley and the goalie made two great saves.”
Williams danced around the team’s forward ranks all game long, spending time with nearly every conceivable line combination, and everyone who shared the ice with him seemed to be pretty impressed.
“He’s got some dangles. He had a couple scoring chances which is awesome to see,” said Bradley. “We were trying to get him his first one.”
Tigers head coach and general manager ShaunClouston says there’s “a lot of upside” to the young Langley, B.C. product. From his on-ice talents to his dressing room demeanor.
“He’s an exciting player. He’s a skilled player with nice hands and a nice shot. He’s smart and he’s got a nice frame, he’s going to be a good size,” said Clouston. “He’s a real good person too. He’s engaged, he’s coachable, he listens and pays attentions and understands what’s going on and what’s expected.”
See MUMPS, Page A10
Williams’ presence on the team was prompted by an outbreak of mumps that has now affected as many as five players — Jordan Henderson and John Dahlstrom have confirmed cases of the virus, while Zach Fischer, Ryan Chyzowski and Kristians Rubins have been tested and quarantined — and assistant coach Joe Frazer.
Given the situation, Williams says he understood the importance of just chewing valuable minutes.
“I think it was important, since we were short, just to get out there on the ice and give the guys a rest,” said Williams. “They’re all great players so I think I just tried to fit in where I could and have a good game.”
Clouston added Williams will still be available for Tuesday’s game against the Moose Jaw Warriors at the Canalta Centre, though he hopes Henderson and Dahlstrom could become available in the coming days.
“It’s kind of been day-by-day. They both didn’t feel too bad on Wednesday but they were told to stay away because it looked like mumps. Then on Thursday they felt really bad, so Day 2 was really bad. But they said they started feeling a little better (Friday) and a little better (Saturday) so hopefully it’s moving in the right direction,” said Clouston. “Cam (MacPhee) and Willie are still available through Tuesday at least. Hopefully we can get some help Tuesday but if we don’t we should start getting guys back by Friday.”
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