July 17th, 2024

Pre-season important for veteran Tigers, too

By Sean Rooney on August 31, 2017.

NEWS PHOTO SEAN ROONEY - Medicine Hat Tigers forward James Hamblin practices at Canalta Centre Wednesday.


This weekend’s opening pre-season games will be about youth for the Medicine Hat Tigers, but make no mistake; they’re an important part of the process for veterans too.

General manager and head coach Shaun Clouston confirmed most of those in the lineup Friday in Lethbridge and Saturday in Taber against the Hurricanes will be trying to make the cut. The remaining spots will be filled by familiar faces.

“It’s a situation where those players we hope will step up, accept more responsibility,” said Clouston prior to Wednesday’s practice at Canalta Centre. “Our leadership this year is very strong, made up of players who spent a lot of time here… so they know how we do things, they know how we play, how we want to conduct ourselves off the ice.”

In mentioning some examples, Clouston noted Mason Shaw, Mark Rassell, Zach Fischer, David Quenneville, Kristians Rubins and James Hamblin. Hamblin, 18, is the youngest of that group and is looking forward to getting into more game situations to scrape off the rust.

“For the most part we’re still getting into the swing of things, trying to get our legs back, trying to get game-ready again,” said Hamblin, who worked out with Quenneville in Edmonton over the summer. “There’s a big difference between off-season and in-game, so with that we’re still getting back to it but it’s starting to feel right again, and it’s fun.”

Hamblin may be young but he’s already in his third season in Medicine Hat. He had 23 goals and 24 assists in 69 regular season games and recently got an invite to Boston Bruins camp, showing his hard work is paying off already.

“It’s not a big secret, you have to put in the work and James, since he’s joined the team has probably put in more work than anybody else,” said Clouston. “That’s not to take away from what some of the other guys have been able to do but he’s shown drastic improvement.”

Part of the reason for that is hard work, but it’s layered with what Clouston describes as a professional-like goal-setting mentality.

Hamblin knows the Tigers lost overagers Chad Butcher (103 points), Steven Owre (88) and Clayton Kirichenko (64) and that guys like him need to set higher individual goals if the team is to succeed.

“I’m definitely going to move up in the lineup a little bit, hopefully play a little bit of a bigger role, get a little more power play time and hopefully put some more pucks in the net,” he said. “We’re losing a lot of firepower up front so hopefully I can contribute a little more.

“We almost need guys like (Ryan) Chyzowski, (Tyler) Preziuso to have those breakout years. If they step up then we’ll be just fine.”

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