By Ryan McCracken on March 8, 2018.
Hayden Ostir is making up for lost time.
The 18-year-old Medicine Hat Tigers winger missed 32 games to a hand injury earlier this season, but he’s been thriving on a line with rookies Josh Williams and Henry Rybinski ever since his return on Feb. 27.
“They both work hard and that’s something I want to do too,” said Ostir, who has one goal and four assists alongside Williams and Rybinski in the four games since his return. “I think it’s been good for all of us. It’s working out for us.”
Ostir — acquired in the trade that sent Zach Fischer to the Spokane Chiefs in October —missed nearly three months with the hand injury, but says he never let his work ethic diminish despite being held off the roster.
“I just worked hard every day. Joe Frazer put us through some tough workouts but it was a good time honestly,” said Ostir. “Working hard, that’s all you can do really.”
While Ostir spent the majority his time before the injury on Medicine Hat’s top line alongside Mark Rassell and James Hamblin— where he collected five goals and nine assists in 22 games — the Winnipeg product has been yielding even more impressive results since his return, despite playing on the fourth line.
“He’s been out three months so it was a way to ease him back into the lineup,” Tigers head coach Shaun Clouston said of placing Ostir with Williams and Rybinski. “They’ve been good, they’ve been real good.”
The trio has combined for 11 points in the four games since Ostir’s return, including a pair of game-winning tallies against the Red Deer Rebels Saturday and the Kootenay Ice Sunday. Rybinski, who has a goal and an assist over the last four games, says having Ostir on his line has really opened up the ice for him and Williams.
“He’s an outstanding player, for sure,” said Rybinski. “He’s physical, he moves really good for a big guy and shoots the puck and makes good plays, so it’s been really good.”
With Ostir back in the lineup — as well as defencemen Linus Nassen and Kristians Rubins, who both returned from injury last week as well — Medicine Hat’s injured reserve has been cut to three players, and with any luck all three could be back for at least part of the post-season. Goaltender Jordan Hollett is listed at three weeks away with a knee injury, defenceman Joel Craven could return from a concussion in the next two, and centre Mason Shaw — who tore his ACL in the pre-season — has been practicing with the team and will visit the Minnesota Wild for re-evaluation later this month.
Tigers centre Elijah Brown was absent from Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to the Regina Pats after having a cyst removed from his tailbone earlier in the week. While his status for Friday’s home game against the Edmonton Oil Kings is uncertain, Brown says he’s confident he won’t miss much more time.
“It started to hurt like a week ago then started to flare up,” said Brown. “It sucks, but I think I’ll be back.”
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