August 11th, 2020

Bubble hockey: Five Tigers alumni on NHL rosters entering post-season

By RYAN MCCRACKEN on July 29, 2020.

Medicine Hat Tigers forward Tyler Ennis celebrates a goal during a 2009 WHL game. -- NEWS FILE PHOTO

The Western Hockey League season may have been cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still five Medicine Hat Tigers alumni competing for the Stanley Cup inside the NHL bubble.

The Edmonton Oilers lead the league with two former Tigers on their active roster in defenceman Kris Russell and centre Tyler Ennis.

Russell helped the Tigers to WHL championships in 2004 and 2007 and sits second on Medicine Hat’s all-time defensive scoring list with 196 points over a 241-game tenure. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound product of Caroline, Alta., recorded nine assists and an even rating over 55 regular season games with the Oilers before COVID hit.

Ennis – who also won the WHL title with Medicine Hat in 2007 – posted 236 points over 245 games in Medicine Hat, including six goals in a 6-2 win over the Prince Albert Raiders in 2009. The 5-foot-9, 161-pound Edmonton product bounced between four other teams before finding a home with the Oilers partway through this season. Ennis posted 16 goals and 21 assists over 70 games between Edmonton and the Ottawa Senators this season.

The Oilers (37-25-9) kick off the playoffs in a best-of-five series against the Chicago Blackhawks (32-30-8), starting with Game 1 on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Over in Toronto, former Tigers centre Tyler Pitlick will continue his push with the Philadelphia Flyers after recording 20 points in the regular season, while former Tabby captain Tyler Lewington cracked the Washington Capitals’ 31-man roster and Dryden Hunt has earned a place with the Florida Panthers.

Pitlick – a 6-foot-2, 200-pound product of Minneapolis – spent 56 games with the Tigers in the 2010-11 season, logging 62 points in the span, before moving into a professional career. Now with his third NHL team, Pitlick will look to help earn his Flyers (41-21-7) a strong position when they kick off the Eastern Conference’s round-robin seeding tournament on Sunday against the Boston Bruins (44-14-12) at 1 p.m.

Lewington – who closed out a 250-game Tiger career back in 2015 with 112 points and a plus-86 rating – spent the bulk of the 2019-20 season with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears, but still took in six games with the Caps. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Edmonton product had 13 points and a plus-17 rating over 43 games in Hershey this season.

Lewington’s Capitals (41-20-8) open their round-robin seeding tournament Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6) at 2 p.m.

Hunt – who joined the Tigers in a blockbuster trade during the team’s final year in The Arena and recorded 36 points in 34 contests – spent 21 games with the Panthers this season, logging four assists in the span. The 6-foot, 193-pound Cranbrook product also played 35 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds this season, where he recorded 13 goals and 16 assists.

Hunt’s Panthers (35-26-8) open the post-season in a best-of-five series with the New York Islanders (35-23-10) on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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