By Ryan McCracken on October 20, 2020.
After a slow start to Friday’s exhibition opener against the Coaldale Copperheads, the Medicine Hat Cubs started to find their bearings.
While they came up just short Friday in a 5-4 overtime battle, the Cubs clawed back to secure a 6-4 victory on Saturday evening in Coaldale and split the exhibition set against their Highway 3 rivals.
“All in all, I think it was a good start to the year,” said Cubs head coach and general manager Randy Wong, adding three players from Coaldale’s roster are likely bound for the Western Hockey League. “(Carson) Haynes and (Cole) Larocque are both going to Tri-City when they start and they’ve got (Cole) Tisdale in net, who played Saturday for them, that’s probably going to Kelowna. I guess we did pretty good considering they’ve got some guys going to major junior.”
The Cubs found themselves in a 2-0 hole to open Friday’s game, but Jacob Milne started the road back early in the second period, then Connor Miller added one on the power play to cut the gap to 3-2.
Carson Dingwall and Hunter Hankel tacked on in the third to force overtime, but the Copperheads escaped on Mason Sande’s sudden death clincher.
“I think with so many guys, that it’s their first taste of junior B action, certainly you look at growing pains there and getting used to playing against bigger bodies, older guys,” said Wong. “There’s always an adjustment period — I think that adjustment period goes into Game 8-10 probably before guys in their first year start to feel comfortable.”
But it didn’t take long for the Cubs to get the early jitters out of the way, as they rallied to a convincing win in enemy territory Saturday evening. Despite falling into another early deficit, the Cubs dug their way out thanks to power play tallies from Miller, Levi Schlosser and Brayden Anderson, not to mention a three-point performance from Cameron Hall and a third period dagger from Connor Douglas.
“Some of the offensive guys did what I thought they should do. The guys who are more defensive-minded, they worked hard and killed penalties for us,” said Wong. “We started to introduce a little bit of structure with team systems and it will take some time for them to get used to the way we want things to play out.”
Logan Leroux stopped 12-of-14 to open the game, then Peyton Lobe entered and turned away 28-of-30 down the stretch to lock up the win. Ethan Barrows opened the game for Coaldale, allowing four goals on 24 shots, then Tisdale entered and stopped 12-of-14.
Coaldale saw two goals from Jason Creighton in both Friday and Saturday’s games. TJ Johnson and Mike McTighe scored Friday to help pave the way to Sande’s overtime winner, then Brogan Booth and Haynes added goals in Saturday’s loss.