October 22nd, 2021

Svejkovsky on a roll to open season

By James Tubb on October 12, 2021.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Lukas Svejkovsky carries the puck into the Oil Kings zone in the first period of the Tigers 3-2 win Saturday night against Edmonton. Svejkovsky has enjoyed a hot start to the year with six goals in three games.

Goals seem to be coming easy for Lukas Svejkovsky.

The 20-year-old Medicine Hat Tigers forward has six goals through his first three games of the season and has been the main provider of offence for the Tigers early in the year. He has six of Medicine Hat’s eight goals through their first four games, where they sit with an 2-2-0-0 record.

Svejkovsky had a hat trick during his team’s road win in Red Deer Friday night. He then opened the scoring Saturday in Medicine Hat against the Oil Kings before notching the shootout winner.

“That felt really good. That was definitely something that was kind of in the back of our minds, losing six straight to(Edmonton) last year,” said Svejkovsky. “Just seeing that goal from (Daniel Baker) at the end there to tie it up, how happy all the guys were. That just shows the character of our team.”

Svejkovsky did not dress for the season opener in Swift Current as Medicine Hat had four over-aged players through their first two games against the Broncos. The Tigers moved defenceman Eric Van Impe to Seattle on Thursday and now have Svejkovsky, Corson Hopwo and Daniel Baker filling their three over-age roster spots.

Entering his fifth season in the Western Hockey League and third with the Tigers, Svejkovsky has quickly become Medicine Hat’s best offensive threat. He leads the league in goals with his six and sits second in points with seven. 

Medicine Hat’s main weapon, Cole Sillinger, is set to begin the season in the NHL with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Whether or not he returns to the orange and black, Svejkovsky seems comfortable being ‘the guy’ up-front for head coach Willie Desjardins. 

Svejkovsky recently returned from his own NHL experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who took him 108th overall in 2020. He says that the experience was, “unreal” and that he learned a lot from the guys there about better preparing themselves for games through stretching and utilizing morning skates. Something he had started doing with the Tigers this season.

Even with the hot start, Svejkovsky says he doesn’t reflect on his success too much and focuses on the games ahead.

“Just don’t get satisfied,” he said. “I’ll enjoy it tonight and then just put it behind me and get ready for the road trip on the weekend.”

Tigers associate coach Joe Frazer says Svejkovsky has been outstanding for Medicine Hat to kick off the campaign.

“It’s not only his skill but his speed and the way he attacks the net, he’s been outstanding,” said Frazer.

Frazer says the Tigers will work on getting the rest of the roster clicking, as well as scoring to supplement Svejkovsky’s offence.

“We definitely need to get some secondary scoring and we’ll keep working on that,” Frazer said. “It’s not like guys don’t want to score, we just have to find ways to get to those dirty areas. When you’re not scoring you’ve got to get in front, get traffic, go for those rebounds and just kind of simplify it.”

With the Tigers bouncing back from their 0-2 season with back-to-back wins ahead of a Saskatchewan road trip, Svejkovsky says he likes the resiliency of this young Tigers team. 

“When you see our third and fourth lines working so hard like that, just playing their game, I think it really shows our depth and the character of those young guys,” he said. “I was happy with the team, really happy with those guys and it was a really good game.” 

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