November 29th, 2021

Cubs clicking halfway through season

By JAMES TUBB on November 24, 2021.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Cubs defenceman Dylan Trembecki fires the puck on net in Medicine Hat's blowout 21-0 win Sunday against the Kainai Junior Braves.

The Medicine Hat Cubs are on a tear.

Coming off two wins this weekend, a 4-1 victory Saturday against the Mountainview Colts and a blowout 21-0 win against the Kainai Junior Braves on Sunday, the Cubs are on a run. They currently sit in second place of their Heritage Junior Hockey League division and have won eight of their last 10 games.

Cubs head coach Randy Wong says the team’s success has come from players buying into the system put in place.

“They’ve bought in to our systems and that’s a big part of it,” Wong said. “We think we have some good team speed and we have to use what we’ve got. We’re not a big tough team so moving the puck, getting pucks in front and causing some traffic in front is what we have to do, and so far so good.”

Medicine Hat’s record sits at 12-5-1 halfway through the season and the team has only played seven games at home. The success has been almost entirely on the road to start, and as the Cubs have slowly started getting more home games, they’re finding success there as well.

Wong says the stretch of home games they will have in the last half of the season could help them on their playoff run.

“I think that is going to turn out to be a huge bonus for us,” Wong said. “As we can continue to hopefully get the people back in the stands, we’re excited about being here. We love playing at the Kinplex and the Hat here. We’re really looking forward to putting on a second half where we’ve got more games at home, and getting ready for where we will fit into a playoff position and getting set for some playoff hockey.”

A proponent of the Cubs early success has been how close the room has gotten over the first 18 games. Captain Levi Schlosser says it’s a tight group.

“Everyone bought in, everyone was going and lots of goals from everyone there,” Schlosser said. “Everyone is really close in the room, everyone gets along and to have those young guys step up, it’s huge for us.”

The Cubs only have six players on their roster that are not rookies. But, Wong says they have built chemistry quick and said it was on display last weekend after he changed the lines.

“The biggest thing we wanted to do was get some speed on all of the lines and so we moved some guys around and they brought some chemistry today for sure,” Wong added after Sunday’s win. “But really it looks like it was a good move that I think the guys are happy with the changes there.”

Coming off the big win against Kainai, the Cubs have a quick turnaround with three games this weekend.

Friday night they host the Lomond Lakers for a 6:45 p.m. contest at the Kinplex before hitting the road for a rematch against the Junior Braves Saturday night and a battle against the first-place Okotoks Bisons.

Wong says they will use that Okotoks game as a measuring stick for the season since they lost to the Bisons 4-1, on Oct. 15.

“You don’t look forward, but we know what Lomond is about, we know what Kainai is about, we want another shot against Okotoks and see where we are at, another measuring stick if you will,” Wong said.

Wong says after the Kainai win he was happy with how his depth players performed, how the other lines have reacted and how the team has come together.

“I look at my depth and I look at my fourth line and the things they have been able to do in the last six or eight games, they’re playing similar hockey to what our first lines are playing,” Wong said. “It may not be the same speed but they are certainly getting execution done, getting some offensive time, and I think the rest of the guys are seeing that. So now when they go on the ice, there’s a lot of cheering for them and hopefully they get some success… The team is getting tighter and I can feel it in the room.

“I get a good sense of a solid team that wants to play for each other and support one another. That’s what you need to win games.”

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