January 22nd, 2022

Tigers back in action after COVID-19 pause

By JAMES TUBB on January 12, 2022.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

After a few days on pause, the Medicine Hat Tigers are back in action.

The Tigers were cleared to resume team activities Monday after being put on pause by the WHL alongside 13 other teams on Friday.

Tigers assistant coach Josh Maser says the staff and players are excited to be back in action. He says it’s not hard to get the guys going ahead of tonight’s 7 p.m. game against the Brandon Wheat King at Co-op Place.

“They’re junior hockey players, it’s not hard to get them going,” Maser said. “They’re motivated to be here after the break and time off. Some hard practices to get them going again, for sure, but they are ready to go and really excited. It’s really good to see how happy they were to come back to the rink.”

The orange and black had their pause lift only two days before tonight’s battle against Brandon.

The Wheat Kings have yet to play in the new year due to their home games being postponed because of Manitoba’s public health restrictions. Maser says despite the Brandon’s last game coming Dec. 30, the Tigers will have to be ready from puck drop.

“Brandon’s a good team, they have a really good top line. We’re going to have to be ready for them,” Maser said. “We’re going to have to be ready to go right off the get-go. I don’t think them being off really makes much of a difference. They’re a junior hockey club, so they’re going to be ready to go and we’re going to have to be ready to go.”

Maser said the Tigers looked good in their practice Tuesday as they looked to shake the rust of playing three games over 24 days.

“It’s a challenge for sure, every team is dealing with that right now. Our practice today we were really good, we were crisp,” Maser said. “We were a little rusty yesterday which is to be expected but today we are ready to go and hopefully we can do some good things tomorrow.”

Tigers goaltending consultant Matt Wong says even though he was separated from netminders Garin Bjorklund and Beckett Langkow, they still found ways to be busy during the pause.

“Whether it’s some stretching, some hand-eye, stuff at home,” Wong said. “I think some time off is good too. Just gives a mental reset and then having a good practice today and getting ready to go tomorrow.”

Wong says he and the two goaltenders approached the practices back from the pause as they would any other and stuck to their routines.

The Tigers last played on Jan. 2, a 4-2 road loss to the Calgary Hitmen. They’ll look to pick up their first win of the calendar year tonight against the Wheat Kings.

Puck drops at Co-op Place at 7 p.m.

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