By JAMES TUBB on January 14, 2022.
No rest for the Medicine Hat Tigers this weekend.
Coming off their 4-3 overtime win Wednesday night against the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Tabbies have a stretch of three games in three days and four in five including the midweek win.
The Tigers are in Moose Jaw tonight to take on the Warriors before they return home for two contests at Co-op Place. The Lethbridge Hurricanes are in town Saturday night with the Red Deer Rebels coming down for a rare 6 p.m. contest on Sunday.
Pasha Bocharov, who scored his first as Tiger in Wednesday’s win, says the Tigers will have to take the weekend one contest at a time and focus on recovery.
“Take it a game at a time and just focus on the little things in recovery and taking care of all that and that’s all you can really do to prepare,” Bocharov said.
The Tigers entered the week on pause by the Western Hockey League as a result of multiple players and staff being added to the WHL COVID-19 Protocol List. Medicine Hat joined 15 other teams last Friday. The pause was lifted Monday ahead of their contest against the Wheat Kings, their first game since Jan. 2.
Tyler MacKenzie had three assists in the win, including the helper on Owen MacNeil’s game winner in overtime. MacKenzie said after the game he and the Tigers have to focus on their off-ice habits to stay fresh during their busy weekend coming off of the pause.
“I think it’s huge for us to eat well, treat our bodies right after practice, get a good recovery in and then sleeping at night is huge for us,” MacKeznie said. “We need to stay focused and get a good night’s sleep to come prepared.”
Tigers head coach and general manager Willie Desjardins says the Tigers will have to be smart, stay focused and not waste a lot of energy if they want to have success this weekend.
“They’re going to be tough games so we have to make sure we take care of ourselves and make sure we’re ready to battle,” Desjardins said.
He said after Wednesday night’s win – the Tigers seventh on the season – it showed they had been off the ice for a while.
When asked Thursday what the players could change heading into the weekend to be at their top level Desjardins said he thought the Tigers could be quicker in areas, but added it’s hard for some guys to come back after a pause like they had.
“I just think as a group, a lot of it’s when you’ve been gone for a bit it’s conditioning and things like that with time off it’s harder for bigger guys to get going,” Desjardins said. “I think all of us have ways to improve.”
Besides being behind the bench for three games, Desjardins has himself a potentially busy weekend with the WHL’s trade deadline on Monday. He says he’s not looking to do a lot and is pretty happy with his team.
“If someone calls then we’ll deal with it,” Desjardins said. “It’s not that we’re looking, I like our older guys, I like our younger guys, we’ll keep trying to find a way to develop this group and get better with it. I think that’s kind of the key for us and as a team we just want to keep getting better.”
The two Tigers games postponed last weekend due to COVID-19 pauses – Jan. 8 against the Moose Jaw Warriors and Jan. 9 against the Lethbridge Hurricanes – have been rescheduled. The Tigers will host the Warriors on March 20 and the ‘Canes on March 23.
The reschedulings come as the WHL announced Thursday that all 22 clubs have been cleared to return to team activities after last Friday’s pausing of 15 teams.