June 24th, 2024

Cubs gearing up for playoffs

By JAMES TUBB on February 18, 2023.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Cubs forward Colby Friedrich winds up for a shot in the first period of a 7-3 win over the Mountainview Colts on Feb. 11 at the Kinplex.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

The Medicine Hat Cubs are ready for the real season to begin.

After a 27-8-3 record in the regular season gave the team a bye in the first round of the playoffs, the HJHL club is looking to get what they hope is a long playoff run underway.

“It’s the second season, the one that matters,” head coach and general manager Randy Wong said.

“Things change, the intensity level goes way up, how you play the game changes somewhat and I think your preparation expands. You have to be on point all the time. We talked about how mistakes matter, how turnovers matter. In the regular season you can let those slide a little bit. Now, how you play, how you perform each game – each shift, really can dictate the outcome.”

In the 2021-22 season the Cubs also had a first-round bye and swept the Coaldale Copperheads in the second round before falling in six games against the first-place and eventual champion Okotoks Bisons.

Forward Colby Friedrich says the team is excited for the playoffs and hopefully another chance at the Bisons.

“This year we have a good group, better than last year,” Friedrich said. “We can go deeper into the playoffs this year than last year. Of course we have to get past the second round first, probably Cochrane, but we’re looking forward to that Okotoks’ series and some redemption hopefully.”

The Cubs are slated to face the higher seed of the teams who win in the first round of South division action. The Bisons, who finished first in the league, will get the lower seed. The Cubs will likely face the third seed Cochrane Generals, who are facing the High River Flyers in round one, with the Bisons getting the winner between the Copperheads and Strathmore Wheatland Kings.

The earliest Medicine Hat’s opponent will be decided is Saturday evening but Wong says their first two home games of the best-of-seven semifinals are set for Tuesday and Friday at 8:15 p.m. at the Kinplex.

Captain Levi Schlosser is already looking forward to seeing the Kinplex packed with Cubs’ fans.

“It’s awesome whenever you can get a barn filled with more people,” Schlosser said. “It’s more energetic and it just makes everyone more ready to go and more focused.”

In five games this season against Cochrane, who was in the North division last season and lost to the Bisons in the league finals before joining the South division this year, the Cubs were 2-2-1.

Wong is OK with whomever the Cubs play and is only focused on ensuring they stick to their game.

“We just have to go at whoever and use the tools that we have,” Wong said. “We have to score goals which we’ve done all year with a high scoring team. You can’t fall back and be that the defending team you want to be in playoffs, because that truly wasn’t us, we relied on offence. So let’s push through, fill the nets and make it fun.”

Heading into last year’s playoffs the Cubs had the slogan of, “rebuilt and ready for the playoffs,” as they were coming off no 2020-21 season and had a roster containing mostly rookies. This post season they have embraced the line of, “we believe.”

“You have to be on the same path as a team, you have to believe in your teammates, you have to believe in your line mates, believe in each other and believe in yourself,” Wong said. “You put that all together and if you truly do believe, you’ll do anything for your teammate.

“If you really truly believe in that model and we believe that we’re all in, we’re excited to show it.”

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