By James Tubb on December 8, 2023.
The Medicine Hat Tigers opened the weekend on a high note.
The Tiger put up an eight spot, beating the Edmonton Oil Kings 8-2 in the first game of their home-and-home weekend series. Medicine Hat came into the night off a week of practice, their last contest a 6-2 win over the Prince Albert Raiders on Dec. 2.
Head coach Willie Desjardins like his team’s start and their response throughout the night.
“The last couple of times we played these guys we haven’t started as well,” Desjardins said. “They came back and I thought we responded again a little bit where we knew we had to have a good third period and I thought we did.”
Medicine Hat was led by the line of Oasiz Wiesblatt, Tomas Mrsic and Hayden Harsanyi who combined for three goals and five assists. Mrsic, who had three assists on the night, says they just played simple.
“Just get on the forecheck, turn pucks over and just some nice plays there,” Mrsic said. “We also have a great team sothat just helps us become even better.”
The Tigers opened the scoring in rapid succession.
Andrew Basha got the puck while behind the Edmonton defenders and slipped it five hole to put Medicine Hat up after 7:27 with his 14th of the year.
Just 15 seconds later, Harsanyi and Wiesblatt had a mini rush with Harsanyi knocking home a slot pass from Wiesblatt. Mrsic had the second assist on Harsanyi’s fourth of the season.
After leading 2-0 through 20 minutes, the Tigers scored 2:02 into the middle stanza. Mrsic deked his way through the slot and with all of the attention on him, slid the puck to Wiesblatt at the side of the net for a tap-in. Mrsic says he was planning to shoot the whole way before seeing Wiesblatt open at the side of the net.
The duo capitalized again at the 10:44 mark. Wiesblatt picked up the puck in the Edmonton end on a turnover, him and Mrsic passed the puck back and forth while defenders scrambled. Wiesblatt finished off the tic-tac-toe for his second of the night and ninth on the season.
The 19-year-old says the win sets the tone for the weekend and credits their week of practice for the jump and offence they had.
“We had a really good week of practice, five days of straight practicing and getting ready for these two games,” Wiesblatt said. “I thought all week we were buzzing and hard work pays off, but we have to keep going.”
Medicine Hat scored again in the second. Josh Van Mulligen fired a puck from the point that bounced off Shane Smith and into the net. The Cessford product only had to celebrate his 14th of the season, Andresen had the second assist.
The Oilers Kings got on the scoreboard 12 seconds later. Vojtech Port carried the puck into the Medicine Hat end and fired a shot from the point that floated past Medicine Hat starter Ethan McCallum. The 17-year-old net minder says he let the five goal lead get him too excited and made a misplay, something he looks to work on.
“The whole big key to my game is calm, letting the puck come to me and just there, I tried to attack the puck and got way too excited. I just fumbled it and didn’t see it,” McCallum said. “So I just need to work on staying calm.”
Edmonton scored again late in the frame, capitalizing on a 5-on-3 power play. Just as the Tigers first penalty expired, a shot bounce through the crease before Marshall Finnie jammed it in to make it a 5-2 game through 40 minutes.
Medicine Hat got back on the board in the third, scoring three unanswered goals. Cayden Lindstrom knocked in a pass from Harsanyi 5:56 into the final frame for his team-leading 23rd goal on the season. Bogdans Hodass had the second assist.
Smith got on the board for the second time on the night, rifling a puck from a sharp angle in the corner for his 15th of the season. Gavin McKenna had the lone assist. The final goal of the night came at the 10:20 mark, while shorthanded.
Hunter St. Martin got the puck out of his own end and got on his horses for a breakaway, scoring with a backhand shot for his seventh goal on the year, second while shorthanded. Van Mulligen had the only assist as Medicine Hat held on for the 8-2 win.
McCallum made 19 saves for the win, his second victory of the season. Across the ice from him, Beckett Langkow made 30 saves in his first start as an Oil King since signing with the club on Tuesday.
The Tigers (18-8-2) are back in action Saturday when they head to Edmonton for a rematch with the Oil Kings. Desjardins says it will be a difficult turnaround for both teams and everyone will have to be good if they want a four point weekend.
“It’s tough to come off that bus but we need everybody,” Desjardins said. “Everybody is good, our defence we have those three 20-year-olds in there and they’re pretty darn good players. So it settles it down for us, but we’re gonna have to work.”