July 18th, 2024

Tigers look to maintain momentum with holiday break on the horizon

By JAMES TUBB on December 15, 2023.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Tigers forward Cayden Lindstrom loads up a backhanded shot in the first period of the Tigers 8-2 win Dec. 8 at Co-op Place over the Edmonton Oil Kings.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

The Medicine Hat Tigers look to wrap up the unofficial first half of the season on a high note.

The Tigers have two more games on their slate before they break for the WHL’s holiday break that begins Sunday night. They are at Calgary tonight taking on the Hitmen before they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday at Co-op Place.

Medicine Hat comes into the weekend off a 6-2 win Wednesday at Lethbridge. Assistant coach Josh Maser says they stuck to their structure and utilized their speed to wear down the Hurricanes as the game went on.

“We were just sticking to our game plan, they are a good, well structured team so we just got on the forecheck and got inside, I thought we wore them down,” Maser said. “We didn’t deviate from our plan, a lot of maturity as we could have went the other way. We could have started getting selfish but I thought it was a pretty good team game. Everybody believed in each other, we stuck to Tigers hockey and it worked out.”

Wednesday’s win marked the Tigers’ first at the ENMAX Centre since May 2, 2021, a 6-2 victory in the COVID-19-shortened season.

Cayden Lindstrom scored twice Wednesday, raising his team-leading total to 26 goals on the season. He says it is a tough building to play in as the road team and says it gives them a good start for the weekend.

“Obviously we can’t worry about the break too much, we have to still focus on these two games coming up,” Lindstrom said. “It is a good start for the weekend coming up.”

Calgary comes into the weekend off a 3-2 shootout loss Wednesday at home to the Red Deer Rebels. The Hitmen sit in 10th place of the Eastern conference with a record of 11-15-3-1. They took it to the Tigers in their last meeting, beating the Tabbies 7-3 at Co-op Place on Dec. 1.

“We want to get these four points before the Christmas break’s over, so we’ll go by two (points) at a time, and Calgary gave it to us last time so we’ve got to be ready,” Maser said. “They’re a good team and we’ve got to stick to our quick game plan, play the Tiger away. Do what we do, not worry as much about what they do and dictate the game to them.”

While the Tigers look for retribution tonight and to defend home ice on Saturday, they are also looking to head into the break maintaining their gap atop the Central division.

Their first-place record of 20-8-2 has them seven points ahead of the second place Rebels. The Swift Current Broncos are close behind with 33 points and the Hurricanes are in forth of the Central with 32 points, and they host the Regina Pats tonight.

It’s the strong start to the unofficial first half that forward Andrew Basha says they wanted to have, but now can’t let up on.

“We’re really happy with how our first half has been as a whole, so we’re just looking to keep that going and we want to end it right,” Basha said. “It’s just about keeping our game flowing and momentum pumping. It’s not that long of a break so it’s a good idea to get our bodies ready. The second half is longer and more intense. We want to be playing through the end of May so we have a lot of resting to do.”

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