March 3rd, 2024

Frazer reaches 900 games coached with Tigers

By JAMES TUBB on January 20, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Tigers associate coach Joe Frazer looks at players on the bench in the first period of a 4-1 win on Nov. 11 at Co-op Place over the Wenatchee Wild.

When Joe Frazer arrived in Medicine Hat in 2008 as an 18-year-old, he thought he’d remain for three seasons before moving on. After 900 games and 16 years under his belt, he’s still grateful for his opportunity.

The Medicine Hat Tigers associate coach celebrated his 900th game coached in the Western Hockey League on Tuesday, a 5-2 win over the Swift Current Broncos at Co-op Place. The celebratory game came on a win where Medicine Hat was shorthanded, having only nine natural forwards and eight defenceman.

To pull out a win in that game exemplifies what it means to be a Tiger, according to Frazer.

“We’re not being afraid of adversity, always willing to put your best foot forward, being relentless,” Frazer said. “It doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup or who’s out of the lineup. That’s a good culmination of what it means to be a Tiger.”

Frazer played 132 regular season games at forward with the Tigers, putting up 21 goals 40 points. He added another three goals and five points in 23 playoff games.

One of those games played was in the 2010-11 season right before the Brainerd, Min. product took an assistant coach job with the Tigers, and he has remained behind the bench ever since.

“I love the city, the people here, they’re down to Earth, blue collar, just like back home in Minnesota where I’m from,” Frazer said. “Ever since I’ve come up here, I just fell in love with people here. It’s a tight knit community and I just feel very fortunate to have been here that long.”

He held that assistant coach role for 10 seasons before being named an associate coach alongside head coach Willie Desjardins. Frazer played under Desjardins and now shares the goal of winning a championship and developing players alongside him.

Reflecting on his former player-turned coach reaching the milestone, Desjardins says it’s a special accomplishment and indicative of the type of person Frazer is.

“That’s a lot of time with one organization where you’re that loyal, and Joe is super loyal, throughout the years I can go back to any player, he talks to guys,” Desjardins said. “He talked to Mason Shaw this morning, guys call him all the time, so it’s pretty special the rapport he has with the players and the love he has for the organization.

“He’s been loyal and he’s committed and you talk to any of our guys here, Joe lets them in in the morning, he’s there with him, he’ll do whatever. He’s a pretty special guy to have and one of the reasons the organization’s had such success over the years.”

Andrew Basha has worked with Frazer for more than two seasons, working his way up from a young depth forward to an option on the top power play and a projected first-round pick in the upcoming NHL draft. Basha says he owes a lot of who he is on and off the ice to Frazer.

“I’ll consider Joe for the rest of my life as a vital part to my game and just me as a person,” Basha said. “Everything you see of me on the power plays is because of Joe. He’s really taught me how to become a good power play guy. The countless hours we’ve put in together with the power play and it’s paying off this year.

“He’s such a good person and I love having him here, we always laugh every single day, we laugh a lot. Joe is just such a good person, I’m so happy for him and I’m certainly expecting him to get an opportunity at the next level, he’s just such a good person.”

With 26 regular season games remaining on the schedule for this season and years to go in Medicine Hat still, Frazer will continue to share and be part of the Tigers’ legacy and impact. It’s a tradition and legacy he says he’s lucky to be part of and will forever cherish.

“It goes by fast but we’re extremely lucky to be part of an organization like this, and I’ve gotten to work with a lot of great people,” Frazer said. “I’ve gotten to work with a lot of great players and they make it fun every day, it’s the best job in the world.

“It’s not really a job, you get to come to the rink and help kids strive to achieve their dreams, that’s pretty special.”

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