April 23rd, 2024

Switzer picks up first WHL win in unexpected debut

By JAMES TUBB on March 6, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Tigers prospect goalie Jordan Switzer keeps his eye on the puck to make a save in the first period of the Tigers 7-4 win Friday at Co-op Place over the Edmonton Oil Kings. Switzer came into the game in relief, making his WHL debut and picking up his first WHL win.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

When Jordan Switzer got to Co-op Place on Friday night he wasn’t expecting more beyond sitting on the bench in a ball cap as the Medicine Hat Tigers backup.

After three goals on nine shots allowed on starter Zach Zahara, the 17-year-old found himself in his WHL debut with a 3-1 deficit against the Edmonton Oil Kings. He stopped the first shot he faced, allowed a goal on the second and turned aside the remaining 23 he faced for his first WHL win.

After the game, the affiliate net minder was nothing but smiles as he recounted the surprise appearance.

“I tried to capitalize on the opportunity, you get thrown in and maybe not the optimal position but trying to make the most of it,” Switzer said. “It was a fun night.”

Switzer’s with the Tigers because of an injury, 18-year-old Ethan McCallum out week to week with an upper body ailment suffered last week in practice. He’s spent the majority of the season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme, putting up a 14-1-0 record with a 3.06 GAA.

When he got into the game, Switzer says he went though his normal routine of spraying water up in the air as a reset for himself.

“I just watch one (drop) fall because you focus in your mind and it isn’t focused on the game, it gives you a reset,” Switzer said.

Head coach Willie Desjardins says it was a positive for the young net minder to get into a game and have those results.

“A tough situation for him, it was big coming in and I liked the way he played, those were big points for us,” Desjardins said.

Coming in with the deficit and all the momentum on the other side, Switzer says the focus for himself was just playing his game and not worrying about the eventual result. As the Tigers tied the game up and grabbed a lead in the second, he says the mindset shifted to doing what he had to do to help get the two points.

“You’re not thinking about the win in the first period, you’re kind of getting down to the basics, playing hard and not doing too much out there,” Switzer said.

“You’re just giving it your all out there trying to get the win for the guys.”

The third period featured a 7-4 lead for the Tigers but saw the Oil Kings with multiple breakaway opportunities late in the frame. Switzer turned aside the open opportunities, in what he says were nerve-wracking moments.

“You’re not (used to) playing in this league, with Western League guys coming in on you in a breakaway,” Switzer said. “So you’re just trying to make that one read, see what he is doing and luckily, I got some stops tonight.”

Assistant coach Josh Maser liked the net minder’s confidence and composure in those moments.

“At the end of the game he had to stop those two breakers and that was huge,” Maser said. “You wouldn’t know this is his first game to step in in that situation and shut the door for us. It was really good and I’m really happy for him.”

In the backup role behind Zahara, Switzer’s next appearance is undetermined. But with four games this week for the Tigers, there’s a chance he’ll get in one sooner than later. Until then, Switzer says his first appearance is a building block for what he hopes is sustained success.

“Coming here two years ago, you see what it’s like and you always want to play here,” Switzer said. “It’s always those habits, you have to build the habits in practice and then it leads to opportunities like this where you can kind of capitalize and make the most of the situation.”

Like any milestone, Switzer received the game puck from the winm which he says will be going to his dad as soon as possible. His dad wasn’t able to watch the game as he wasn’t expected to get into the game. But Switzer says he knew the support was there as it always has been.

“He’s kind of been there every step of the way, my family, they’re my biggest supporters,” Switzer said. “It’s really cool to kind of get a win for them. They always believe in you so I’ll give it to them.”

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