July 24th, 2024

Tigers enter Saskatchewan road trip off loss

By JAMES TUBB on March 8, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Tigers forward Oasiz Wiesblatt calls for a pass from captain Tyler MacKenzie in the third period of a 6-3 win Tuesday night at Co-op Place over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

The Medicine Hat Tigers will turn to a two-game road trip for some much needed points.

The Tigers are in Saskatchewan for two games this weekend, facing the Saskatoon Blades tonight and the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday to cap off their stretch of six games in nine days.

They head into the weekend off a 5-1 loss Wednesday at Lethbridge to the Hurricanes. Associate coach Joe Frazer says they gave the Hurricanes too many opportunities on the rush to be successful.

“Whether that be from our o-zone rotation, our F3 not staying above and they caught us twice in the neutral zone on a transition play,” Frazer said. “Unfortunate, but I thought we had some great chances to start the game, had a breakaway and we had some had some really good looks later on that just didn’t go in.”

Jordan Switzer started the game for his first WHL start, coming off his first WHL win in relief on Mar. 1 in a 7-4 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings. Switzer allowed three goals on seven shots before Zach Zahara took over and made 25 saves in just over 43 minutes of action.

Frazer says they wanted to give Zahara a game of rest in the middle of the busy stretch with Ethan McCallum out week to week. He says they didn’t help Switzer with the amount of rush opportunities allowed and he says the 17-year-old will rebound from the start.

“Jordan was so good against Edmonton coming in., he’s a great goalie, he’ll bounce back from that,” Frazer said.

In that six-game busy stretch, the Tigers are 2-2.

Heading into the weekend the Tigers remain in first place of the Central division with 77 points, three points ahead of the Swift Current Broncos who still have two games in hand. Facing a Saskatoon team who had lost three in a row before a 4-0 win Mar. 2 over Brandon, Frazer says it’s an exciting challenge.

“We know they’re a great, great team and a really good team at home so it’s going to be a great test for us,” Frazer said. “We just got to get back to playing playoff hockey, respecting the blue lines, getting our half ice game going and just being relentless.”

The Tigers have picked up two points in three previous matchups with the Blades, nabbing one in a 3-2 OT loss on Sept. 30 and a 4-3 OT loss on Feb. 17, both games at Co-op Place. They’ve picked up three points in three games against Prince Albert, with a 6-2 win on Dec. 2 and a shootout loss on Feb. 16. They’ve yet to win in either Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre or the Art Hauser Centre in P.A.

“(Prince Albert) is playing great, especially at home, it’s a tough building-the Art Hauser-to go into, they play great there,” Frazer said. “They have a really good forecheck, they come at you hard and they’ve been on a roll lately, so it’s going to be great test this weekend.”

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