April 23rd, 2024

Young Tigers stepping up as times get tough

By JAMES TUBB on March 20, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Tigers defenceman Matt Paranych lines up at forward for a face off in the first period of a 4-2 win Saturday at Co-op Place over the Swift Current Broncos.


As the Medicine Hat Tigers’ lineup has taken hit after hit, their youngest players have taken new roles to help find success.

The Tigers playing with a shorthanded lineup has been a common thread in the second half of the season, with the long-term injuries of Brayden Boehm and Cayden Lindstrom and others players out for shorter periods of time depleting their forward core. Defenceman Nate Corbet has stepped up as a forward since the break and another pair of D-men adapted to the role over the weekend.

Jack Kachkowski worked into shifts as a forward in Friday’s 8-4 loss at Swift Current and Matt Paranych played the entirety of the 4-2 win Saturday over the Broncos up front. It’s an act associate coach Joe Frazer described as selflessness and embodies their team-first mentality.

“It shows that everybody’s all in and we all want the same thing and that’s to win a championship, we’ve talked about it all year,” Frazer said. “Guys have stepped up at different parts of the year when guys have been out and it shows how much the guys care about one another, they’re willing to sacrifice some things individually to help the team hit the ultimate goal because we know the more team success we have, the more success everyone else is going to have individually.”

Paranych says the last time he suited up at forward was at the U9 level, seven years ago for the 16-year-old. While it’s the same sport, he says there was a bit of an adjustment in the role and he felt comfortable from his first shift.

“In novice you can go skate through everyone, but not in the Western League, you just have to stick to the structure,” Paranych said. “Whatever the coaches were telling me I tried to implement on the ice as best I could.

“The first shift I got out there and had three hits my first shift. It was comfortable after that, I had two great line mates with Hunter (St. Martin) and Hayden Harsanyi).”

Paranych and Harsanyi have played a lot of hockey together growing up before playing in Medicine Hat. They’ve represented Alberta twice, at the Canada Winter Games and the Brick Invitational, also playing on the Western Canada Selects U12 team. Harsanyi joked that Paranych should stay on defence before complimenting his fellow rookie for stepping up.

“That’s really special to our team and shows how much these guys care, it’s more about the team than individual and he really showed that,” Harsanyi said. “That meant a lot to the guys on the team and really gained a lot of respect out of me and I’m sure every other guy.”

For the Edmonton product, who could have easily said no and stayed on defence, there was no hesitation when asked.

“The lineup was short, we played with eight D and seven forwards, whatever the coaches are telling me I’m going to do and I’ll sacrifice for the team,” Paranych said. “Whatever I have to do to help the team win.”

The Tigers did get some encouragement in the injury department as Lindstrom was out participating in full team practice in a normal coloured jersey. It was a non-contact practice and Frazer says the 17-year-old is still out week to week but he says they were happy to have him out with the group.

“It was exciting to see him on the ice, it gives the guys lots energy to see him practising,” Frazer said.

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