April 23rd, 2024

Harsanyi continues to build in rookie season

By James Tubb on March 21, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Medicine Hat Tigers forward Hayden Harsanyi admires his backhand game winning goal in the third period of a 4-2 win Saturday at Co-op Place over the Swift Current Broncos.


Hayden Harsanyi’s rookie season has had some ups and downs he’s had to work through.

The 17-year-old started on a fourth line and has gone up and down through the lineup, was held off the scoresheet for the first 15 games of the season and was a surprise exclusion from Hockey Canada’s

U17 rosters.

He’s started finding the back of the net more, and through injury and earned responsibility has worked his way up the lineup and is tasked with more special teams time. Harsanyi says the first two months of the season were difficult for him mentally, having always played near family in Calgary, but he’s settled in and feels more comfortable than ever.

“Just being away from home, I didn’t have the start I wanted but now that I’ve just put in the work and kept doing the little things, it’s starting to pay off,” Harsanyi said. “It’s special, especially, to start having those go in.”

Harsanyi heads into the final weekend of the WHL season with 12 goals and 28 points in 66 games. He’s one of seven Tigers who have appeared in every game this season, with fellow rookie Kadon McCann also a staple in the lineup, something he takes pride in.

“It’s been lots of ups and downs, lots of highs and lows and especially this year as a 16-year-old, it’s just about figuring out what what you need to do to be successful,” Harsanyi said. “I’ve learned that a lot over the span of the year and I think it’s just doing the little things, the workouts, shooting pucks, that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned.”

With the continued shorthanded lineups the Tigers have had in the second half of the season as injuries have played their hand, Harsanyi’s become one of the first couple of players over the boards to kill a penalty and has been on their second power play for even longer. That extra responsibility and time on the ice comes from his ability away from the puck, associate coach Joe Frazer says.

“When you watch him without the puck, he never cheats for offence, he’s always above, he’s very aware defensively and that’s hard to find in younger players,” Harsanyi said. “Most of them are high offensive guys growing up, but with him he’s got the offence and he also has that awareness defensively, which is nice. He’s been great at centre since moving there because he is so responsible without the puck and knowing the structure.”

It’s a trust between himself and the Tigers’ coaching staff that Harsanyi says has been hard work, coming in as a rookie, but an effort he says has to continue as he gets older.

“That first year you have to just keep building that trust throughout the year and I think that was the biggest thing, and now they’re starting to trust me and, you know, have more faith in me,” Harsanyi said. “I just have to keep proving myself and keep proving what I can do out there.”

It’s a trust that goes through the lineup as well and showcased itself on his game winner in Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos at Co-op Place. Harsanyi took a chip-out pass from 20-yearold defenceman Dru Krebs and burned his way down the ice before scoring a nifty, backhand goal over net minder

Reid Dyck’s shoulder for the lead and eventual win.

Harsanyi says the Swift Current defenceman was caught flat footed and he knew he could skate past him going as fast as he could. Picking his moment in a 2-2 game, playing with a shorthanded lineup against a loaded-up team like the Broncos, came down to belief in himself and the team.

“That’s kind of just part of the trust factor, I trusted Krebs that he was going to get that puck to me,” Harsanyi said. “That’s what our team is so special at, we have trust for each other and we’re one team. I just trusted that he would get that puck to me and it worked out.”

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