Medicine Hat, AB — The Medicine Hat Tigers open their 2018-19 WHL Campaign with a home and home series against the Lethbridge Hurricanes this weekend.
The Tigers boast an 8-4-0-0 record against the Hurricanes during the home opener weekend including a perfect 6-0-0-0 record at home.
This year’s edition of the Orange and Black has 18 returning players including newly minted captain James Hamblin.
“It’s an incredible honour to be able to represent such a historic franchise,” said Hamblin.
Hamblin is a hard working two way forward who leads the Tigers by example and will be hoping for another big year in Orange and Black after reaching career highs in assists (43) and points (64) last season.
Another Tiger looking to play a bigger role on the team this season is Ryan Chyzowski who reached career highs last season with 52 points (21G, 31A) in 72 games played. Chyzowski recently returned to the Tabbies lineup after being invited to Vegas Golden Knight’s rookie tournament and main training camp.
“I want to bring back the life or death intensity that they [the Golden Knights] bring to the rink every single day that drives them to be better than the day before,” said Chyzowski.
Chyzowski will be playing with linemates Ryan Jevne and Tyler Preziuso for the third straight season. All three players are speedy with powerful shots that will look to terrorize the other teams’ defence.
Josh Williams had a breakout tournament this summer while representing Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. The 17-year-old Langley BC product scored 5 goals and picked up an assist in 6 games played. Williams will be looking to build off that performance as he aspires to make an impact on this Tigers’ team.
“I’m really excited to be going into a bigger role this year and I prepared well for it over the summer,” said Williams.
The Tabbies continue to have a hardworking, fast-paced, scoring by committee approach this season and veteran forwards Bryan Lockner, Hayden Ostir, Gary Haden, and Henrik Rybinski will all be expected to have big seasons for the Orange and Black.
Tigers sophomores Elijah Brown, Baxter Anderson and Dawson Heathcote will all be looking to improve their numbers this season.
In the absence of Redcliff native, Dylan MacPherson, who is currently at Springfield Thunderbirds camp, veteran defencemen Dalton Gally, Cole Clayton, Joel Craven and Trevor Longo will be relied on to set the tone. Clayton played 56 games for the Tabbies in his rookie season last year which allowed him to find his stride in the WHL.
“It definitely helped me a lot getting exposed to more playing time last year when guys got hurt,” said Clayton. “It got me ready for this year and stepping into a bigger role with the team where I’m a year older and hopefully going to play a big role for us.”
Recently returned from Ottawa Senators camp, Jordan Hollett is back to mind the net for the Tigers. Hollett impressed the Senators scouts with his progression and will be looking to have a strong season in Medicine Hat.
Currently, rookie goaltenders Mads Sogaard and Garin Bjorklund are tasked with backing up Hollett. Sogaard is the Tigers’ first-round pick from this year’s CHL Import Draft. He hails from Aalborg, Denmark and has played for the Danish national team as well as playing in the North American Hockey League last season for the Austin Bruins. Bjorklund was the Tabbies’ first-round pick in the 2016 Bantam Draft and continues to impress with his ability to read the play.
Despite being a young team, the Medicine Hat Tigers hope to be a contender in the Eastern Conference. Friday, the Tabbies travel to Lethbridge to face the Hurricanes at the Enmax Centre before returning home to host them at the Canalta Centre. The game will start at 7:30 PM Saturday but Skinny’s Smokehouse is hosting the Tailgate Party starting at 5:00 PM in the parking lot.