The Medicine Hat Cubs are feeling pretty good about themselves.
The Jr. B club dispatched the Coaldale Copperheads in four straight games, winning 3-2 on the road Wednesday to secure the second-round series win. Medicine Hat outscored the Copperheads 21-7 over the four games as they advanced to the HJHL’s South finals for the first time since the 2012-’13 season.
Head coach and general manager Randy Wong said looking back on the regular season and how they played in their opening round of playoffs, he feels pretty good about his team.
“When you reflect back and see how the year’s gone, wondering if we were going to make playoffs with such a young team, doing as well as we did in the regular season, getting the chance to play in the playoffs, earning that first-round bye, (I) felt pretty good about ourselves and how we have been playing,” Wong said.
Game four didn’t get started how the Cubs would have wanted as Coaldale took a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes. But they tied it up before the end of the first with two goals from their top line of captain Levi Schlosser, Jacob Milne and Colby Friedrich.
Wong said it was pretty big seeing the leaders of the team show the way throughout the series and in game four.
“I think that’s key for success in playoffs, is that your best players really do have to be your best players,” Wong said. “Typically the older guys are your better players and so there’s some pressure on those guys, and they responded.”
That two-goal deficit was the first time the Cubs trailed all series. Wong said it was important to see how the Cubs shut down the Copperheads after taking a second period lead in game four to secure the win.
“Those are what gets you some success in playoffs because you know the games are closer and they’re tighter defensively,” Wong said. “Sometimes your top goal scorers aren’t your guys that are going to score goals in the playoffs. So you just have to make sure that you do the right things away from the puck.”
The Cubs don’t yet know their next opponent as they await the winner of the Okotoks Bisons and Strathmore Wheatland Kings series. Okotoks, who were the HJHl’s regular season champions, lead the series 3-1 with game five tonight.
Wong said they will work on their defensive game and power play while they wait for the next round. When asked if they change their approach for whichever team they will face, Wong said their focus is on their game and playing their way.
“I think you’ve got to play the game the right way and the way the Cubs play,” Wong said. “Regardless of who we play, you got to be ready. In saying that, you still have to recognize who’s on the ice you’re playing the game.”
He said he was happy with the crowds the Cubs got for their two home games of the series and hopes they can further pack the Kinplex come the South finals.
“We felt we were probably 100 people shy from filling the Kinplex,” Wong said. “We know we can fit more than 100 in but 100 people in the seats would be outstanding to see and I think it’s going to be a great series.