By Woodard, Dale on January 20, 2020.
Medicine Hat News
Some things just come naturally to James Hamblin.
The Medicine Hat Tigers captain scored three unanswered goals in the first period of Saturday’s 6-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes at the Canalta Centre to complete the first natural hat trick of his Western Hockey League career – then he added another for good measure.
“The amount of two-goal games I’ve had, to be able to pot a third was huge, especially at home,” said Hamblin. “Having the week off was big. I tried to use it to the best of my ability and I think this was just a product of that. I’m just making sure I’m rested up and feeling good.”
Hamblin entered the offensive zone right off the opening draw and threaded a rebound from Corson Hopwo behind Hurricanes goaltender Carl Tetachuk to set the pace just 12 seconds into the game.
The Edmonton product repeated the feat less than four minutes later – taking a behind-the-net pass from Lukas Svejkovsky and beating Tetachuk over the blocker for his 25th goal of the campaign.
“That line was really good,” said Tigers’ assistant coach Joe Frazer. “I thought Lukas was really good with the puck tonight.
“Those two, the chemistry is starting to build each night.”
The Hurricanes found some momentum later in the period when Parker Gavlas was nabbed for a pair of minor infractions, but in true Hamblin fashion, the Hat captain completed his natural hatty with a shorthanded breakaway goal.
Tetachuk was replaced by Bryan Thomson to open the second after allowing three goals on 11 shots through the first.
Tigers goaltender Garin Bjorklund kept the ‘Canes at bay with 13 saves through the opening period, but the Highway 3 rivals found their way onto the board midway through the second. After hemming the Tigers into their own end, Calen Addison put a shot on goal and Dylan Cozens tucked in the rebound to make it 3-1.
The pair of Hurricanes are coming off a gold-medal performance with Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship, and were honoured for their efforts on the Canalta Centre’s big screen prior to puck drop – earning a rousing ovation from the 3,078 in attendance.
“Me and Cozens were on the blue line and we said, ‘That’s actually pretty cool,'” said Addison. “To have a rival team honour us in that way, and have the fans and players clapping for us, it’s good. We appreciate it.”
The Hurricanes answered with a goal from Justin Hall then found themselves on a power play halfway through the third, but this time Chyzowski took the puck the other way and scored shorthanded to snuff out any hope for a Lethbridge comeback.
“We definitely have to be harder on them,” said Addison. “They’ve got a lot of speed up front and they feed off our turnovers, so we’ve got to clean up a lot of different areas and be a lot harder on them.”
Bjorklund collected the victory with a 26-save performance, pushing Medicine Hat past Lethbridge for second in the Central Division with a 29-12-1-1 record.
Thomson stopped 20 in relief of Tetachuk. The Hurricanes fell to 26-11-2-5 with the loss.