Raider-Tiger matchup has special meaning for Smith family

Photo by James Tubb/Medicine Hat News Medicine Hat Tigers centreman Shane Smith has been a key piece for the Tigers this season.

Although the Smith brothers don’t compete directly on the ice against each other, the sibling rivalry is very much present when the Prince Albert Raiders take on the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Medicine Hat Tiger centreman Shane Smith, who just turned 19 in January, is the youngest of four siblings. Shane’s oldest brother Doan has been a skills coach with the Raiders for the past three seasons.

When the Tigers visited the Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday night, Shane says it was special to get the opportunity to play in front of his whole family.

“All three of my siblings actually live out here, so it’s nice for them to come see me (and) watch, and I get a chance to perform for them. They’ve all done a major part in my upbringing for my career so far.”

The Smith family is originally from Cessford, Alberta but all the siblings in the family have moved away. Doan and Colten both call Prince Albert home and worked alongside each other on the coaching staff for the Prince Albert Northern Bears of the Saskatchewan Female Under-18 AAA Hockey League this past season. Louise, the eldest of the four siblings, also calls Saskatchewan home.

Doan says the older siblings always helped out Shane growing up, but his youngest brother’s work ethic has led to the success and the heights he has reached today.

“He’s always someone that we’ve helped along the way and I think he’s benefited from having the older siblings and getting to learn from all of us as we go. He’s earned everything he’s taken and everything he’s gotten so far and we’re just always excited when we get to watch him play the game that he loves to play.”

Shane was drafted by the Tigers in the third round of the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft, 51st overall. The pick used to select him was originally held by the Seattle Thunderbirds and dealt to Medicine Hat as part of a January 2019 trade involving Henry Rybinski being sent to the Pacific Northwest.

Shane says he has felt welcomed in Medicine Hat and has enjoyed playing for one of the most storied organizations in the WHL.

“It’s a special organization.” He explains. “Ever since day one, I’ve loved it here and (I’m) just trying to get better every day, whether that’s off the ice on the ice or we’re trying to make the team better. It’s just one step at a time. We got a really awesome group of guys in there, it’s pretty special to compete in this league and we have a bright future.”

Doan recalls the day Shane got drafted to the WHL and says his youngest brother has used his draft position as motivation.

“I remember as the bigger brother in that situation and him as a player, he of course wanted to go higher. We didn’t know, we heard (he would go) anywhere from one to five and he goes in the third, so it’s great to be selected in that (draft) no matter where you go. For him personally, I know he had a chip on his shoulder wanting to prove people wrong and I think that’s the way he’s played his whole life. He’s done a really good job for himself that way.”

The scouts room has been very busy at Co-op Place this season as the Tigers feature several high end players expected to be drafted highly to the NHL in the near future. Cayden Lindstrom and Andrew Basha could hear their names called in the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft at The Sphere in Las Vegas in June. 16-year-old phenom Gavin McKenna is already generating buzz as one of the top available players in the 2026 NHL Draft.

Shane has generated some draft buzz of his own this season having posted 29 goals and 22 assists in 63 games for Medicine Hat, seeing ice time in all situations including the power play and penalty kill. Shane is currently ranked 188th amongst North American skaters according to NHL Central Scouting.

“He lives every day in a world where that team is watched on a daily basis from the NHL and he’s benefited from that.” Doan says. “(He) gets to learn what those guys can do and the skill that they have. He gets to bring his work ethic side of things and they all pick off each other. They’re a good team and they’re going to be really good for the next couple of years. It’s always fun when the Raiders get to play them. I always hope for a win for the green and gold and hope Shane does well”

Doan, 28, may be nearly a decade older than this youngest brother but both siblings share the same intense, competitive nature. The two are always wanting the bragging rights in the season series between their two clubs.

Shane says there are no holds barred in competition in the Smith household, even with him being the youngest sibling by six years.

“We’re a pretty competitive family. Whenever we get a chance to kind of compete against each other, we definitely do it full bore. It’s pretty special to compete at this level with siblings. It’s just kind of bragging rights for the summer. I’m obviously not looking too much into it, but (I) definitely want that edge over him for sure. It’s been awesome so far.”

Even though the Tigers feature a talented coaching staff and Doan works for a rival organization, Shane says he is never afraid to reach out to his oldest brother if he needs advice on or off the ice.

“It’s amazing to have. He’s got a lot of advice for me whenever I need something or something’s not going my way or just another shoulder to lean on. He’s done a lot for me so far and I’m really thankful to have him.”

The Raiders captured the regular season series against the Tigers winning three out of the four meetings, including a 8-3 decision on Saturday. At the time of publishing, the Tigers sit first in the Central Division with a 35-22-5-2 record.