Tigers’ Wiesblatt reflects on Art Hauser Centre memories

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Oasiz Wiesblatt of the Medicine Hat Tigers warms up prior to Saturday night's game at the Art Hauser Centre.

The Wiesblatt family has plenty of memories in Prince Albert.

Ozzy Wiesblatt was only 16 years old when the Prince Albert Raiders captured the 2019 WHL title in an epic seven game series against the Vancouver Giants.

Ozzy has since moved onto professional hockey with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda, but his youngest brother Oasiz is hoping to match his brother by winning a WHL championship with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Oasiz is the youngest of four brothers in the Wiesblatt family. Ozzy (Prince Albert) and Orca (Calgary) played in the WHL while oldest brother Ocean played four seasons in the junior ‘A’ ranks split between the AJHL, BCHL and MJHL.

Oasiz Wiesblatt was drafted 12th overall by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2019 WHL Prospects Draft and has posted 160 points in 202 games in the orange and black.

Wiesblatt says having three older brothers helped push him both on and off the ice growing up.

“They taught me everything. It’s a very competitive family, as you guys probably have heard. A super competitive family, a really tight family as well.”

After the 2020-21 season was pushed into divisional bubbles due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oasiz never got to play against Ozzy until the 2021-22 campaign.

The Wiesblatt brothers played a pair of games against each other at the Art Hauser Centre during that season. Both brothers recorded a point for their respective teams on October 16, 2021 as the Tigers defeated the Raiders 3-2 in a shootout.

Oasiz recorded his only career WHL hat trick to date in Prince Albert on January 22, 2022 as the Tigers defeated the Raiders 6-4.

“He was hurt and I got a hat-trick and he was watching.” Oasiz said about that game. “I’ve been to this building a few times watching him back in the playoffs in 2019. It was a super cool atmosphere. It’s a really cool rink to play in. I’ve always enjoyed coming to PA and seeing the fans. I remember them from four years ago, just watching with my brother. These fans are pretty unreal and that’s a cool rink to be part of.”

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the Medicine Hat Tigers in Wiesblatt’s WHL career. During his first full season in the WHL as a 17-year-old in the 2021-22 season, the Tigers only posted an 11-53-3-1 record, the worst in the league.

Last season, the Tigers qualified for the postseason, finishing eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 30-29-8-1 record. Medicine Hat was eliminated in four games by the Winnipeg ICE in the first round. Medicine Hat currently holds the top spot in the Central Division with a 29-16-3-1 record at the time of publishing.

Wiesblatt was the latest addition to the Tigers leadership group for the 2023-24 campaign, serving as one of the team’s three alternate captains. Defenceman Rhett Parsons and Dru Krebs are the other two alternate captains. Tyler MacKenzie serves as the Tiger captain.

Tigers associate coach Joe Frazer says Wiesblatt has led by example for the team all season long.

“I think if you look at our leadership group, all those guys went through that tough year. Oasiz being one of them, I think it just made us resilient, made us tougher. We never want to have to do that again. Oasiz is a huge leader in that regard. He’s usually one of our hardest workers, most competitive guys every game (and) he leads by example.”

Wiesblatt has recorded a new career high point total in every season since he first cracked the WHL ranks. In 47 games this season, Wiesblatt has recorded 20 goals and 46 assists with nine of his goals being game winners.

Wiesblatt has often skated alongside Tigers standout rookie and former first overall pick Gavin McKenna this season. McKenna just turned 16 back on December 20 and sits second in WHL rookie scoring with 65 points in 43 games, trailing only Prince George’s Terik Parascak.

Frazer says Wiesblatt and McKenna have performed well alongside each other since being penciled in on the same line just after the holiday break.

“I think they’ve developed a nice chemistry. Ever since they got put together, they both seem to have really taken off—both highly skilled, creative. When you watch them out there, they know where each other are, so their chemistry is building. I just think we have two guys with the skill set, but also the creativity that those two have, that can make different plays and they’re really finding each other, so they’ve been excellent.”

Prior to the season, Wiesblatt earned an invitation to main training camp with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets after impressing at the team’s development camp in the summertime.

Frazer says the opportunity will be key for Oasiz getting opportunities in professional hockey moving forward.

“I think it’s so important because you don’t know until you get there what exactly it’s all about. They’ll say you don’t know what you don’t know, and so now that you got to go there, you’ll see the NHL guys and how they prepare and what they do off the ice. I think it’s an eye-opener for everybody, but now he knows what they do and he can bring that experience back and help our younger guys but it’s just a great experience for him.”

Wiesblatt and the Tigers make one final regular season visit to the Art Hauser Centre on March 9.