Former Airdrie Xtreme heading to WHL playoffs with Tigers
In comic books, with great power comes great responsibility.
In the WHL, more responsibility comes along with more playing time, as Airdrie’s Spenser Jensen is finding out in his second season with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Now, with the regular season winding down, Jensen and the Tigers are heading for the post season.
“(The season’s) been good,” Jensen said after a 6-3 loss to the Calgary Hitmen, March 12. “The team’s winning more and making a run for the playoffs. It’s always a big jump in the intensity, so it’s exciting and I’m looking forward to it.
Jensen’s played in all but four of the Tigers’ 70 games so far and has a goal and nine assists, but has grown from a rookie into one of the team’s top four defenceman thanks to his strength and his towering 6’3” frame.
“He’s a really good shut-down defenceman,” said Tigers assistant coach Joey Frazer. “He’s hard to play against, he plays physical and he’s (improved) at one-on-one. If you watch him during the game, he rarely gets beat out of the corners or on the rush.”
Jensen was drafted 14th overall by the Tigers in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft and made his debut with the team last season. He only played 42 games as a rookie, but coming into his sophomore season in September those games were valuable in helping propel Jensen up the Tigers’ depth chart and helping him earn a spot as one of the team’s top four blueliners.
Getting a chance to play top four minutes and being relied on as a key member of the team’s defence core has helped Jensen’s confidence
“As a rookie, you don’t play quite as much as you do as a veteran, so it’s a bit of a jump getting a few more shifts and everyday and adjusting to the pace,” Jensen said. “Once you get a few games under your belt , you become more familiar with the league and the travel, so I feel a lot better this year.”
The first round of the playoffs begin March 21 and the last few games will determine the opening matchups. The Tigers have made the playoffs every year for the past decade and have won two WHL championships in that time span. Last year, the team bowed out in the Eastern Conference semi-finals to the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Whoever it plays in the first round, the Tigers are counting on a game plan that Jensen knows quite well.
“We need to get into some good habits in the last few games here,” he said. “We need to play good defence. There aren’t too may goals scored in playoff hockey, so we need to concentrate on clearing guys out of the front of the net and playing a good defensive game.”