Whether it was the luck of the Irish or just a determined hockey team, the Hitmen punched their ticket to the post-season with a 6-1 decisive win over the Kootenay ICE on St. Patrick’s Day.
Beck Malenstyn recorded his first career WHL hat trick and extended his goal streak to five games, while Jake Kryski, Tyler Mrkonjic and Matteo Gennaro added singles for Calgary.
Cody Porter made 19 saves for the win.
Max Patterson was the lone found the back of the net for Kootenay.
Payton Lee stopped 32 shots in the loss.
The goaltenders were the stars in the first period, stopping everything that came their way, with the Hitmen outshooting the ICE 10-6 in the opening frame.
The second period was a whole new game.
The Hitmen were relentless with three goals on four shots, only 1:48 apart from each other.
Kryski put the Hitmen on the board first with help from Jakob Stukel and Gennaro at 4:16.
Less than a minute later, Mrkonjic gave Calgary a 2-0 lead on a rebound from Micheal Zipp and Kryski.
One minute and four seconds later, Malenstyn scored his 30th of the year. Jake Bean and Andrei Grishakov were credited with the assists.
Kootenay answered the Calgary blitz with a powerplay goal by Patterson, assisted by Colton Kroeker, Vince Loschiavo.
The Hitmen lead the shot tally 25-13 heading into the final stanza.
With a playoff berth in reach, Calgary continued their assault into the third period.
Malenstyn netted his second of the game at 3:59, from Jake Bean and Brady Reagan on a backhand shot.
On the powerplay, Gennaro scored his 43rd of the year from Bean at 5:15.
While shorthanded, Malenstyn delivered the final blow and completed his first career hat trick at 11:59 on a breakaway fake on Lee.
With the win, the Hitmen have a date with the Regina Pats for the first round of the WHL playoffs. Tickets will go on sale Monday at noon for games three and four at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
But first, the Hitmen will be back on the ice tomorrow night in Calgary to close out the regular season against the Kootenay ICE at 7 p.m. The pre-game ceremony will feature the year-end player awards and in game, one lucky fan will walk away with an all-inclusive trip to Mexico courtesy of Vision Travel.