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Hitmen Declaw Tigers

Candice Ward/Photo

Safe to say it was a massive win.

The Hitmen headed into Friday night’s clash against Medicine Hat knowing what was on the line and came out and delivered with a 3-1 triumph.

All in all, it was a statement victory.

“It was a four point game for us,” Mark Kastelic said. “Anytime we play teams in our division it’s always huge points on the line and it felt like a playoff game.

“It was a lot of fun and it was good to set the tone for tomorrow night.”

Kastelic, Egor Zamula and Carson Focht all found the back of the net to propel the Hitmen to victory while Carl Stankowski was sensational in net making 29 saves in a first star performance.

The Tigers saw their lone goal come courtesy of Elijah Brown while Jordan Hollett ended with 27 saves.

After a tough go around in their last game Tuesday night, the Hitmen came out dialed in from the start and shut down the top snipers of the Tigers with their relentless pressure and improved coverage in the defensive zone.

They also got a major boost on the back end with both Zamula and Dakota Krebs returning from injury and making an immediate impact on the game.

“Having those two return on the blueline for us was huge tonight,” head coach Steve Hamilton said. “They haven’t had a lot of practice time but they responded well and responded with an excellent performance and you couldn’t have asked for more for them.

“I think it gave us a little bit of an emotion kick start as well having two key members come back the way they did.”

With the victory, the Hitmen move within four points of Medicine Hat for third in the Central Division as the race continues to be a tight one.

With not a lot of room to breathe from first and fifth in the division things could very well stay that way until the end of the regular-season.

“This is as tight as a division that I can remember in a very long time” Hamilton said. “We are playing in the moment and not worrying about scoreboard watching.

“We had a better approach tonight and I think they recognized that things weren’t right but reset and categorized how good we can be when we stick to our game.”

The Hitmen will now load up and hit the road to Medicine Hat in the back half of a home-and-home set with the opportunity to sweep the mini-series.

And, it’s a perfect chance to further climb up the standings.

“We come to the rink with the same approach every game and doesn’t matter who the opponent is, that never changes for us,” Stankowski said. “We’ll be ready for them tomorrow and know that they will come back hard.

“It’ll be fun to play against them again and look to add another two big points.”

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