Calgary, AB – A Brady Brassart goal in the third period stood as the game-winner as the Calgary Hitmen held off the Vancouver Giants 5-4 to sweep their three-game home stand.
Calgary’s record improves to 27-10-1-3 as they move to within one point of the Edmonton Oil Kings for first place in the Eastern Conference. Playing their third game in as many nights, Vancouver falls short and drops to 11-30-0-0.
“I thought our guys were fairly resilient, they found a way to comeback,” explained head coach Mike Williamson. “They seemed to get those key goals in key chances but I thought Mack Shields played well.”
“This win is huge for us, whenever we play them it’s a hard-nosed game,” discussed Chase Clayton who had two assists in the win. “We came out; there were areas that we struggled tonight but it matters that were finding a way to win.”
Even with Calgary holding a 13-6 shot advantage in the opening stanza, it was the Giants who tallied the game’s first goal. After a near-miss by the Hitmen at the opposite end of the rink, Riley Kieser tipped in a Tyler Morrison wrist shot for his fifth of the season at 1:34.
The potent Hitmen attack, which had netted 13 goals over the first two game of their home stand, tied the game midway through the first. Zane Jones drove to the net from the right side and buried his 14th of the year jamming the puck past the pad of goaltender Payton Lee.
After a pair of penalties to Calgary, Vancouver connected to regain the lead at 14:51. Calgary Flames’ prospect Brett Kulak’s attempt from the blue line found its way to the back of the goal as forward Cain Franson got a piece of the puck and received credit for his 15th of the campaign.
In the second period the Hitmen continued to out-chance the Giants and knotted the score at 6:30 while on a man advantage. Spencer Humphries shot was stopped on a kick save by Lee, but on the rebound PavloPadakin notched his 13th goal of the season and fourth in three matches.
At 9:58, another rebound popped out in favor of Calgaryas they took their first lead of the day. Greg Chase picked up his 11th of the campaign as the puck jumped off the pad of Lee, right to the Sherwood Park, AB native for the marker.
Making his second start of the season against Vancouver, Shields stood tall and made a spectacular save late in the second period as he stretched across the crease to rob Franson of his second of the night. The stop helped the home team to maintain their 3-2 after 40 minutes.
The Hitmen established a two-goal lead in the early stages of the third frame as Brady Brassart scored his 12th of the year. Third in team-scoring, Brassart broke into the zone all alone where he was turned away by the Giants’ netminder. On a second-chance opportunity though, Brassart beat Lee to make it a 4-2 game.
The game appeared to be getting away from Vancouver in the third period, however the Giants stormed back to tie the game. Travis McEvoy recorded his first of the year at 6:50 on the power play before Kulak picked up his third point of the evening and eighth goal of the season at 8:41 to bring his side even with the Hitmen at 4-4.
The momentum swung back in Calgary’s court as they pulled back in front at the 10:39 mark. On the power play off an Alex Roach shot, Brassart banged in his second of the game and 13th of the campaign to restore the Hitmen lead.
“I don’t think we got off to the start we wanted,” spoke Brassart. “It took a while for us to find our legs but we had a good third period.”
Holding a 5-4 advantage, Calgary managed to control the majority of play in the ladder half of the third. The Giants pulled Lee in the final minute but were unable to light the lamp as the Hitmen won the McLean Cup as the winner of the second annual East West Shrine Hockey Challenge.
Calgary now heads out on the road for a four-game east division road trip from Jan. 8-12 with contests against Brandon, Moose Jaw, Regina and Swift Current. The club returns to the ‘Dome on Jan. 18 to battle the Prince George Cougars.Tickets for upcoming Hitmen games are available at all Ticketmaster locations as well as the ScotiabankSaddledome box office. Order online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1-855-985-5000. For more information on tickets, including the Sunday Ticket Pack and Name Your Game Flex Package, contact customer service at 403-777-4646.