RECORD SETTING NIGHT FOR DRIEDGER
Chris Driedger wasn’t the one keeping a close on his stats, but everyone else was.
Heading into Friday night’s game versus the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Hitmen netminder was just 12 saves away from etching himself into the franchise record book for most career saves.
So fans waited patiently.
The Wheat Kings fired five quick shots on Driedger early on, but his defence closed up and shut down the attack.
Finally late in the first period, Wheat Kings forward Richard Nejezchleb tried a snap wraparound and was stoned by Driedger.
His teammate, Greg Chase, went and scooped up the puck – his team knew he had just broken the record previously held by Martin Jones at 3,374.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling,” said Driedger. “It’s not every day that you get a record like that, especially in an organization like the Hitmen who have had many good goalies come through the ranks.
“People started piping up every now and then about it on Twitter, so that’s how I’ve been notified about it. It’s always pretty cool when you can go down in the history books.”
Driedger finished the game with 3,390 career saves, and it will only grow as the Hitmen have 21 games remaining on the schedule.
“It’s a great thing for him,” said head coach Mike Williamson, who had a chance to coach both Driedger and Jones. “I know it means a lot. He’s played a lot of hockey games for us, gave us a chance to win a lot this year so it’s a nice accomplishment.”
As for the game, it turned out to be a successful one for Driedger and the Hitmen as they walked away with a 7-4 win over the Wheat Kings, ending a three-game losing streak.
The Hitmen remain in third place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 34-13-3-3, three points back of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Each period had a specific theme to it.
For example, in the first period – it was all Calgary.
Goals from Brady Brassart, Jake Virtanen and Chase Lang gave the Hitmen a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
However, the lead disappeared in the second period after goals from Eric Roy, Ryley Lindgren, and Quinton Lisoway as the Wheat Kings tied it up.
Greg Chase fired a goal early in the period, and was followed with markers from Adam Tambellini, Connor Rankin and Ben Thomas as the Hitmen exploded for four goals.
Driedger finished the night with 27 saves.
The Hitmen now move onto a five-game road trip starting Saturday night versus the Kootenay Ice.