The Calgary Hitmen skated away with more than a 4-1 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday night, they emerged with a sense of retribution.
“That was in the back of our minds and we weren’t going to let that happen again,” said Cody Sylvester, who was the recipient of the game’s first star. “We came out in the first period with a lot of jump and let off a little in the third but overall I thought we played well.”
With the October 26th 10-1 collapse to the Medicine Hat Tigers etched in the memory of the Hitmen players, the red and black came out firing on all cylinders. Tigers’ Curtis Valk and Hunter Shinkaruk combined for 10 points in the last month’s win; however, both were scratched from Friday’s affair with a suspension and injury, respectively.
“They didn’t quit and that’s why in the third period I thought our guys weren’t as mentally sharp as we needed to be. Medicine Hat obviously worked hard and they got some players outside of those two that created that offence,” said Hitmen bench boss, Mike Williamson.
The loss suffered at Calgary’s hand extends the Tigers losing streak to six games. Meanwhile the Hitmen maintain a four game winning streak.
Calgary upholds the top spot in the Eastern Conference Standings, sitting at a 17-5-1-2 record.
After facing 13 shots in the opening frame, Medicine Hat almost emerged from the period unscathed but Victor Rask played the spoiler with 40 seconds remaining. Now in his fourth game since returning from the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers, Rask collected the puck along the blue line and released a precise wrist shot over the blocker of Marek Langhamer. The tally was the first of the WHL season for the Swedish centreman, who had collected a pair of helpers over his first three contests.
The floodgates opened up for Calgary in the middle stanza. Five minutes in, a powerplay opportunity for Medicine Hat ended with a goal for Calgary as captain, Cody Sylvester, found the back of the mesh for the 15th time this season. Sylvester turned on the jets after defenceman Kenton Helgesen cleared the puck along the sideboards out of the Calgary zone. He broke away from the Tigers in pursuit and hit his glove-side target.
Assessed a man advantage 10 minutes later, Sylvester earned another on the back of a tic-tac-toe passing play off the sticks of Spencer Humphries and Victor Rask. A kick save on the original shot, landed on the stick of the overage forward, who roofed it over the Tigers netminder. The tally furthered Sylvester’s league-leading powerplay goal total, now sitting at nine.
Less than two minutes later, Ukrainian right-winger Pavlo Padakin ended the night of the starting Medicine Hat backstop, after registering his sixth of the year.
The Tigers refused to relent in the third as they poured on the pressure, setting the stage for a comeback by getting on the board thirty seconds in. The Hitmen managed to stand their ground, thwarting the remaining Tigers efforts.
Ottawa Senators draft pick, Chris Driedger continued to stand tall in the cage for the Calgary Hitmen, allowing a single tally over 25 shots. Over his last eight starts, Driedger is 8-0-0-0 with a 1.61 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.
“I’m just trying to play game-by-game and it’s been working lately,” expressed Driedger, passing on the credit to his teammates. “The boys are coming together and we’re nine and one in our past 10 games which is great. It’s pretty easy to have good stats when that’s your team record.”
The Hitmen wrap up November at the Scotiabank Saddledome, hosting the Saskatoon Blades on Friday, November 30. Puck drop is 7 p.m. for the Safeway Movember Game. Radio broadcast begins at 6 p.m. on Sportsnet 960 The FAN (960 AM) with a one-hour pre-game show.sSingle game day tickets are available at all Ticketmaster locations as well as the Scotiabank Saddledome 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, visit www.hitmenhockey.com or contact customer service at 403-777-4646.