Hitmen Can’t Overcome Early Struggles

One down, more to go.

The Hitmen dropped the first game of a two-game set against the Winnipeg ICE Saturday night 5-2, as the ICE took advantage to a quick start to hand the Hitmen their second straight loss.

Riley Stotts scored both Hitmen markers to match his career high in goals with 19 while Jack McNaughton recorded 27 stops in the loss.

Peyton Krebs, younger brother of Hitmen defenceman Dakota Krebs, paced Winnipeg with a pair of goals while Nolan Orzeck, Michal Teply and Jakin Smallwood added singles. Goaltender Liam Hughes earned third star honours with his 37-save performance.

Special teams were the main driver for the ICE who scored three power play goals and once shorthanded while the Hitmen failed to capitalize on five power play chances.

Winnipeg put the Hitmen on their heels early on as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes which then turned into a 5-0 game halfway through the second stanza. Stotts finally stopped the bleeding at 10:55 of the period, snapping a wrist shot into the top right corner to end the shutout bid for Hughes.

The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect would strike again on a similar looking play with another unstoppable shot popping out the the water bottle with nine minutes left to go in the final frame. That was as close as the Hitmen would get however as the ICE would limit their chances the rest of the way.

It won’t take long for the two clubs to get back at it as Sunday night will see them do it all over again for the second of four games this season. With a 1-2 mark on the current five-game road swing, the Hitmen will look for a fast reset before they head to Red Deer to take on the Rebels Saturday Jan. 25 to conclude the trip.

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