Hitmen Crush ICE To Wrap Up The Rivalry

Candice Ward/Photo

Look good, play good.

And don’t’ forget, a perfect three-for-three on the weekend.

The Hitmen wrapped up a busy stretch of four games in five days with a 6-2 win over the Kootenay ICE Sunday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The victory was the fifth straight as they continue to heat up at the perfect time.

“You want to play your best when it matters most,” head coach Steve Hamilton said. “The guys have made it hard for other teams to play against us and have shown tremendous growth, grit and perseverance to get to this point.

“We were able to stay sharp to get the job down for all three games.”

Carson Focht scored his second hat-trick of the week with Josh Prokop adding a pair and Ryder Korczak rounding out the scoring. Carl Stankowski got the call in net and turned in an outstanding performance with 36 stops.

On the other end, Connor McClennon and Martin Bodak were the only ICE skaters to light up the lamp for the visitors while Jeese Makaj ended with 31 saves.

In what was the final battle between the Hitmen and Kootenay this season, it also marked a close to the chapter of a historical rivalry with the ICE moving to Winnipeg next season.

And in the end, the Hitmen got two more victories to seal the deal.

“It’s nice to wrap up a rivalry that’s gone back years with two big wins,” Prokop said. “It’s a shame that they are moving franchises but there will always be a lot of history between the clubs.

“We knew that we controlled our fate and took matters into our own hands to pick up some much needed points.”

After a close one-goal game headed into the second period similar to Saturday night in Cranbrook, it was déjà vu again as the Hitmen turned it up and took control.

Three goals in the second and two more in the third put the contest to bed in the perfect way to end a three-in-three.

“Every day we’re building towards playoffs and knew that this weekend was going to be a test mentally and physically,” Focht said. “We have taken care of ourselves off ice to make sure that we go out there with a full effort each time.

“We’ve been getting better and building to be what we want to be and it’s rewarding to see all the hard work pay off.”

With a streak of 5-0-1 in their last six games, the Hitmen are now four points back of Lethbridge for second in the Central Division and now seven points clear of Medicine Hat for third.

It was a big weekend with six massive points racked by as the regular season gets closer to an end. Playoffs are in sight but there’s still some unfinished business first.

“The guys will get some much deserved rest tomorrow,” Hamilton said. “Then it’ll be back at it as the games don’t get any less important as we move forward.

“I am incredibly proud of the group to be where we are with five games left. It’s a testament to their belief and willingness and we’ve come a long way.”

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