What a debut.
Recently acquired forward James Malm made quite the impact as he led the Hitmen to a 7-5 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers at the Scotiabank Saddledome Friday night, scoring the game-winner with just 1:20 left to play.
Talk about a clutch performance.
“I was thinking to myself ‘it would be pretty crazy if I got this goal,’” Malm said. “I was lucky to get the opportunity.
“Playing in this rink is so surreal and it feels awesome to be a part of the Hitmen. I was so excited and nervous but I felt great out there and it’s awesome to help improve the record.”
Mark Kastelic scored a pair of markers including an empty net goal to seal the win, while Vladislav Yeryomenko, Tye Carriere, Egor Zamula and Jake Kryski also scored for the home side. Goaltender Carl Stankowski made 27 saves to pick up his third win of the season.
The Tigers saw goals from Eric Van Impe, Hayden Ostir, Dylan MacPherson, Tyler Preziuso and Cole Clayton. Import goalie Mads Sogaard finished with 33 saves.
For Carriere, there was no mistake on this being his first career WHL goal, after he seemed to have scored it a few weeks back.
“It’s such a great feeling, I don’t really have the words to describe it,” Carriere said. “It was nice to contribute to the win and it gives me a lot of confidence going forward.
“It was a goal scorers goal and he can say legitimately that was his goal,” head coach Steve Hamilton said. “That line contributed and it was a big difference maker for us.”
The Hitmen have been no stranger to the back-and-forth games so far on the season, and this contest was no different. Every time the Hitmen would take a lead, the Tigers would have an answer until Malm picked up the puck and fired a wrist shot low blocker side.
There was no coming back from that snipe.
“Guys like that are difference makers,” Hamilton said. “I really like the two-goal cushion we got late to seal the deal. It made things easier on the old heart.
“We were resilient and going in we wanted to see contributions throughout the lineup. We wanted to see the little things that would help us get over that hump we’ve had at home and I thought everyone contributed in their own way.”
The Hitmen will have a quick turnaround as they know shift their focus to tomorrow afternoon when they welcome the Red Deer Rebels to the ‘Dome. It won’t be an average start time, as puck drop is slated for 1:30 p.m.
Momentum will be on their side as they look to keep it rolling to find the first win in the season series against the Rebels.
“It would be easy to make excuses with the early start but we agreed that there will be none,” Hamilton said. “We have a chance to build off an important win at home and we’ll be ready to go.”