Broncos blank Hitmen 2-0
By Laurence Heinen
CALGARY, AB. – With just seven games remaining on the season for the Calgary Hitmen, head coach Mike Williamson wants to see a better effort from his players than they put forth on Friday night.
Mired in the basement of the WHL’s Western Conference, the Hitmen had a chance to gain ground on the Swift Current Broncos, who were just six points ahead of them.
“We don’t want to be in the basement and neither do they,” said Hitmen interim captain Ben Wilson. “Tonight was a big game to catch those guys. There was a lot of frustration.”
Instead, the Hitmen (19-41-3-2) suffered a disappointing setback to the Broncos (25-40-0-1), who had lost eight straight games and 16 of their past 17 heading into the night.
“We didn’t do enough to get to the net at one end and only got excited to play for five minutes stretches two or three times,” said Williamson. “Other than that I thought it was a very unemotional game.”
Jordan Peddle scored in the first period for the Broncos, while Brad Hoban added an insurance marker in the third. Goalie Mark Friesen stopped all 28 shots he faced to record his fifth shutout of the season.
Calgary netminder Brandon Glover stopped 17 of 19 shots he faced at the other end of the ice.
The Hitmen went 0-for-5 on the power play, while the Broncos failed to score with their three chances with the man advantage.
“Special teams have been our Achilles heel,” Wilson said. “We have to get better on the power play. Obviously, their penalty killers are working hard, so we have to work harder than them.”
The Hitmen now hit the road for a pair of games against the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Tuesday and the Broncos in Swift Current on Thursday before returning home to start a three-game homestand next Friday night (7 p.m.) when the Lethbridge Hurricanes visit the Scotiabank Saddledome.
With time running out on the season, Williamson said he wants to see his players fighting for a sense of pride to show the coaching staff who wants to be back next year.
“We’ve kind of been sending that message for a while now that we’ve got to figure it out,” Williamson said. “There are a lot of guys eligible to return here that aren’t necessarily showing what they can bring to the table or enough to come back and contribute. They’ve got a short time window here to do that.
“We’re not a team that can rely on one or two guys to do it and we’re not a team that can have one or two guys take a night off,” he added. “We need everybody to go out and compete. If we come up short we can live with that I think, but not what we saw tonight.”
1. Mark Friesen, Broncos
2. Jordan Peddle, Broncos
3. Ben Wilson, Hitmen
BRONCOS 2 at HITMEN 0
1. Swift Current, Peddle 11 (Dowling) 19:27
Penalties – Peddle SC (hooking) 5:05, Peddle SC, Wilson Cal (roughing) 8:48, Clayton Cal (roughing) 10:23, Blanke SC, Fisenko Cal (unsportsmanlike conduct), Novotny SC (hooking) 15:42, Verdino SC (delay of game) 19:57.
Penalties – Scarlett SC (roughing), Foucault Cal (goaltender interference) 4:27, Lubin Cal (tripping) 7:16, Craig SC, Lowry SC, Clayton Cal, Trzonkowski Cal (roughing) 13:47, Verdino SC (roughing), Blanke SC, Gayle Cal (misconduct), Wilson Cal (interference, roughing, misconduct) 15:15, Peddle SC (slashing) 18:22.
2. Swift Current, Hoban 19 (Novotny) 9:04
Penalties – Verdino SC (tripping) 10:14, Verdino SC, Humphries Cal (misconduct) 12:21.
Shots on goal by:
Swift Current 8 4 7 – 19
Calgary 7 9 12 – 28
Goal – Swift Current: Friesen (W, 23-33-1); Calgary: Glover (L, 8-14-2).
Power plays (goals-chances) – SC: 0-3; Cal: 0-5.
Referees – Tyler Adair, Chris Crich. Linesmen – Steve Cochrane, Scott Sharun.