Radel Fazleev was quick to hand out the praise after Friday night’s game versus the Swift Current Broncos.
He thanked Kenton Helgesen for scoring the game-tying goal with less than a minute again.
He thanked head coach Mike Williamson for showing confidence in him by putting him in the shootout.
But really, the Hitmen faithful should be thanking the Russian import for ending a mini four-game slump with a shootout beauty, securing a 3-2 win over the Broncos.
It’s the same move that Fazleev has done four times previously in the shootout, with only one goal.
“It’s not so beautiful but I can score with this move more than other shots,” Fazleev said, who was recently listed as a Player to Watch for November by NHL Central Scouting.
It wasn’t a difficult shot — just a head-fake then a shot far-side off the bar and in.
“He’s got tremendous skill and a knack for being poised in a pressure situation like that,” Williamson said. “We have confidence in him and it was nice for him to find a way to score there.”
Helgesen added, “We’ve been struggling with the shootout lately, so it was nice to get the win. Driedger shut the door on the back, and Faz put a nice move in there with a great celebration.
“I think I was the first one off the bench, I was so happy.”
While Fazleev was the one who sent the ‘Dome crowd home happy, they wouldn’t have been in that position had it not been for Helgesen.
For the second time in three games, Helgesen was able to poke home the game-tying goal with less than a minute to go.
“I was going to the net just like before and I kinda got cross-checked and as I was falling down, I threw it towards the net and it went five-hole,” Helgesen said, who has now tied his career-high with three goals so far this season.
Helgesen’s marker ended a high-pressure period for Hitmen as they pushed to tie the game.
Greg Chase rang one puck off the crossbar and had another shot snagged out of the air by Broncos goalie Landon Bow. Both Chase Lang and Zane Jones were able to dance through the defence for great scoring chances.
“The guys just kept working and their goalie was playing pretty good, but we kept peppering him with pucks,” Helgesen said.
Not only does the Hitmen victory end their own four-game slide, it also put an end to the red-hot Broncos nine-game winning streak.
Calgary improves to 11-6-1-3 on the season and remains in fifth in the Eastern Conference.
After a scoreless first period, the Hitmen opened the scoring with Greg Chase sniping his team-leading 14th goal of the year.
However, the Broncos rebounded with back-to-back power play markers from Graham Black and Jay Merkley to take a lead they would hold until late in the third.
Goalie Chris Driedger made 37 saves in the game, as well as three in the shootout, to pick up his fifth win of the year. His counterpart Bow turned away 35 pucks in the other net.
Calgary continues their six-game homestand on Sunday with a date against the Moose Jaw Warriors. The game, originally scheduled for 4 p.m., now starts at 6 p.m.