Game Preview: Saskatoon at Calgary

The Calgary Hitmen are officially headed to the postseason.

After an unrelenting 4-3 overtime comeback win against the Saskatoon Blades on Friday, the Calgary Hitmen managed to clinch a playoff position with seven regular season games remaining.

“I’m proud of the effort and leadership our guys have shown in the last half (of the season),” said Williamson. “Making the post-season is a goal every team has when the season starts so in that sense we are pleased. Ultimately however, our players know that we have bigger goals in mind and must continue to build.

Team captain, Cody Sylvester scored the overtime game winner 3:46 into OT after stripping Blades defenceman Dalton Thrower of the bouncing puck and cashing it in.

“It was just bouncing all over the place and then I just took a swing at it and I think it hit their guys stick and just went over Makarov’s shoulder,” recalled Sylvester,

The game did not start out in Calgary’s favour as the Blades scored on their first shot on net as Josh Nicholls received a pass from Darren Dietz in the slot and released it past Brandon Glover.

End-to end-action on a Blades powerplay halfway through the second frame saw a pair of short-handed opportunities and ended with Saskatoon’s leading scorer potting his 35th of the season.

The two-goal Blades cushion was short lived as the Ed Williams Player of February, Jimmy Bubnick picked up the rebound on the blue paint and roofed it over a sprawling Andrey Makarov.

The Hitmen peppered the 2012 World Junior Silver Medallist (Russia), Makarov with 20 shots in the second frame to the Blades’ seven.

“The guys came out strong tonight and maybe we weren’t rewarded with the chances we had but we stuck together as a team and it is a big win for us,” added Sylvester.

Back-to-back Saskatoon powerplays padded the Blades lead to 3-1 but once again Calgary wasted no time squandering the two-goal lead. Sylvester drew the Hitmen within one scoring on the wraparound. 

“We didn’t have any quit in us. I think we were playing really well although we were down and sometimes it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself,” commented Williamson. “It’s too late in this stage of the season to do that, I thought our guys showed great resolve in just buckling down and sticking with it.”

The tying tally came just four minutes later as a crisp pass by Alex Gogolev on a partial 2-on-1 landed on the tape of Victor Rask who snapped it past Makarov on the blocker-side. The marker extended the point streak of the Swedish rookie to eight games.

“On the bench, we were telling the guys not to get down on themselves and to go out there and keep battling. I think we did that well tonight and it paid off for us,” said Sylvester.

After accessed a penalty for too many men, Calgary once again found themselves shorthanded in the dying minutes of the third stanza and 30 seconds into overtime.

“They scored a couple powerplay goals during the game so for us to come up with that kill at the end was huge,” said Williamson.

Sylvester then sealed the win, netting his second of the night in overtime.

Chris Driedger replaced Brandon Glover in the third period. Glover stopped 17-of-20 shots, while Driedger made six saves for Calgary.Andrey Makarov made 37 saves for the visitors as the Hitmen outshot the Blades 41-26, including 20-7 in the second frame.Calgary travels to Kootenay to battle the Ice tomorrow night at the Cranbrook Recreation Centre.  Radio broadcast on Sportsnet 960 The FAN begins at 7:00 p.m.

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