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Stallard leads Hitmen comeback over hometown Wheaties

Jason Pirie/hitmenhockey.com

Jordy Stallard is having himself a fairly decent week.

The 18-year-old Brandon product scored twice and added an assist to propel the Calgary Hitmen to a 6-4 come-from-behind win tonight over his hometown Wheat Kings.

Stallard, who notched Sunday’s Teddy Bear Toss goal that has since gone viral, has now notched four goals in his last three games.

“I don’t even know how to explain what’s been happening,” said Stallard, whose Hitmen trailed 4-2 before scoring four unanswered goals in the third period. “It was an unbelievable experience to score the Teddy Bear Toss goal, and something I’ll never forget, and then tonight it was just a lot of fun to be able to contribute to a win in front of family and friends.”

Carsen Twarynski had a goal and two assists and Jake Bean pitched in with three helpers for the Hitmen, who not only extended their winning streak to three games but took over top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Jakob Stukel, Jordy Stallard, Radel Fazleev and Tyler Mrkonjic also scored for the Hitmen, who have collected 21 of a possible 24 points in their last 12 games. They have also outscored their opponents by a combined 51-29 margin during that span.

“It wasn’t the prettiest effort, but the guys showed a lot of character in the third period to ensure we came away with a win,” said Hitmen head coach Mark French, whose squad won for the first time this season after surrendering four or more goals.

“I think everyone is comfortable with the new guys that have joined the team,” said Stallard, on his team’s turnaround. “Everyone has nicely come together both in the room and on the ice.”

John Quenneville, Macoy Erkamps, Tim McGauley and Ivan Provorov responded for the Wheat Kings, who fell to 17-9-1-2 on the season and wasted an opportunity to take over top spot in the East Division with Prince Albert losing tonight in Edmonton.

Goaltender Nik Amundrud, acquired by Calgary late last month from the Saskatoon Blades, turned aside 26 of 30 shots for the win in his Hitmen debut.

Jordan Papirny, meanwhile, made 30 saves in a losing cause for the Wheat Kings.

The Hitmen went 1 for 4 on the power play and the Wheat Kings scored once on seven power play opportunities.

Brandon’s Quenneville opened the scoring at 6:40 of the first period when he accepted a backhand pass from Nolan Patrick in the slot and buried his 12th goal of the season.

Stukel, who saw his career-high six-game point streak halted during Sunday’s win over Swift Current, evened the contest with his team-leading 15th goal when he made no mistake on a breakaway at 16:34 of the first period. Defencemen Micheal Zipp and Travis Sanheim, who extended his point streak to five games, contributed the helpers.

With Hitmen rookie Andrew Fyten called for slashing early in the second period, though, Brandon captain Erkamps took advantage on the power play by providing his Wheat Kings with a 2-1 lead at 3:26.

Stallard, from Bean and Twarynski, would draw the Hitmen even once again with a one-timer from the right circle while on the power play at 17:17 of the second period.

“Beaner made a great play through the seam and I was lucky to get enough wood on it for it to go in,” said Stallard.

The Wheat Kings would regain their lead, however, when a quick McGauley shot from the slot eluded Amundrud with 1:16 to play in the second frame.

In the third period, a speeding to the net Provorov – who appeared to be everywhere on this night – nicely redirected a Linden McCorrister shot from the right circle at 6:40 to provide Brandon with its first two-goal advantage of the game.

For the Wheaties, though, that lead wouldn’t be enough.

Fazleev brought the Hitmen to within one after bursting through the slot before displaying great patience and depositing his 14th marker of the season at 9:39.

Mrkonjic, with his third goal in as many games, drew the Hitmen even for the third time of the game when he buried a rebound off the back glass at 14:29 to set up the Stally show.

Hometown boy Stallard then potted his second tally of the contest and eventual game winner when he jumped on a rebound after a Bean blast from the point and fired it behind Papirny with under five minutes to play.

“Another great play by Bean,” Stallard said. “He was able to get a good shot on net with traffic in front and the puck came to me and I was able to backhand it in.”

Twarynski, with his third point of the game, would cap the comeback and round out the game scoring with a shorthanded empty-net marker with only 28 seconds left on the clock.

The Hitmen (19-11-1-1) will look to extend their winning streak to four games when they pay a visit to the Regina Pats (14-11-2-1) tomorrow night. Game time at Regina’s Brandt Centre is 6 p.m. MT.

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