March 17, 2012
Calgary secured third place in the Eastern Conference standings in convincing fashion with a 3-0 victory over the Kootenay Ice.
|North Bay Battalion|
|Owen Sound Attack|
|Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds|
|Acadie-Bathurst Titan||Baie-Comeau Drakkar|
|Blainville-Boisbriand Armada||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles|
|Chicoutimi Sagueneens||Drummondville Voltigeurs|
|Gatineau Olympiques||Halifax Mooseheads|
|Moncton Wildcats||PEI Rocket|
|Quebec Remparts||Rimouski Oceanic|
|Rouyn-Noranda Huskies||Saint John Sea Dogs|
|Shawinigan Cataractes||Sherbrooke Phoenix|
|Val-d'Or Foreurs||Victoriaville Tigres|
Calgary secured third place in the Eastern Conference standings in convincing fashion on Saturday night in front of 14,982 fans with a 3-0 victory over the Kootenay Ice.
“The guys have a lot of reasons to be proud of the way they played in the second half and where we’ve gotten to compared to where we were a year ago,” said Head Coach, Mike Williamson regarding the 27-10-0-0 record since Christmas break.
With the win, the first round playoff opponent was also determined as the Brandon Wheat Kings finished the season in sixth. Calgary will have home ice advantage in the seven-game series, which begins on March 22nd.
“Our goal was to make the playoffs and now we have to reset that. I think we continue to come together and if everyone steps up, like they did in the second half, we have a chance to really go somewhere,” added Williamson.
Jimmy Bubnick acknowledges that Brandon will be a tough opponent, “They got a lot of offensive power and we have to match that. Things have been going really good lately, but ultimately we just need to worry about our game.”
The Hitmen swept the home-and-home series against the Kootenay Ice, closing out the season with 91 points and leading them into playoffs on a two game winning streak.
“They (Kootenay) came into the game hungry. We preserved, got the lead and played our game,” said Bubnick who contributed two goals and a helper in the win.
Impressive goaltending on the part of Hitmen netminder Chris Driedger stumped the Kootenay offence, particularly in the first frame as he made a number of highlight worthy saves. At 11:03 Driedger robbed Brock Montgomery of a juicy opportunity along the blue paint as he managed to slide across the crease and get his right pad down to keep the score at zeros.
Chris Driedger made 25 saves to record his 24th win and third shutout of the season.
“We don’t want to rely on our goalies and much as we did earlier in the game. (Driedger) was unbelievable for us tonight and that’s what both of these guys are capable of,” commented Williamson on the goaltending duo.
With three minutes remaining in the second stanza, a two-on-one for the Hitmen paved the way for the first goal of the game. Trevor Cheek fed Greg Chase as the rebound made its way through to the point. From there, Peter Kosterman unloaded a howitzer as he collected his second goal of the season to put Calgary up 1-0.
Jimmy Bubnick sealed the victory for the Hitmen in the final frame as he added a pair of markers to his team-leading total, finishing out the regular season with 36 goals.
An important insurance marker came just 20 seconds into the third as Greg Chase set Bubnick up for the one-timer.
A further sense of security emerged halfway through the third as Chase went to work behind the net, once again finding Bubnick in front. The Hitmen veteran performed a nifty spin while managing to find the puck in his skates and lifted it in.
First overall 2011 Bantam Draft pick, Jake Virtanen also factored in an assist on the goal.
The Hitmen will open the 2012 playoffs against the Brandon Wheat Kings on March 22 and 23. Both games are 7:00 p.m. starts at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Playoff tickets are available now at all Ticketmaster locations and online at www.ticketmaster.ca. For information on playoff packages and group tickets, call Customer Service at 403-777-4646. A buffet will be served in the Avison Young Club Dining Room before each playoff game, open two hours prior to puck drop. For buffet reservations, call 403-571-9733. The reservation line is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The first round of playoffs will be a 2-3-2 series. Calgary will travel to Winnipeg for Game 3 on Sunday, March 25 at the MTS Centre. Game 4 of the series will take place on Tuesday, March 27 followed by Game 5, if necessary, on Thursday. If necessary, Games 6 and 7 will be played at the Scotiabank Saddledome on April 1 and 3.