In a Thanksgiving edition of the Battle of Alberta, the Calgary Hitmen were thankful for the team effort that resulted in a 6-5 overtime victory against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday afternoon.
“They have a great team, we played really hard, it was especially great to beat a divisional opponent,” said Hitmen defenceman, Alex Roach on the dramatic win. “We’re really happy to get two points; three overtime games in a row, I thought it was finally our time to win one”.
Spencer Humphries was the overtime hero as he netted the game winner on the power play with 49 seconds remaining in extra time.
Today’s triumph doubles the number of wins Calgary recorded against Edmonton in the six-game season series last year. The Hitmen now lead the series 2-0 with four games remaining between the two provincial rivals.
Calgary marked the first of eleven goals on the afternoon. A seemingly innocent dump-in turned into Alex Roach’s first of the season as his shot from centre ice took a fortunate deflection off Oil Kings’ Curtis Lazar and past Calgary Flames prospect, Laurent Brossoit.
“I was tired at the end of the shift there, I was just trying to get it deep and change, but it took a lucky bounce off the guy’s stick, and I’ll take it,” commented Roach on the opening marker.
It did not take long for the defending WHL champions to even the score as T.J. Foster skated into the slot on the man advantage and made the most of a screen in front of Chris Driedger.
While the second frame featured plenty of end-to-end action, the scoring stalemate was not broken until 11:46 in when Brady Brassart unloaded a howitzer through an Oil Kings defender and over the blocker of Brossoit.
The Calgary lead was short lived as Foster buried his second of the night less than a minute later.
The Oil Kings closed out the period with a 3-2 lead as Driedger surrendered another at the hands of Foster, as the Edmonton right-winger recorded a hat trick through 40 minutes played.
“We are both very fast and skilled teams and we are going to try and score a lot of goals, and they’re going to score a lot of goals too,” acknowledged Brooks Macek on the offensive battle. “They have tons of skill over there, it is always going to be an interesting match-up.”
Just over three minutes into the third frame, Hitmen captain, Cody Sylvester grinded it out down low as he slipped the puck around the right pad of the Oil Kings backstop to knot things up at 3-3.
Foster played the spoiler 24 seconds later as he recorded his fourth of the game to re-establish a one-goal Oil Kings lead.
For the second time of the afternoon, Alex Roach would be the benefactor of some puck luck as he fired a shot from the point, which made its way through all sorts of traffic and into the back of the cage. The LA Kings prospect registered a WHL career-high three point performance, as he also contributed a helper on Brassart’s second period goal.
Brooks Macek put a halt to the previous scoring pattern as he followed up with a Calgary marker, putting the Hitmen up 5-4 and extending his own point streak to six-games.
With 1:12 remaining in the back-and-forth battle, Calgary’s Darian Henry was accessed a tripping penalty, providing Edmonton with the man-advantage as the clock ticked down. A new scorer stepped out for the Oil Kings as Michael St. Croix cashed in on a mad scramble in front of the Hitmen net, sending the game to extra minutes.
“It gives you a look at different situations, obviously with the overtime and shootouts those are different dynamics of the game,” commented head coach, Mike Williamson on their third straight three-point game. “I think it is good for your team to have to go through it, obviously it’s a lot better when you’re on top and find a way to win, but even the other games teach the guys to get through those situations.”
Blanked on six previous power play opportunities during regulation, Calgary was the recipient of a crucial man advantage after Griffin Reinhart was handed a slashing penalty.
““It was a pretty wild one, every time we scored, they kept scoring next shift,” explained Macek. “It came down right to the end there; we got lucky with their penalty and happened to bury it”.
Spencer Humphries made it count as the Hitmen worked it around the zone before the assistant captain picked up a failed clearing attempt and wired it through for the game winner.
“Obviously the fans like it when we beat them, they are the defending champs, they’re going to have a target on their back for the whole year,” said Macek, looking ahead to the next Battle of Alberta matchup. “Obviously we got them twice now so they’re definitely going to be ready for the next game.”
The Sunday afternoon win carries over the success from last year’s 10-3-1-0 Sunday matinee home record.
Ottawa Senators prospect Chris Driedger made 26 saves to record his fourth win of the season.
Calgary will now play three straight games over the weekend of October 12-14, starting Friday in Edmonton (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet 960 The FAN), before returning to the Scotiabank Saddledome for matches against Red Deer and Kamloops.
Tickets for upcoming Hitmen games are available at all Ticketmaster locations as well as the Scotiabank Saddledome box office. Order online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1-855-985-5000. Contact customer service at 403-777-4646 for more information on tickets including the Sunday Ticket Pack and Name Your Game Flex Package.