While the shot clock considerably favoured the Moose Jaw Warriors mid way through the Friday night affair, the Hitmen turned on the after burners en route to a 6-1 decision.
“I thought we were sluggish at the start. We weren’t moving our feet or getting pucks to the net. We finally started doing those things with [Sylvester] got the second goal,” evaluated bench boss, Mike Williamson. “We started to get some energy, move and execute the things we wanted. Hopefully we can have a better start the next time out on Sunday and make sure we put in 60 minutes.”
Over the past two home wins, Calgary has combined for 16 goals against while surrending only three.
Carrying on the theme of rookie contribution from Wednesday’s 10-2 victory over Brandon that saw Chase Lang and Austin Calladine score their first WHL goals, it was Colby Harmsworth’s turn to etch his name on the score sheet. The 17-year-old defenceman recorded three assists, accompanied by a plus-3 rating.
“It feels good to chip in,” said Harmsworth as he tripled his overall point production on the season. “I was just giving the pucks to the forwards and letting them do their thing.”
“He was jumping in the play today and making things happen from the backend,” acknowledged Hitmen netminder, Chris Driedger. “I haven’t really seen that from him. He proved that he can be a really good defenceman.”
Brooks Macek (1g, 2a) also recorded a team-leading three points, while Alex Roach, Cody Sylvester, Pavlo Padakin, Zane Jones and Brendan Hurley scored in the win. Brady Brassart chipped in a pair of assists for Calgary.
Tonight was the third of four meetings between the Hitmen and Warriors, as Calgary now leads the season series 3-0 following a home-and-home sweep in November.
With that, the feast of the east lives on, as the Hitmen are now 8-0-1-1 against the East Division.
While the Moose Jaw Warriors carried the early momentum, outshooting the Hitmen 8-3 in the opening frame, the home team recorded the first digit on the scoreboard. With just over five minutes remaining on the clock, Brooks Macek fed Los Angeles Kings prospect, Alex Roach parked on the blue line. Plenty of bodies in front of the net provided an ideal screen as Roach unloaded a searing slapshot past Moose Jaw backstop, Daniel Wapple.
The Warriors leveled the playing field 1:30 into the middle frame as Carter Hansen honed in on a rebound and pounded it past Driedger. Moose Jaw hemmed the Hitmen in their zone for over half of the period until Cody Sylvester turned the tide. The captain skated out from behind the Warriors cage and recorded the go-ahead tally, ramming it through the short side.
The wraparound marker led to a Hitmen turnaround as a multitude of Hitmen players pitched in to tally four markers over five minutes. This included a highlight reel marker courtesy of Hurley. The left-winger battled his way through Warriors defenders to gain prime real estate in front of the net, roofing it in on the falling backhand.
“It was nice to see the forwards had some chemistry. It wasn’t just our top line getting goals tonight. All four lines were contributing so that’s good for me and that’s what we want,” added Driedger.
Driedger made 26 saves in the Hitmen net to record his third win in as many starts.
“Our D are pretty good at making it easy for me. It’s great when I can see all the pucks,” credited the Ottawa Senators prospect on his 21st win of the season.
Calgary will now wrap up a three-game homestand on Sunday, January 6 as the Hitmen host the Vancouver Giants in the second annual East West Shrine Hockey Challenge, supporting Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Puck drop is 4 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
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. For more information on tickets, including the Sunday Ticket Pack and Name Your Game Flex Package, visit www.hitmenhockey.com or contact customer service at 403-777-4646.