Hitmen claw out thrilling
Oct 22, 2013 / 10:00 pm
Zane Jones snapped a 1-1 tie with a goal off a mad scramble with 65 seconds left in regulation time leading the Calgary Hitmen to a 2-1 victory over the Kelowna Rockets Tuesday at Prospera Place.
The goal came at the end of a frantic 20 or 30 seconds in the Rockets end.
The Rockets had a couple fo chances to clear the puck but were unable to do so allowing the Hitmen to eventually steal the puck before Jones poked the loose disk past a fallen Whistle for the game winner.
The winning goal came against the run of the play as the Rockets dominated the final 40 minutes, outshooting Calgary 35-14 over that span and forcing Hitmen goaltender Chris Driedger into making several outstanding saves.
Driedger, who saw more rubber than a Goodyear factory worker was particularly sharp making key saves off Justin Kirkland, Tyson Baillie, Rourke Chartier and Ryan Olsen.
Rockets head coach Ryan Huska felt his team deserved a better fate on the night.
"For the first time this year I can say I think we deserved better," says Huska.
"I thought they were the better team in the first - we were chasing the game a lot. But, we made two poor decisions with the puck and they capitalized on those two."
Calgary struck first on a Rockets power-play. Damon Severson overskated the puck behind the Rockets net allowing Elliott Peterson to swoop in, grab the loose puck and drag it in front of the net.
Whistle gpot his right pad on the first two shots before Peterson managed to squeeze the puck between the pad and the post.
The Rockets came out flying in the second and were finally rewarded when Justin Kirkland scored his second of the season with Kelowna shorthanded midway through the second.
Ryan Olsen was checked off the puck in the Calgary end, however, an errant back pass was scooped up by Kirland who deked Driedger to the forehand before tucking an backhand into the open net.
The Rockets dominated the rest of the way but were held at bay by Driedger.
"That's the positive that we'll take from it. Calgary is a very good team," says Huska.
"I thought we responded well in the second and third period. We weren't able to score - their goaltender made some saves and I thought played very well for them."
While Driedger was easily the best player on the ice for either team, Huska says the Rockets have to find a way to generate goals.
"We need to find ways to be hungrier to score in situations," says Huska.
"We need to be harder to play against in front of the net - get more traffic and fight for second and third opportunities in order to score those goals."
Tuesday's loss was the Rockets first in regulation time on home ice as they conclude a four game homestand 2-1-0-1.
The Rockets hit the road for four straight, playing back-to-back games in Victoria this weekend and in Prince George the following weekend.
The Rockets are 11 games into the season and have yet to name a permanent captain.
The club has been rotating the assistant captain duties among a number of veterans.
Huska says the club is taking its time but are close to naming a captain.
"It's is coming. We are in the process of sorting this out. We want to make the right decision and I think that's why we are taking a little bit longer with that selection."
Earlier in the day the Kamloops Blazers and Kootenay Ice completed a blockbuster seven player deal.
The Blazers sent 19-year-old forward Tim Bozon and defenceman Landon Cross to the Ice in exchange for 17-year-old Forward Collin Shirley, 18-year-old Defenseman Matt Thomas along with a third round pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft and a first and fifth round selection in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.
"It's nice we don't have to see him (Bozon) very often anymore. He's a very good hockey player and I'm sure both teams got what they were looking for."
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