The Calgary Hitmen had a rough schedule this past week. But they won all four games, clinching a playoff spot.
The week that was
Friday: 3-2 overtime win over Brandon
Playing against a desperate Wheat Kings team that needed the points to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Hitmen played a tight game. James Malm opened the scoring, Mark Kastelic tied the game to force overtime, and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Riley Stotts score the winner in overtime. Hitmen starter Jack McNaughton made 19 saves for the win, while Vegas Golden Knights prospect Jiri Patera made 39 saves for the loss.
Saturday: 5-2 win over Kootenay
The final Hitmen visit to Cranbrook was a lot less competitive than their Friday game. They led the entire way, with Malm scoring a hat trick and Kastelic and Josh Prokop adding insurance goals. McNaughton made 24 saves for the win, while ICE netminder Curtis Meger made 26 saves for the loss.
Sunday: 6-2 win over Kootenay
Back at home, the Hitmen completed the rare three-in-three sweep with another one-sided victory over the ICE. Carson Focht had a hat trick, Josh Prokop scored twice and Ryder Korczak added the other goal. Carl Stankowski made 38 saves for the Hitmen win, while Jesse Makaj made 31 saves for the ICE loss.
Wednesday: 6-5 overtime win over Medicine Hat
This game had everything, as a desperate Tigers team battled back from a 4-1 deficit, and briefly had a lead before the Hitmen scored late to force overtime and eventually won in extra time. Focht had his second hat trick in as many games, Malm had two goals and Nashville Predators prospect Vladislav Yeryomenko netted the OT winner. McNaughton made 37 saves, while 2019 NHL Draft prospect Mads Sogaard was chased by the Hitmen early after allowing four goals on the first 13 shots he faced.
Good news, everybody
With the win, Hitmen clinched a playoff spot!
and now as it turns out, they HAVE clinched a spot:https://t.co/jB6b609wjz
Apparently because of head-to-head games left between BRN/RDR/MH, it's not possible for all 3 of them to beat/tie Calgary's points total. So the Hitmen are in.
— Alan Caldwell (@smallatlarge) March 7, 2019
What’s left on the schedule?
So, uh, the Hitmen could still potentially win the Central Division. The Edmonton Oil Kings are first with 82 points, followed by the Lethbridge Hurricanes with 82 and the Hitmen with 78. The Hitmen play Lethbridge once more and the Oil Kings three times.
The Hitmen have a quick weekend schedule: they host Edmonton on Friday and head down to visit Lethbridge on Saturday. Next week, they have a home-and-home series with Edmonton to finish off the regular season.