January 5, 2009
Giving up nettin' at allLatest shutout stretches goal-less streak to 182 minutes
By SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA
It's like trying to score on a shooter-tutor that doesn't have any holes.
Calgary Hitmen goaltender Martin Jones is starting to feel like someone boarded up the net behind him every time he's between the pipes at the Saddledome.
"I don't know -- it kind of feels like it," Jones said with a smile yesterday after recording his second home shutout in less than 24 hours as the Hitmen blanked the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers 6-0.
Jones' shutout streak at the 'Dome is at 182:35 and counting.
"I wasn't too busy (yesterday)," said Jones, who kicked out 19 shots for his league-leading 25th victory of the season. "I had a couple of good saves, but I just feel really comfortable. And the guys are playing really well defensively.
"When I get shots, a lot are from the outside. So, it's pretty easy to play for these guys, right now."
Bostjan Golicic had a goal and two assists to lead the charge offensively for the Hitmen, who won their 15th straight home game -- and 11th consecutive overall -- and improved to 21-1 at the 'Dome this season.
That translates to a .955 winning percentage at home, which puts the club on pace to shatter the franchise record of .833 (1998-99 and '99-2000).
Keith Seabrook, Jason MacDonald, Alex Plante, Carson McMillan and Brandon Kozun, who grabbed a share of the overall league scoring lead, also lit the lamp for the Hitmen.
Jones lowered his goals-against average to a league-best 1.92.
"You know the numbers better than me," he said. "It's not something I worry about.
"As long as we're winning games, that's the most important thing."
That's all the Hitmen seem to do: Win.
At 36-5-1-1, Calgary owns a 24-point cushion over the second-place Medicine Hat Tigers atop the Central Division standings.
The top-ranked junior team in the country is on pace for a 124-point campaign, which would eclipse the franchise record of 120 (1999-2000).
It took the Hitmen almost the entire first period to generate some offensive opportunities. Calgary had managed just one shot prior to a late-period powerplay, but Seabrook put the hosts on the board first with a seeing-eye shot from the point.
His seventh of the season gave the Hitmen at least one powerplay marker in 20 consecutive games.
The Hitmen seized the momentum from there and cashed in again before the period ended.
Slovenian Bostjan Golicic held off Tigers d-man Mark Isherwood with one arm and sent a one-handed shot on net. MacDonald shelved the rebound for a 2-0 lead. The Hitmen continued to ride the wave in the middle frame, as Plante banged in a rebound on another powerplay.
McMillan busted wide around the Bengals defence, settled a bouncing puck and beat Tigers starter Tyler Bunz to the glove side near the midway point. That goal sent Bunz to an early shower, as Ryan Holfeld took over in relief.
Kozun potted his team-high 28th during a wild scramble in the third period before Golicic closed things out with a nice backhand deke in the final minutes.
The Hitmen are back at the 'Dome Wednesday to face the Prince Albert Raiders (7 p.m., FAN 960).