By George, that was close

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:29 PM ET

There's nothing better than showing up an ex. Except doing it twice in one week.

Justin Pogge, who was shipped from Prince George at the trade deadline, kicked out 32 shots to lead the Calgary Hitmen to a 3-2 victory over the Cougars.

Shaun Landolt, Brodie Dupont and Riley Merkley scored for the Hitmen, who beat the Cats 3-1 in the Spruce City last Saturday.

"Any time you play against your old team, you want to stick it to 'em," Pogge said after improving to 7-2 in a Hitmen uniform.

"I try hard every game but that one I played with a little more nerves."

The visitors cut into Calgary's 2-0 lead early in the third period when Nicholas Drazenovic finished off a nice passing play during a 5-on-3.

But the Hitmen re-established the two-goal cushion three minutes later when Keegan Dansereau threw a puck off Cougars starter Real Cyr that bounced in front of the net to Merkley.

The sophomore batted the rubber five-hole for the eventual game winner.

Colin Patterson made a game of it with his 15th of the season but Pogge stood tall the rest of the way as Calgary (26-17-6-2) held onto sole possession of third place and moved within three points of top spot in the tight Central Division.

Merkley said it felt good to hold onto the lead.

"These games are tense," he said. "At the end, we were gripping the stick a little hard.

"We were nervous on the bench and on the ice."

The 2002 first-round bantam draft pick said Pogge's arrival has the entire team believing in itself once again.

"It's huge," Merkley said.

"When you know the goaltender's going to make a big save, it helps everybody.

"And he's been doing it a lot."

The Hitmen scored the only goal of the opening frame on the powerplay.

Andrew Ladd found Landolt with a crisp, cross-ice feed and the overager's one-timer beat PG starter Real Cyr across the net to the stick side.

The penalty box was standing-room only midway through the second period when a scrum developed in front of the Cougars net.

The only scrap that developed was between two guys who were teammates a few short weeks ago as former Hitmen Lee Zalasky and blueliner Jeff Schultz dropped the mitts.

When the smoke cleared, referee Mark MacIsaac handed out 62 minutes in penalties, including an extra minor to Prince George, which was already a man down.

Calgary made good on the ensuing 5-on-3 when Dupont continued his recent hot streak by stuffing a rebound through Cyr's legs.

Former Cougar Dylan Yeo had a glorious opportunity to increase the Hitmen lead late in the period when a puck deflected into the slot. The wide-open d-man walked in and teed off but broke his stick. The change-up nearly fooled Cyr but hit the right post and laid in the crease.

Prince George outshot the Hitmen 34-27.

Calgary was 2-for-8 with the man advantage while the Cougars went 1-for-5.

The Hitmen host Calgary product Ryan Stone and the Brandon Wheat Kings tomorrow (2:30 p.m. 'Dome, AM 960 Fan). It's the first of three contests in a row between the two clubs.

- - -

CALGARY HITMEN: 3

PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS: 2


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