He's a Konstant factor

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

Martin Gelinas was nicknamed 'The Eliminator' for his heroics during the Flames playoff run last spring. Hitmen rookie Konstantin Pushkarev could be worthy of a similar moniker if he keeps this up.

Pushkarev scored the OT winner -- his second in the past three games -- to give the Hitmen a 3-2 victory over Swift Current last night at the 'Dome.

With Calgary on a 4-on-3 powerplay in the extra session, Shaun Landolt held the blueline, faked a few shots and slid a pass to Pushkarev at the top of the circles.

The shifty import delayed before sending a rocket into the top corner for the game winner.

"I like scoring in overtime because the team wins," said Pushkarev, whose English continues to improve along with his play.

"I like overtime. In Europe, we never play overtime except for playoffs. I think it's (stupid) over there."

Fellow rookie Brodie Dupont gave the Hitmen a 2-1 lead early in the third period. Walking out of the corner, the 17-year-old wired a shot from the left faceoff dot into the top corner.

But the Broncos forced sudden death when Calgary goaltender Justin Pogge made a rare mistake with the puck. Pogge came out of the net to play the puck but sent it onto the stick of Swift's Marc Desloges, who found Joshua Aspenlind in front with a wide-open cage.

Pogge said he was glad his gaffe didn't cost the team a crucial point in the standings.

"They bailed me out," Pogge said after his club moved to 30-18-6-3, two points out of top spot in the Central Division.

"It was a pretty big mistake in our own end and it cost us a goal. But the team backed me up.

"I mishandled it. It just bounced off my stick. But that happens. I'll learn from it and hopefully it'll never happen again."

The Hitmen penalty killers were the story early on as Calgary snuffed out four penalties in the opening period. And they proved to be more dangerous than the lethargic Broncos powerplay, creating a number of dangerous chances.

Overager Brett O'Malley had the best opportunity when he was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down by Justin Cruse. But Calgary product Kyle Moir foiled O'Malley's backhand attempt to keep the game scoreless through 20 minutes.

The visitors grabbed a 1-0 lead during a wild scramble early in the middle frame.

With Pogge out of the net and bodies diving all over the place, Desloges managed to slide the puck into the net.

An incensed Pogge tried in vain to argue with officials he had been interfered with. When his plea fell upon deaf ears, the 'tender dumped his net on it's side.

The goal appeared to spark the Hitmen, who answered less than a minute later.

Landolt tipped Jeff Schultz's point shot past Moir for the centre's 12th of the season.

Calgary nearly grabbed the lead late in the period but, despite a pair of powerplays where they had sustained pressure, Moir held the fort.

Darryl Moscaluk found Pushkarev with a post-to-post feed but Moir slid across and managed to get a glove on the shot.

Calgary outshot the Broncos 22-14 through 40 minutes.

Next up are the Kamloops Blazers, who pay a visit to the 'Dome tonight at 7 p.m. The Blazers lost 4-2 to the Red Deer Rebels last night. Ted Vandermeer scored twice for the Rebels.

- - -

CALGARY HITMEN: 3

SWIFT CURRENT BRONCOS: 2

OVERTIME


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