Hitmen eke one out

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

The Calgary Hitmen left a third of their lineup on the bus last night in Moose Jaw.

But the players who were healthy enough to suit up came through with a spectacular effort.

Czech import Lukas Vantuch scored the game-winner with 8:02 left in the third period as the flu-ravaged Hitmen beat the Warriors 2-1.

The Hitmen improved to 45-17-2-0 and remain one point back of Central Division-leading Medicine Hat. The Tigers, who have a game in hand, visit the 'Dome Sunday afternoon.

With injured defencemen Dylan Yeo and Shaden Moore already out of the Calgary lineup, fellow blueliner Alex Plante and forwards Freddie Pettersson, Brett Sonne and Mike Reich were forced to miss last night's game with the flu.

GM/head coach Kelly Kisio, who was also feeling under the weather, said it was the club's grittiest undertaking of the season.

"Even when we've had a full team, that was the best effort we've had by far," he said. "It was outstanding."

Assistant coach Dave Lowry was the first one to come down with the flu, which spread like wildfire through the team bus yesterday.

"Lowry had it in Regina and then everybody else got it this morning," Kisio said. "After the morning skate, guys started going down like flies."

Keegan Dansereau scored in the second period while Justin Pogge made 23 saves to hand Moose Jaw its first regulation loss in 16 games (13-0-2-0).

Kisio said the game plan was simple against the WHL's top offensive club.

"Obviously, our game was going to have to be basic tonight," he said. "We made sure they had to come through four or five guys to get to the net."

The visitors' penalty-killing unit was the difference, shutting down Moose Jaw's high-octane attack on all seven opportunities.

Speedster Steve Covington was especially effective while a man down as Calgary earned its 22nd road win, tied with Vancouver atop the WHL.

"He probably killed half of one penalty down in their zone by chasing guys around," Kisio said. "He was good all night."

The Hitmen powerplay continued to struggle, going 0-for-4, and has converted just once in the last 31 chances.

Calgary is off until Friday and Kisio said the club would take at least one day off to try to nurse his lineup back to full strength.

"We'll take (Monday) off for sure, see how the rest of the guys are and then go from there."

HIT PARADE: The three stars were D Matthew Hansen, Calgary RW Steve Covington and Calgary C Riley Merkley ... The Hitmen host the Swift Current Broncos Friday (7 p.m. at the 'Dome, The Fan 960).


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