Hitmen shut out rival 'Canes

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

The Calgary Hitmen are on top of the heap.

And they dominated an old rival to get there.

Last night's 4-0 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes puts the Hitmen No. 1 in the WHL's overall standings.

"Any time you're sitting first place in the league, it's a big deal," said winger Brandon Kozun, who led the charge with a goal and two assists.

Tyler Fiddler, Brett Sonne and Alex Plante also scored for the Hitmen (9-3-0-0) while Marty Jones kicked out 23 shots for his first shutout of the season.

Last year, the Hitmen couldn't buy a win against the Canes (7-4-0-0), who won nine of 10 meetings, including all four playoff tilts in the Eastern Conference final. This year, Calgary is a perfect 3-0 against their southern rivals.

"We're a little self-motivated here," Kozun said. "Any time a team handles us the way they did last year, it's frustrating.

"Every time we play them, we get up a little bit extra. And I think that has shown so far."

Holding a 3-0 lead midway through the third period, the Hitmen put the game on ice.

Lethbridge starter Juha Metsola stopped Plante's first shot, but the Hitmen blueliner cashed in his own rebound.

The powerplay marker gave the Hitmen at least one man-advantage goal in seven straight games.

Meanwhile, the penalty killers continued to dominate, killing off all seven Lethbridge powerplays, including a lengthy two-man disadvantage. Calgary's penalty kill is operating at an insane 96.6% success rate.

Both Central Division rivals nearly got through the opening period unscathed.

But Kozun moved into a tie for the WHL goal-scoring lead with just 2.2 seconds to play.

The Calgary product executed a spinarama, poked a bouncing puck past Canes defenceman Brock Sutherland, and then beat Metsola with the buzzer beater.

"It's nice to play with some of the players I've been able to be with this year," said Kozun, who has nine goals on the season. "And I give the coaches a lot of credit. They've given me the opportunity."

Fiddler extended the home side's lead early in the second frame. The rookie was stopped on his original chance, but circled behind the net, took a pass from Bostjan Golicic and scored his first of the season on a wraparound.

The Hitmen struck for another late goal in the final minute of the period.

Kozun did all the legwork before Sonne arrived on the scene and blasted a slapper past Metsola for a 3-0 lead with 50 seconds to play in the second.


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