Tigers rocked by Stone

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Special teams have carried the day--every day -- this season for the Calgary Hitmen.

And yesterday was no exception.

Brett Sonne and Michael Stone scored powerplay goals to give the Hitmen a 2-1 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers at the 'Dome.

Hitmen head coach Dave Lowry credited his special teamers for delivering yet another win as his squad improved to 14-4-1-0, tops in the WHL.

"For us, special teams have been the key to our success," Lowry said.

"Today, we capitalized at critical times when we got our opportunities."

Tigers defenceman Mark Isherwood scored his team-leading eighth of the season, also on a powerplay, to account for the visitors' offence.

But nine minutes after Isherwood's marker, the Hitmen powerplay needed just four seconds to notch the equalizer. Sonne won the faceoff to Paul Postma and then went to the net to redirect the defenceman's blast past Bengals starter Ryan Holfeld.

Stone scored the game-winner 7:28 into the second period when he buried his head and unloaded the cannon past a screened Holfeld.

"I just ripped it far side," Stone said of his sixth of the season. "I didn't really shoot for any specific spot. I just wanted to get it on net."

The Hitmen powerplay, ranked second in the league at 29.3%, has scored at least one goal in 14 straight games and in 18 of the club's 19 games.

"Our special teams are really helping us win games," Stone said.

"We score when we get chances on the powerplay and we kill off the penalties we take."

As good as the powerplay, which was 2-for-6 yesterday, has been, the penalty kill has been even better.

The Hitmen penalty killers are tops in the WHL with a 92.4% success rate.

"A lot of guys are sacrificing themselves to block shots," said Stone, who came up with a huge block of his own in the first period when the Tigers were enjoying a two-man advantage that they later scored on.

By adding the powerplay and penalty killing percentages together, it shows how good a team's special teams are. Anything over 100 is above average. The Hitmen are at 121.7.

Calgary starter Marty Jones kicked out 23 shots to pick up his eighth win of the year while Holfeld (7-5-3) faced 34 shots between the Tigers pipes.

Holfeld was the busier goaltender and also faced more high-quality shots.

He made a first-period glove stop off winger Brandon Kozon and robbed Jason MacDonald from point-blank range in the final frame.

Kozun saw his seven-game point-scoring streak come to an end.

The Hitmen are back at the 'Dome tonight to face the Kootenay Ice.


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