Jones boards up Hitmen cage

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Martin Jones' goal-against average has taken a beating this series.

Yup, it's ballooned from 0.76 all the way to 0.82 after the opening two games of the WHL's Eastern Conference semifinal.

Jones' 'problem' is that he's set the bar so ridiculously high -- or, in this case, low -- that every time he surrenders a goal, the GAA goes up.

"Obviously, it's been a nice, little run," Jones said after giving up one goal in each of the first two games against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

"But the most important thing is we're getting wins and we're getting better each game."

Jones hasn't been beaten more than once in any playoff game this spring.

With the league's most explosive offence in front of him, that translates into a winning formula.

"I definitely feel good, and I feel confident in the net," said the Los Angeles Kings prospect after backstopping his squad to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"But when guys are giving up their bodies and blocking as many shots as they have been, it doesn't hurt."

Hitmen bench boss Dave Lowry said Jones, an Eastern Conference second team all-star, has lived up to the expectations placed upon him.

"That's what we expect out of Marty," Lowry said. "We expect him to win hockey games.

"And when we have breakdowns, we expect him to make the saves. (Game 2) was another case where he was very good for us."

With the series shifting to Lethbridge for Games 3 and 4 (tonight and tomorrow, 7 p.m.), Jones will need to continue his stellar play.

Hurricanes goaltender Juha Metsola proved Sunday he's capable of matching Jones save for save.

"Juha has been huge for them and has been the backbone of their success," Jones said.

"We have to continue to get traffic on him."

Hitmen defenceman Alex Plante said the rest of this series could turn into a goaltending battle.

"Both goalies are at the top end of the league," Plante said.

"It's all going to come down to bounces and who's going to get to the areas to score."

With home-ice advantage, Hurricanes coach Michael Dyck will be able to get superstar centre Zach Boychuk away from Calgary's checking line more often than he could at the Saddledome.

The Hitmen's top checking trio of Chase Schaber, Ian Schultz and Carson McMillan was able to contain the dangerous sniper in Game 1 and 2.

"It gives us a chance to get the matchups we want on the ice and gives us a chance to get back in the series," said Boychuk, who has assisted on both his team's goals this series.

"If you look at how their coach is coaching, I think they want specific guys out against specific guys.

"It'll be to our benefit that we're out there when we want to be out there."

Jones, who also sports a league-leading .961 save percentage, will likely see more rubber at the Lethbridge Enmax Centre.

"I don't mind having a few more shots," Jones said. "It's nice to be in those games and be a bit more of a factor.

"We just have to keep being physical and try to shut down their top guys.

"The gameplan doesn't change, but getting the matchups will be a little tougher."

If necessary, Game 5 goes Friday in Lethbridge.

Calgary would host Game 6 (Sunday) and Game 7 (Tuesday), also if necessary.


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