Instigator rule hurts Hitmen

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

Hockey's new code helped the Moose Jaw Warriors beat the Calgary Hitmen yesterday.

With a one-goal lead in the third period, Hitmen enforcer Rigby Burgart grabbed Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Ryan Stanton and started a fight after Stanton levelled Jessi Hilton with a devastating -- but clean -- bodycheck.

Burgart was handed an instigator penalty, former Hitmen forward Brendan Rowinski got the tying goal on the powerplay and the visitors got the winner later after stealing momentum.

The result of the 4-3 Warriors road victory in front of 6,349 spectators at the Saddledome stings Burgart, but he doesn't regret doing what is perceived as his job.

"You have to step up and help out a teammate," Burgart said. "If I got hammered like that, I would hope someone would step up for me. I don't know what happened to the rules. Everyone's changed it around. I don't really like how it changed.

"If they get away with that, then the momentum goes their way. We didn't want that to happen."

Hitmen coach Mike Williamson wouldn't condemn Burgart for the situation, which was made worse due to timing.

"Part of his role is to make our team bigger and be there for guys," Williamson said. "It's a fine line there. In a close hockey game, you probably want to send a message without putting your team short.

"Rigs has to play on the edge and provide that physical presence. He made a decision there, and we have to live with it."

In the opening period, the new rule cost the Hitmen their captain.

Following contact with Warriors defenceman Dylan McIlrath, Ian Schultz defended himself when his opponent dropped his gloves for a fight. At the end of the skirmish, Schultz knocked McIlrath down and was given a game misconduct for that move.

The problem for the Hitmen with this one was the Warriors weren't slapped with the instigator.

"You have to be able to protect your teammates," Burgart said. "The same thing happened when Schultz was jumped. At first, Schultz didn't drop his mitts and there was no instigator. Then, Schultz was kicked out.

"The same scenario happened. This guy didn't drop the mitts, and I'm the one who gets kicked out. I don't really like it."

The loss was the Hitmen's first of the young WHL season, dropping them to 5-1. The Warriors improve to 4-3.

With starting goalie Martin Jones still out with an ankle injury, Hitmen backup Michael Snider struggled, especially in the third period.

Snider got a piece of the game-winner, as Warriors forward Dylan Hood broke down the left side and fired a shot short-side that went off the blocker and into the bottom corner of the net.

The tying one wasn't pretty either.

Rowinski was behind the net when he kicked the puck towards the crease, attempting a pass, but Snider had it caught in his feet and he fumbled it into the goal.

Kris Foucault had two goals, while Ben Wilson had a powerplay marker, as the home side cruised through two periods.

"We got outworked," Fou-cault said. "We are a skilled team, and you can see that on the powerplay. We need to do it five-on-five."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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