Hitmen offence goes cold against Ice

WES GILBERTSON, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

Maybe the Calgary Hitmen are already missing Brandon Kozun.

One day after watching their offensive catalyst score twice and add three assists in his debut for Team Canada at the world junior hockey championship, the Hitmen couldn't generate much of anything in a 3-1 loss to the host Kootenay Ice last night in Cranbrook.

Del Cowan was the only Hitmen skater to light the lamp, spoiling Todd Mathews' shutout bid with just over two minutes remaining.

"(Kozun) is a big guy out of your lineup, but we have enough," said Hitmen coach Mike Williamson. "You're not going to go very far if you just rely on one guy."

According to Williamson, the problem was Kozun and Team Canada netminder Martin Jones weren't the only ones 'missing' last night.

As the Hitmen prepared to board the bus for the trip back to Calgary, Williamson made it clear he expects more out of his top-tier players, even calling out a handful of key contributors by name.

"I thought our top players -- the guys that we need to be good -- were below-average," Williamson said. "We had some good effort out of guys that play on the third and fourth line and supporting roles, and we need that.

"But we also need guys like (Joel) Broda, (Tyler) Fiddler, (Ian) Schultz and (Michael) Stone to carry the load for us, and they didn't do that.

"Your best players need to be your best players, and ours were not tonight."

Winger Jesse Ismond had a goal and an assist for the Ice (20-15-1-2), while Matt Fraser and Brayden McNabb also found the net for the hosts.

Mathews stopped 34 shots to card the win. Michael Snider, who is filling in for Jones as the starter, made 23 saves for the Hitmen (26-10-1-1).

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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