Hitmen boarding up net

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

If this week was the mid-term exam, the Calgary Hitmen appear well on their way to a passing grade.

Hitmen GM Kelly Kisio said the tough stretch of games that began last Friday would give his players a good idea of where they stand.

Things didn't look good after a third-period implosion resulted in a 6-3 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings.

But the Hitmen defence has been airtight ever since --blanking the WHL's top-ranked Tri-City Americans, and then surrendering one goal apiece in Swift Current and Medicine Hat.

Hitmen defenceman Michael Stone said the stellar defensive stats are the result of a number of different things coming together.

"It's a combination of things," Stone said. "We've cracked down on the scoring chances against.

"And when we do give one up, Jonesy (goaltender Martin Jones) is there to bail us out.

"He's playing some of his best hockey right now."

Jones made his 13th straight start Thursday night as the Hitmen beat the Tigers 4-1 for their third consecutive win.

The Hitmen have beaten the Tigers in three of four meetings and Jones has been between the pipes for each of the wins.

Stone said the team has gained confidence over the past week.

"It's been a big-time boost," the Phoenix Coyotes prospect said.

"We had a couple of bad games last month.

"But once we got comfortable with the guys we brought in, we showed we can compete with the top teams because we are one of the top teams."

One of the newcomers, trade deadline acquisition Tyler Shattock, has played a major role in the club's turn-around.

The former Kamloops Blazers forward has dominated physically and has also rediscovered his scoring touch.

"He really gets in on the forecheck," Stone said of the heavy-hitting Shattock. "He takes a lot of pride in that.

"He's like (co-captain Carson) McMillan was last year.

"He'll block shots and bury the opportunities he gets."

Shattock has three goals and six points over the past four games.

SCOTT.FISHER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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