Hitmen blank Tigers

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:33 PM ET

Martin Jones was perfect — again.

And this time, he needed to be.

The Calgary Hitmen needed every one of his 33 stops to earn a 2-0 win over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers Saturday night at the Dome.

Joel Broda scored the eventual game winner with 10 seconds left in the second period and Del Cowan iced it into the empty net with 10 ticks left in regulation.

But the real story was Jones, who picked up his second shutout in his past four games, all of which were wins.

“It’s a nice feeling when you know you have to contribute,” Jones said.

The Los Angeles Kings prospect, who made his 14th consecutive start between the pipes since returning from the world junior tournament, moved into a tie with Justin Pogge for first place on the franchise’s all-time shutouts list.

“When you get mentioned with a guy like Pogge, it’s a pretty big honour,” Jones said.

“But more importantly, we’re cruising right now.

“It’s been a defence-first mentality and that’s been key for us in this last little stretch.”

Jones, who has surrendered two goals over the past four games, is obviously on top of his game.

The Hitmen almost relied on him too much, recording just one shot on net — Cowan’s empty-netter — in the third period.

Head coach Mike Williamson said Jones was the difference on a night where his team never really got going.

“Jones was incredible for us tonight,” Williamson said. “Medicine Hat was the better team in terms of scoring chances tonight, and Jones slammed the door shut.

“We obviously want to generate more than (one shot). I think we backed off a little bit.

“We need to establish a forecheck and make sure we’re playing a good portion of the game below the hashmarks in their zone.”

Tyler Bunz nearly matched Jones save for save through the first two periods and then stood and watched his team pour it on in the third.

The Hitmen improved to 36-16-2 and moved into sole possession of top spot in the Central Division while the Tigers fell to 32-18-8, two points off the pace.

Calgary won the season series with Medicine Hat with a 4-1-1 record.

The opening period was a scoreless yawner with neither team generating any good scoring chances.

Even the scrap, between Hitmen winger Cody Beach and Tigers blueliner Scott McKay, ended before it started as both players hit the ice before a punch was thrown.

Jones kept the Bengals off the board with a number of big stops in the middle frame.

Rookie scoring sensation Emerson Etem was awarded a penalty shot after being taken down by Zak Stebner, although replays indicated the sprawling Hitmen defender got the puck before making contact with Etem.

But Jones made it a moot point when he closed up the five-hole to deny Etem on the penalty shot.

With two minutes to play in the period, Jones jammed his left toe against the post to deny Calgarian Matt MacKay, who was jamming away on the doorstep and then got his left shoulder on a Tomas Kundratek howitzer seconds later.

The Hitmen finally got on the board on a late powerplay.

Broda, who had six of his team’s 23 shots through 40 minutes, took a puck from the boards into the slot and then beat Bunz low to the blocker side with 10 seconds left.


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