Hitmen goalie finding form

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:43 PM ET

BRANDON — Calgary Hitmen goaltender Martin Jones has been beaten a dozen times in the Memorial Cup.

But only 10 pucks have crossed the line.

Hitmen defenceman Giffen Nyren has swept rolling pucks off the goal-line in back-to-back games.

But the high risk-high reward defenceman said Jones doesn’t owe him a thing.

“I don’t think Jonesy’s going to be buying me dinner,” Nyren said.

“He’s bailed me out on a couple of bad pinches just as much as I’ve helped him out with a couple that have squeeked by him — if not more.

“I think I should be buying him dinner.”

Jones has been beaten on the first shot he’s faced in each of the past two games.

But Wednesday night against the Brandon Wheat Kings, he returned to the form that made him MVP of the WHL playoffs.

The Los Angeles Kings prospect boarded up the net the rest of the way, kicking out the remaining 39 shots.

“He responds really well, and that’s why he has a professional deal sealed up,” Nyren said.

“And that’s why we won that game (Wednesday). Brandon put a lot of pucks on net in the second and third periods.

“He was a huge difference for us.”

Jones wasn’t happy with the start after Wheaties centre Jay Fehr buried a one-timer from about six feet out.

But he was more than satisfied with the rest of the game.

“It was a tough start,” Jones said. “I wanted to make sure I had a good game today.

“To let in that first one was a little tough, but I thought I battled back hard and made some good saves.”

Jones has clearly gotten into the heads of the Wheat Kings, who have scored 10 goals on 167 shots (.940 save percentage) over the past five games — all Hitmen victories.

Although Wheaties defenceman Travis Hamonic certainly wasn’t going to admit it.

“I don’t think it’s as much him getting in our head than us not burying the chances,” Hamonic said.

“There’s an old saying that you should look where he isn’t, not where he is and try to find the holes in the net.

“When you run into a goaltender that played the way he did (Wednesday), you want to keep firing shots because something is bound to go in.”

Brandon overager Matt Calvert wasn’t ready to put Jones up on a pedestal either.

“We’re going to keep on peppering him Friday,” Calvert said. “We’ve solved him a few times. He’s a good goalie, but there’s a lot of good goalies in the league, and as you move up in the pro levels, there’s going to be better goalies than him. You’ve got to learn how to score, and we’re going to find a way.”

Jones was at his best late in the game, when the Hitmen found themselves down two men for four straight minutes and still managed to keep the Wheaties off the board.

“To be able to kill that off was big,” Jones said.

“It was good for the confidence in our penalty kill.”

— with files from Ken Wiebe

scott.fisher@sunmedia.ca


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