Hitmen Outwork Royals In First Game Of The New Year

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Dec 31, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Hitmen picked up a 6-3 win over the Victoria Royals Tuesday afternoon in the first game of the new year.

Following a convincing 4-0 win over the Giants on Sunday, the Hitmen came out and once again outworked another B.C. Division opponent.

“It was an important win for us,” head coach Steve Hamilton said. “Having a game like this to follow up one of our better games of the year is huge to get us trending in the right direction.

“We don’t see them a lot so we had to focus in our own gameplan and it paid off for us.”

Carson Focht had a pair of goals while James Malm and Luke Coleman each chipped in with a goal and an assist to lead the Hitmen to victory. Mark Kastelic and Kaden Elder also found the back of the net while Jack McNaughton made 23 saves to pick up the win, including stopping a penalty shot in the first period.

The Royals meanwhile saw goals from Kaid Oliver, Brandon Cutler and Dante Hannoun in the loss. Goaltenders Griffen Outhouse and Brock Gould split the duties in goal, which saw Outhouse make eight saves before being replaced by Gould in the second stanza who came in and stopped 19 shots.

With a tight 2-1 game headed into the middle frame, the Hitmen broke free with three unanswered goals including two of them 19 seconds apart.

“I don’t think I’ve ever scored a goal that fast after one was just scored,” Coleman said. “It was a huge boost, we were on the high of scoring the one goal so to go out there right after and put it home just built our confidence more.

“You only get one chance to beat a team that you only see once a year so it was nice to get the job done.”

With the win, the Hitmen now have sole position of ta playoff spot after being tied for a wildcard spot with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

It’s been an impressive climb back with no signs of slowing down.

“We’re building a lot of chemistry and all four lines are rolling right now,” Focht said. “We have such great depth and it’s been helping us win games.

“We’ve been working hard to get into a playoff spot and it’s great to see our hard work pay off. We aren’t satisfied though, we need to keep building momentum and want to move up in the standings.”

The Hitmen will now look to extend the win streak Friday night as they welcome the Red Deer Rebels to the Scotiabank Saddledome with another divisional clash against the Medicine Hat Tigers Saturday afternoon.

To say the next two tilts are big is an understatement.

“Every game is different but each one is important,” Hamilton said. “It’s been a climb in the last 20 games or so and we can’t look back, we need to keep moving forward.

“I like how our guys have responded and come out with energy each time and we’ll need that same intensity this weekend.”