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Chris Driedger made 39 saves as the Calgary Hitmen beat the Swift Current Broncos 3-1 on Friday night. The Hitmen took a 2-0 lead in the first round best of seven series.
Cody Sylvester led the way for the Hitmen with a goal and an assist. Victor Rask also had a 2 point night as Calgary won despite being outshot 40-23.
The Broncos got off to a much better start on Friday as they established their cycle game and really put pressure on the Hitmen. The line of Adam Lowry, Graham Black and Coda Gordon twice drew penalties after extended segments of play in the Calgary zone, but the Broncos couldn’t cash in. They outshot the Hitmen 14-7 through 20 minutes of play.
The Broncos continued a strong forecheck to start the second period and still couldn’t beat Driedger. That opened the door for the Hitmen and Sylvester took advantage with his first of the playoffs at the midway point of the period. Eetu Laurikainen couldn’t squeeze a point shot from Jaynen Rissling and Sylvester knocked in the rebound to open the scoring.
Calgary struck again at 15:50 of the second when Greg Chase re-directed a centering feed from Sylvester over Laurikainen for a 2-0 lead.
The third period didn’t start well for the Broncos as they took a penalty, killed it off, and then gave up another goal to extend their hole. Laurikainen couldn’t glove a shot from Brooks Macek and it dropped in front of him for Rask’s first of the playoffs.
Swift Current cut into the lead on a power play midway through the third when Lowry one-timed home a feed from Black for his second of the playoffs. That’s as close as the Broncos would get.
Dalton Reum took a late penalty and despite a few shorthanded chances the Broncos couldn’t go on the attack until the final 1:30 of the game. Black had a couple of good looks late and Driedger again shut the door.
The series not shifts to Swift Current for games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday. Monday’s bout is the first playoff game in Swift Current in 4 years. You can listen to all the playoff games live on The Eagle 94.1 FM with The New Pioneer Co-op Broncos Hockey at 6:30pm.
Tickets are on sale for both home games.