Kelowna, BC – Chris Driedger (Dree-GUR) made 27 saves for his first career Western Hockey League shutout backstopping the Calgary Hitmen to a 2-0 win over the Kelowna Rockets on New Year’s Day at Prospera Place.
Brooks Macek with his ninth goal of the season early in the first period, and Alex Gogolev with his 15th late in the second period, provided all the scoring the Hitmen would need.
Macek, a Detroit Red Wings prospect, scored on a bullet slap shot in the high slot, while Gogolev, a Russian rookie, pulled a cross crease deke.
The penalty killing unit turned in a brilliant performance for both teams as Calgary and Kelowna went a combined 0-9 on the powerplay.
The win was Calgary’s second in row, improving their record to 2-1 on their current five game road trip through the BC Division.
Overall the Hitmen are 19-16-2-1. At 41 points they move four points ahead of Red Deer for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but now sit only three points back of the Brandon Wheat Kings for seventh.
The Hitmen return to action Tuesday when they make their first ever trip to Vancouver Island to face the Victoria Royals. The road trip winds up on day later in Vancouver against the Giants.
Listen to a post game interview with Chris Driedger here
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Calgary Hitmen 2 at Kelowna Rockets 0
Sunday, January 1, 2012 - Prospera Place - Kelowna, BC
Calgary 1 1 0 - 2
Kelowna 0 0 0 - 0
1, Calgary, Macek 9 (Sutherland), 1:12.
Penalties-Smith Kel (roughing), 9:10; Bulmer Kel (interference), 11:28; Goulbourne Kel (slashing), 11:32; Trzonkowski Cal (high sticking), 15:07; Bowman Cal (major-fighting), 17:47; Goulbourne Kel (major-fighting), 17:47.
2, Calgary, Gogolev 15 (Bubnick), 19:31.
Penalties-Kosterman Cal (kneeing), 1:49; Virtanen Cal (hooking), 5:31; Astles Kel (tripping), 8:44.
Penalties-Bulmer Kel (interference), 8:51; Bowman Cal (holding), 16:36; Sutherland Cal (roughing), 17:47; McColgan Kel (roughing), 17:47; Bubnick Cal (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 19:58; Heffley Kel (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 19:58.
Shots on Goal-Calgary 17-10-8-35. Kelowna 15-6-6-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Calgary 0 / 5; Kelowna 0 / 4.
Goalies-Calgary, Driedger 10-7-2-1 (27 shots-27 saves). Kelowna, Cooke 3-3-2-2 (35 shots-33 saves).
Referees-Mike Campbell (89), Jeff Ingram (82).
Linesmen-Kevin Bennett (29), Mike Langin (67).