Calgary, AB. - In the biggest game of his young career, Peter Kosterman picked a great time to score his first Western Hockey League goal.
The 17-year-old defenceman tallied the game-winning goal at 2:40 of the second period as the Calgary Hitmen downed the Tri-City Americans 4-1 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven WHL Championship Series.
“I wasn’t too sure it was a goal necessarily because I thought maybe (Cody) Beach had tipped it or whatever, so I was really happy,” Kosterman said. “I didn’t know so I didn’t want to throw the big celly. I was pretty happy after, I was very excited.”
Kosterman didn’t even find out he was suiting up for the game until about 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“I was nervous but I settled down enough I guess,” said Kosterman, a Calgary native who had a large cheering contingent on hand to see his milestone moment. “Someone said my mom was crying, getting pretty emotional.”
After the contest, Hitmen Head Coach Mike Williamson was asked about his decision to replace fellow rookie defenceman Jaynen Rissling in the lineup with Kosterman.
“He’s come so far,” Williamson said. “Both he and Riss have shared a lot of ice time. Peter especially, I think his confidence has grown so much as the year has come after Christmas.
“It’s just nice to see, not only a guy get an opportunity and contribute, but just the reaction from the bench and everyone was so happy for him. It obviously was a huge goal and we’ve said all along, you need everybody and you need guys to step up in key situations.”
Joel Broda, Del Cowan and Tyler Fiddler also scored for the Hitmen, while Brandon Kozun chipped in with two assists. Goalie Martin Jones made 21 saves to record his 14th win of the post-season.
“Jonesy held us in there,” Williamson said. “We got some timely goals and some big saves by him.”
Johnny Lazo scored the lone goal of the game for the Americans, who will host Games 3 and 4 of the series on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash.
“I think we need to exhale,” said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, who’s expecting a bounce-back effort by his squad on home ice. “We came in here and you know they held serve. I think they played really well and we didn’t get done what we wanted to get done for sure.”
Tri-City goalie Drew Owsley allowed three goals on 15 shots before being replaced in net in the second period by Alexander Pechurskiy, who made 22 saves in a relief appearance.
1. Ian Schultz, Hitmen
2. Giffen Nyren, Hitmen
3. Alexander Pechurskiy, Americans
HARDEST WORKING HITMAN
AMERICANS 1 at HITMEN 4
1. Calgary, Broda 13 (Nyren, Schultz) 10:11
Penalties - Plouffe TC (hooking) 3:14, Yuen TC (cross-checking) 4:02, Kozun Cal (hooking) 5:34, Nyren Cal (tripping) 11:41, Beach Cal (interference) 14:27.
2. Calgary, Kosterman 1 (Fiddler, Royer) 2:40
3. Calgary, Cowan 4 (Stone, Kozun) 3:53
4. Tri-City, Lazo 7 (Toll, Shinnimin) 4:44
Penalties - Shinnimin TC (checking from behind major, game misconduct), Toll TC, Fisenko Cal (roughing) 6:34, Stone Cal (interference) 18:51.
5. Calgary, Fiddler 5 (Kozun) 17:06
Penalties - MacKenzie Cal (delay of game) 3:09, Cal bench (too many men, served by Foucault) 7:34, Foucault Cal (hooking) 17:29, Schmidt TC, Schultz Cal (fighting) 17:44, Plouffe TC, Kosterman Cal (roughing) 19:14, Mestery TC, Nyren Cal (roughing) 19:37.
Shots on goal by:
Tri-City 7 6 9 - 22
Calgary 11 17 10 - 38
Goal (shots-saves) - Tri-City: Owsley (L, 12-7) (15-12), Pechurskiy (3:53 of second) (23-22); Calgary: Jones (W, 14-6).
Power plays (goals-chances) - TC: 0-7; Cal: 0-4.
Referees - Chris Savage, Pat Smith. Linesmen - Chris Carlson, Chad Williams.