In what might have been a preview of the Western Hockey League finals, the Calgary Hitmen were in championship form.
Brett Sonne scored a goal and added two assists as the Hitmen blanked the Vancouver Giants 4-0 in a showdown between the two best teams in the league on Friday night. Hitmen goaltender Martin Jones made 28 saves en route to his league-leading 44th win and seventh shutout of the season. All of Calgary's goals came on the power play as the Hitmen capitalized on four of seven man-advantage opportunities. The Giants were blanked on just two power plays.
The win gave the Hitmen a sweep of their two-game regular-season series with the Giants. Calgary earned a 6-3 home victory against Vancouver on Jan. 16.
The two clubs, which have lost a combined 17 games in regulation this season, will only meet again if they both reach the finals. Neither team has lost more than two games in a row all season.
Elsewhere in the WHL, it was: Brandon 7, Moose Jaw 4; Tri-City, 4 Seattle 2; Prince George 2, Spokane 0; Regina 4, Medicine Hat 3; Kamloops 5, Portland 4; Kootenay 3, Red Deer 2; Saskatoon 5, Prince Albert 4; Swift Current 3, Edmonton 1; and Kelowna 3, Chilliwack 1.
At Vancouver, Bostjan Golicic, Michael Stone and Kyle Bortis also scored as the Hitmen (60-9-3-1) retained top spot in the WHL, four points ahead of the Giants (55-8-1-3), who suffered only their third regulation-time loss at home. The win greatly improved the Eastern Division-leading Hitmen's chances of securing home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
Vancouver netminder Tyson Sexsmith stopped 25 shots.
Wheat Kings 7, Warriors 4
At Brandon, Man., Brayden Schenn notched two goals and two assists and the Wheat Kings scored five unanswered goals in the third period to beat Moose Jaw.
Aaron Lewadniuk had two goals and one helper, Matt Calvert added a goal and two assists, while Mark Stone and Jay Fehr rounded out the scoring for Brandon (44-18-3-2).
Jason Bast scored twice and Ryan Stanton and Corey Scott added singles for the Warriors (18-47-1-2).
Americans 4, Thunderbirds 2
At Kent, Wash., Adam Hughesman had a goal and an assist as Tri-City downed the Thunderbirds.
Johnny Lazo, Spencer Asuchak, Hughesman and Taylor Procyshen also scored for the Americans (48-17-0-3), who clinched top spot in the U.S. Division.
Chris Cloud and Jonathan Parker scored for Seattle (31-31-1-4).
Cougars 2, Chiefs 0
At Prince George, B.C., Kevin Armstrong made 31 saves to earn his second shutout of the season as the Cougars blanked Spokane.
Tyler Halliday and Marek Viedensky scored power-play goals for Prince George (25-40-0-2). Cameron Cepek assisted on both markers.
Dustin Tokarski stopped 37 shots for the Chiefs (42-22-0-3).
Pats 4, Tigers 3
At Regina, Matt Strueby scored twice, including the winner early in the third period, as the Pats came back to edge Medicine Hat.
Colten Teubert had a goal and an assist and Matt Robertson also scored for Regina (26-35-1-5), which rallied from a 3-1 deficit late in the second period.
Sean Ringrose scored a pair and Tyler Ennis added a goal and an assist for the Tigers (35-26-4-3).
Blazers 5, Winter Hawks 4
At Kamloops, B.C., Tyler Shattock scored two goals, including the eventual winner, to lead the Blazers past Portland.
Seth Compton, Shayne Wiebe and Brendan Ranford also scored for Kamloops (32-30-2-4).
Chris Francis, Troy Rutkowski, Travis Ehrhardt and Luke Walker replied for the Winter Hawks (17-45-2-2).
Ice 3, Rebels 2
At Red Deer, Alta., Andrew Bailey's third-period power-play goal was the winner as Kootenay slipped past the Rebels to clinch a WHL playoff berth.
Tylan Stephens also scored on the power play and Kevin King added a goal for the Ice (32-27-2-6).
Joel Kot and Landon Ferraro, with a man-advantage marker, replied for Red Deer (22-26-1-9), which was officially eliminated from the playoff race.
Blades 5, Raiders 4
At Prince Albert, Sask., Charles Inglis scored his second goal of the game with less than six minutes remaining to lift Saskatoon over the Raiders.
Milan Kytnar, Travis Toomey and Adam Chorneyko also scored for the Blades (48-16-3-1).
Ryan Harrison and Brandon Herrod each had a goal and an assist for Prince Albert (29-35-4-1). Ryan McDonald and Justin Bernhardt added goals.
Broncos 3, Oil Kings 1
At Edmonton, the Oil Kings' push for a more secure foothold on the eighth and final playoff spot was stalled as they lost to Swift Current.
Dillon Wagner scored the winner 2:16 into the third for the Broncos (39-27-1-1). Cody Eakin and Geordie Wudrick also scored.
Jeff Lee replied for Edmonton (27-32-4-5).
Rockets 3, Bruins 1
At Chilliwack, B.C., Stepan Novotny scored the eventual winner in the first nine minutes of the game as Kelowna cruised to victory against the Bruins.
Lucas Bloddoff and Mikael Backlund also scored for the Rockets (42-21-1-3), who outshot Chilliwack 40-15.
Mike Krgovich had the lone reply for the Bruins (15-46-2-5).