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WHL: Driedger, Hitmen eliminate Broncos from playoffs

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The Canadian Press
3/29/2013 3:03:48 AM
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Chris Driedger stopped 34-of-35 shots as the Calgary Hitmen eliminated the Swift Current Broncos from Western Hockey League playoff action with a 3-1 victory on Thursday.

The 18-year-old goaltender finished the first-round series with a 4-1 record, to go with a 1.91 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.

Jake Virtanen and Elliott Peterson both had their first WHL playoff goals for the Hitmen, while Victor Rask also scored.

Coda Gordon scored the lone goal of the game for the Broncos, who failed to qualify for the WHL playoffs in each of the past two seasons.

Eetu Laurikainen made 23 saves in the Swift Current net in a losing cause.

The Broncos went 1 for 6 on the power play, while the Hitmen failed to score on three chances with the man advantage.

Swift Current jumped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to a power-play goal by Gordon at 11:24 of the first period. Less than five minutes later, Virtanen drove hard to the net and snuck a shot through Laurikainen's legs to pull the Hitmen even.

Shortly after Rask put the Hitmen up 2-1 at 12:07 of second period, Peterson added an insurance marker.

Although Swift Current outshot Calgary 13-8 in the third period, the Broncos failed to put any more pucks past Driedger, who was named the game's first star.

Elsewhere in the WHL it was: Kamloops 5 Victoria 4 (OT) and Spokane 4 Tri-City 3 (OT).

Blazers 5 Royals 4 (OT)

(Kamloops leads series 3-1)

At Victoria, Dylan Willick scored in overtime as Kamloops edged the Royals to take a 3-1 lead in their series.

The best-of-seven series now shifts back to Kamloops, B.C., for Game 5.

Chiefs 4 Americans 3 (OT)

(Spokane leads series 3-1)

At Kennewick, Wash., Blake Gal scored at 5:10 of overtime to lead Spokane to victory over Tri-City and give the Chiefs a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

The Americans will host Game 5 on Saturday in a 2-3-2 series format.

Spokane would not have been able to host Game 5 because the women's basketball NCAA West Regional is being played at Spokane Arena.

Calgary Hitmen (Photo: TSN)

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(Photo: TSN)
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