May 4, 2009
Planted in record bookHitmen defenceman passes playoff benchmark in losing cause
By SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA
Calgary Hitmen defenceman Alex Plante reached a significant milestone Saturday night.
But the Edmonton Oilers first-round draft pick was hardly in a mood to celebrate.
Plante suited up for his 66th career playoff tilt -- the most in franchise history -- in a 5-2 loss to the Kelowna Rockets in Game 2 of the WHL Championship.
But he would have traded all of them for a W.
"It's nice to have that many games under my belt," Plante said. "Especially with the injury-plagued season I had last year.
"Also, I'm very appreciative to be with an organization that has so many good runs and to have all these opportunities to go to the playoffs.
"I'm really thankful."
Plante surpassed former blueliner Rod Sarich's mark Saturday and will continue to add to his mark in tonight's Game 3 at Kelowna's Prospera Place (8 p.m., Shaw TV, Fan 960).
"It's a nice feat, but having said that, my mind is on the next game," he said.
The Hitmen find themselves in the unenviable position of having to scratch and claw their way back into a series they trail 2-0.
Plante said his top-ranked club has the talent and the desire to battle back.
"I think so," he said. "We have enough skill in there. We have enough guys who really want it.
"We just have to bear down in our own zone and take care of that first."
The Hitmen put their perfect 6-0 playoff road record on the line tonight in Kelowna in what is obviously a must-win affair.
And the squad should draw confidence from its road success throughout the season.
Their .792 road winning percentage was tied for second-best in the circuit during the regular season.
Kelowna had an identical .792 success rate on home ice (fourth best).
"We're going into a tough barn but I think the guys will be really focused," Plante said.
The Hitmen have had their chances this series, but have been stymied by Rockets red-hot goaltender Mark Guggenberger.
They've also had a large number of shots blocked.
"The opportunities are there," Plante said. "There have been posts and stuff.
"We feel our forwards have been doing a great job. They're just having a tough time finding the back of the net."
The Hitmen were the highest scoring team in the league during the regular season.
But all the big guns up front have gone silent.
The only goal scored by a Hitmen forward through the first two games was produced by fourth-liner Tomas Karpov.
And if those sticks don't heat up tonight, this series will be a short one.
Winger Joel Broda, who led the league with 53 goals during the regular season, said there's no magic formula to beating Guggenberger.
"We have to simplify our game, get more traffic in front of him and start driving the net looking for rebounds," Broda said.
"He's playing really well right now, so it's going to take some greasy goals to get something by him."