May 8, 2009
Dominant return home for HitmenForce Game 6 in WHL final
By SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA
The message was clear: Not in our house.
The Calgary Hitmen staved off elimination for the second straight night with a dominant 6-1 victory in Game 5 of the WHL Championship at the Saddledome.
Winger Ian Schultz said the club was determined not to go down on home ice to the Kelowna Rockets.
"Absolutely," Schultz said. "We pride ourselves in our home record.
"We only lost a couple of games here in the season, and playoffs should be the same. But they came in and kind of embarrassed us the first two games.
"We don't take that lightly. We took it personally and came out with a good effort."
Their best effort.
The Hitmen were in complete control from the drop of the puck until the final horn and were full marks for their second win of the series.
Joel Broda scored a pair and added an assist for the Hitmen, who forced Game 6 at Kelowna's Prospera Place tomorrow night (8 p.m., Shaw TV, Fan 960).
Game 7, if necessary, would go Monday at the Dome.
Kris Foucault, Brett Sonne, Alex Plante and Rigby Burgart also bent the twine as the suddenly resurgent Hitmen offence put a half-dozen pucks behind Rockets starter Mark Guggenberger.
Cody Almond scored the lone goal for the Rockets, who will take their third crack at closing out this series tomorrow on home ice.
Kelowna coach Ryan Huska said his squad didn't bother to show up last night.
"There was one team on the ice tonight is all I can really say," Huska said.
"We didn't get off the plane, I guess, last night. It was one of those nights for our club.
"But our group's not going to roll over because we lost two in a row. I'll tell you that much."
The Hitmen launched 50 shots at Guggenberger while Hitmen start Martin Jones was solid once again, turning aside 18 of the 19 pucks that came his way.
Jason MacDonald, Brandon Kozun and Cody Sylvester had two assists each for Calgary.
Playing with their backs to the wall for the second time in 24 hours, the Hitmen came flying out of the gates and took 14 of the first 16 shots on net.
But it wasn't until the their 15th attempt, with a couple of bodies sitting on top of Guggenberger, that Foucault found the back of the net for his first of the series.
The Hitmen continued to pour it on in the middle frame, outshooting the visitors 20-5.
Broda got two cracks at a powerplay rebound and converted on the second one to give his club breathing room.
The Rockets might have been badly outplayed, but after Almond went top shelf on a deke, they were right back in the game ... for just over a minute.
Sonne found Kyle Bortis alone in front, but Guggenberger made a big pad save. Sonne put the rebound home from a bad angle.
Broda was back for more before the end of the period.
Plante's point shot went off the backboards and came out on the other side of the net, where Broda was staring at the empty cage.
The Hitmen continued to physically punish the Rockets as winger Ian Schultz caught Rockets defenceman Tyson Barrie with his head down and delivered a big open-ice blow. Schultz was handed a charging minor, but the Hitmen penalty killers continued to excel. They've killed off 14 straight Kelowna powerplays the past four games.
Plante scored a third-period powerplay marker before Burgart scored his first career playoff tally with 2:30 to play.
Burgart, the club's seldom-used enforcer, carried a defender to the net and jammed away until the puck crossed the goal-line, which set off a bit of a donnybrook behind the Kelowna net.