Home side sparkless

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Halfway through last night's Saddledome Slumber Party, the centre ice JumboTron offered a blast from the past courtesy of Calgary Hitmen graduate Brent Dodginghorse.

The feisty forward was shown in a classic dustup from years gone by, an inspirational tussle with a Brandon Wheat King nonetheless, ending in a crowd-pleasing unanimous decision.

Sadly for the current Hitmen, the video clip failed to sufficiently jolt Calgary for the final 30 minutes of play.

If only current Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio could have sent Dodginghorse over the boards last night to reprise his role in a 3-1 loss to Brandon.

Calgary had nothing going as the Wheat Kings forced a deciding Game 7 tomorrow in Brandon. Not that a fight was needed to shake the Hitmen out of their sudden playoff doldrums but even a thunderous hit from Dodginghorse -- or anybody wearing white, for that matter - would have sufficed.

The furious early game onslaught most prescribed for the ailing Hitmen never materialized in the opening 10 minutes, although the home side managed to avoid falling behind in the first period like they had in recent games.

"We didn't get a lot generated," admitted Kisio, who has witnessed his club drop two and the first at home these playoffs.

"We looked like we were a little tentative as far as trying to not make mistakes instead of trying to win the hockey game.

"It looked like we were just trying to tie the game or stay close instead of going, like we were in the third period, going right after them and forcing them to make mistakes."

The threat of a 12-hour trek back to Brandon in the Iron Lung for Game 7 apparently offered little in the way of inspiration.

The Hitmen couldn't even keep the home crowd -- exceeding 15,000 and thirsty for a playoff victory -- revved up for the contest, managing to produce just six shots in the first period as the 'Dome fell silent.

Brandon's Jakub Sindel, just 47 seconds into the second frame, further quieted the home crowd with the game's first goal.

Meanwhile, Brandon was playing a textbook road game, limiting the Hitmen's scoring chances while the locals managed just 15 shots through 40 minutes.

Try as he might, Hitmen captain Ryan Getzlaf's attempted to take on the role of inspirational leader, offering a gritty effort early on.

While not directing rubber towards Wheat Kings goalie Tyler Plante, Getzlaf was rocking Wheaties defenceman Tim Konsorada in the Brandon corner early on setting a physical tone.

Hitmen goaltender Justin Pogge's inspired play kept them in the contest through 40 minutes, outshot 20-15.

Although Plante might have stole Game 5 back in Brandon, the Wheaties get full marks for this smart road win.

"We made a couple of mistakes tonight that cost us but other than that, especially in the last half of the second and third period we really started taking it to them," Kisio claimed.

"We had lots of great chances. Plante obviously came up fairly large on a few of those chances ... Now we've got to go back to Brandon to see what kind of pressure we can put on them."

Dare we say there are similarities between last night's loss and the Flames' Game 6 demise against the Tampa Bay Lightning a year ago in the Stanley Cup final.

After a long journey to Florida, the Flames were out of gas. Hitmen fans can only hope the result is different when their boys unload the bus today in Brandon.


Videos

Photos