Keller trick kills crowd

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 5:17 PM ET

First, the good news.

The Calgary Hitmen did manage to score. The bad news? They didn't do it enough.

Justin Keller scored all three goals for the Kelowna Rockets as the visitors escaped with a 3-2 overtime victory last night at the 'Dome.

The defending WHL champs snapped a seven-game losing streak to improve to 23-11-1-1.

"We talked about breaking this slide we've been on," Keller said. "The only way it was going to happen was with work ethic."

Craig Lineker and Brodie Dupont scored Calgary's first goals in nearly two weeks but the Hitmen couldn't hold onto a late 2-1 lead and dropped their season-high third-straight game.

"We knew Calgary lost (Wednesday) night to Vancouver but they're a great team and they weren't going to back down," Keller said. "Whenever a team loses a few in a row, you know they'll come out hard so our game plan was to match them."

Calgary (26-10-1-0), which failed to produce a goal in the previous two games, moved to within three points of Central Division-leading Medicine Hat. The Hitmen have three games in hand.

Dupont gave the Hitmen a 2-1 lead at 7:14 of the third when he surprised Kelowna starter Derek Yeomans with a high wrist shot from the right boards.

Calgary appeared as though it would snap its two-game slide but Keller scored his second goal of the game with just 19.5 seconds left in regulation.

Keller capped off his Hitmen-killing hat-trick on the powerplay with 1:47 left in overtime.

Set up to the left of Hitmen 'tender Daniel Spence, the Tampa Bay Lightning prospect one-timed a Tyler Spurgeon feed for his 30th of the season.

Keller has more goals than the Hitmen's top scorer has points (Freddie Pettersson, 24).

The loss was Calgary's first in seven games this season that have gone to extra time. A disappointed Dupont said there were a few things the team could build on.

"You have to look at the positives. We scored some goals," Dupont said half in jest. "I thought we battled hard."

The Hitmen spoiled another solid performance from Spence, who has given up six goals in regulation time in the past three games -- and lost them all.

"It's probably more frustrating for him," Dupont said. "He's giving us a chance to win every night. Those last two games, we didn't even score a goal for him. He's playing real well but it would have been nice to get his confidence up by getting him a win."

Thanks to a trio of early penalties, the visitors managed just one shot on goal through the opening 15 minutes. But it ended up in the back of Calgary's net.

On a delayed penalty to the Hitmen, Kyle Cumiskey threw a shot towards the net that deflected off Keller's leg and past Spence at the 32-second mark. Calgary, with five regulars out of the lineup, lost captain Brett Carson early in the first period with an undisclosed injury.

Lineker scored his first goal in a Hitmen jersey 4:10 into the middle frame. The Calgary product took a long-range wrister that deflected off a Kelowna defender and into the net.

- - -

KELOWNA ROCKETS: 3

CALGARY HITMEN: 2

OVERTIME


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