Hitmen hoping for some bounces

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Kelly Kisio knows what it's like for a hockey team to get some bad bounces.

The former NHLer and Calgary Hitmen head coach has seen his club endure its fair share of bad luck this season, including some tough breaks against the Kootenay Ice.

So, as the Hitmen get ready for tomorrow night's first playoff game against the Ice (ShawTV, 7 p.m.), he's hoping the hockey gods are singing a different tune.

"It's been a funny season that way. We've had a lot of those types of games and it wasn't just against Kootenay," said Kisio.

"Pucks going off toes at the last second and into the net or shots going wide and then getting into the net. I could probably pick out 10 or 11 times when that hurt us and you hope it's going to turn around for us."

There were some classic examples of bad karma against Kootenay this season.

On Feb. 3 in Cranbrook, Mike Busto scored a phantom powerplay goal with no time left on the clock as neither the green light nor red light went on but the referee still awarded the tally and the Hitmen lost 4-3.

Prior to that, Busto again got lucky during a January tilt at the Saddledome as one of his point shots pinballed in a couple of directions before ending up in the back of the net. That was an overtime winner, also on the powerplay, as the Hitmen fell 3-2.

Kisio's a believer in making one's own luck and he knows his squad has to bear down to have things go its way.

"You cross your fingers that the hockey gods will be with you but first of all you've got to be going to the net and getting pucks at the net," Kisio said.

Hitmen goaltender Dan Spence, who will be making his first playoff start, said the bad luck has to change sometime.

"They've been lucky with a couple of bounces, so we're definitely owed," said the 19-year-old.

"It's our turn for the bounces after they got a couple of cheap goals during the season."

Kootenay went 6-2 against the Hitmen but with the playoffs being a new season, that record can pretty much get thrown out the window, along with -- the Hitmen hope -- the bad luck.

HIT PARADE:

It's the third time the two clubs have met in the playoffs and both times previously (Calgary in 1999 and Kootenay in 2000) the series winner has won the WHL championship ... Kootenay D Michael Busto led the Ice in goal-scoring against the Hitmen with six tallies, while F Ryan Russell posted 14 points .


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