The effort was there. So were the chances.
But the result certainly wasn't.
Trying desperately to avoid a Game 7 in Cranbrook, the Calgary Hitmen played their best game of the Eastern Conference quarter-final last night at the 'Dome.
They outshot the visiting Kootenay Ice 39-22, drew nine powerplays and carried the play for the majority of the game.
Their reward? Another bus trip back to B.C. where they'll play for all the marbles in tomorrow's Game 7 (7 p.m., Shaw TV, The Fan 960).
Steve DaSilva's second goal with 3:52 to play in regulation time stood up as the winner as the Ice staved off elimination for the second straight outing with a 4-3 win in Game 6.
Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio knows his club will be hard-pressed to come up with a finer effort.
"I thought we played a hell of a hockey game," Kisio said.
"We outshot them and outchanced them by a large margin.
"They were just able to capitalize on their chances."
The Hitmen battled back from a 3-1 deficit with third-period goals from Game 4 overtime hero Keegan Dansereau and Robin Figren.
But DaSilva, who has been brilliant in this series, broke the Hitmen's hearts with his third of the post-season.
Kootenay 'tender Taylor Dakers turned in another excellent performance and caught a couple of breaks.
Hitmen winger Brodie Dupont hit the post with 30 seconds to go and Kootenay d-man Chad Greenan sprawled in the crease to keep Freddie Pettersson's rebound attempt out of the net.
Alex Plante, making his return to the lineup after missing 18 games with an elbow injury, also scored for the Hitmen while Calgarian Kevin King and Clayton Bauer helped extend Kootenay's season.
This is the fourth straight post-season the Hitmen will play in a winner-take-all showdown.
Recent history isn't on their side. The club's season came to an end the last four times a series has gone the distance.
Prior to bowing out to the Moose Jaw last spring, the Hitmen blew a 3-1 series lead (sound familar?) and lost Game 7 in Brandon.
The Red Deer Rebels (2004) and Swift Current Broncos (2002) also gave Calgary the boot, both times on the road.
The Hitmen beat the Broncos in 1998 and the following year tripped up Kootenay en route to the WHL crown.
Calgary centre Ryan White said now is not the time to panic.
"We just have to relax and keep playing our game," White said. "It's been a good series so far and we've been doing the little things right.
"We'll go in there, work hard and see what happens."
Kootenay lost d-man Mike Busto, an Eastern Conference First Team All-Star, five minutes into last night's game with an apparent left knee injury. His status for tomorrow's tilt is uncertain.
Penalties -- Russell Ktn (hooking) 6:23, Sonne Cal (roughing) 9:47, Negrin Ktn (holding) 17:00.
1. Cal, Plante 1 (Dupont, Alzner) 1:27 (pp)
2. Ktn, King 1 (Maxwell, Bohunicky) 3:20
3. Ktn, DaSilva 2 (Russell) 3:48
4. Ktn, Bauer 1 (unassisted) 10:35
Penalties -- Kurceba Ktn (hooking) :35, Pettersson Cal (tripping) 4:52, Plante Cal (delay of game) 6:02, DaSilva Ktn (interference) 6:04, Bohunicky Ktn (checking from behind) 12:52, Bohunicky Ktn (holding) 18:14.
5. Cal, Dansereau 2 (White, Alzner) 2:21 (pp)
6. Cal, Figren 1 (Pettersson, Plante) 11:21
7. Ktn, DaSilva 3 (Greenan, Negrin) 16:08
Penalties -- King Ktn (holding) 1:43, Mercer Cal (hooking) 5:56, Plante Cal (hooking) 7:18, Negrin Ktn (interference) 13:42, Dansereau Cal (interference) 14:06, White Cal (tripping) 14:38, Maxwell Ktn (tripping) 15:10, Duval Cal (holding) 16:32.
SHOTS ON GOAL
Kootenay 8 10 4--22
Calgary 17 12 10--39
Goal -- Ktn: Dakers (W,3-3); Cal: Spence (L,3-3).
Powerplays -- Ktn: 0-8; Cal: 2-9.
ATT -- 7,577