Duval works OT magic

SCOTT FISHER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

CRANBROOK -- Game 7. Overtime.

It's the kind of situation dreams are made of.

Ian Duval lived the childhood fantasy last night in Cranbrook.

The Calgary Hitmen centre took a gorgeous saucer pass from linemate Robin Figren, skated in alone and roofed the sudden death winner.

Duval's goal 7:01 into overtime gave the Hitmen a 3-2 victory over Kootenay in Game 7 of their WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final.

"I swear to God, I blacked out there for a minute," Duval said, explaining his highlight-reel winner.

"I do it in practice all the time so I transferred it into a game this time.

"It was pretty thrilling to get that for the boys. I thought we worked really hard tonight and deserved to get the win."

Dylan Yeo and Brett Sonne scored second-period goals for the Hitmen, who move on to face the Brandon Wheat Kings in Round 2 starting tomorrow night.

No one can accuse the Hitmen of taking the easy road.

They had a 3-1 series lead over the favoured Kootenay Ice before losing two straight to force a winner-take-all showdown at the soldout Cranbrook Rec Plex.

Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio said he was almost -- but not quite -- sorry to see the series come to an end.

"It was an outstanding game," Kisio said. "Almost every game was outstanding this series.

"It's too bad one team has to go home so soon. Obviously, I'm glad we're moving on but it's too bad a quality team like that has to go home."

The Hitmen attempted to sit on a 2-1 third-period lead but Kootenay, the highest scoring team in the WHL, notched the equalizer eight minutes in when Steve DaSilva scored his second of the night and fifth of the series.

That set the stage for an entertaining overtime that saw both teams nearly end it on several occasions.

Hitmen 'tender Dan Spence made 31 saves as Calgary sent the CHL's sixth-ranked team to the sidelines.

Their seasons may have been on the line but neither team came out tentative.

Kootenay enjoyed the better of the opportunities in a scoreless first period but Yeo started the scoring at the 13:20 mark of the second stanza.

With the freshly formed trio of Brodie Dupont, Ryan White and Freddie Pettersson applying continuous pressure, Yeo, the Hitmen captain, snapped a shot that was deflected past Taylor Dakers' blocker.

The Hitmen were back for more 52 seconds later.

Steve Covington fed Sonne, who had his backhander stopped by the 20-year-old Dakers.

But Sonne circled the net, found a loose puck lying in the crease and poked it in for his first of the post-season.

The Ice got their sellout crowd back into it with 2:40 to play in the period when DaSilva -- who else? -- redirected a Lukas Bohunicky point shot past Spence.

The Hitmen outshot Kootenay 16-10 in the frame and led 24-22 after 40 minutes.


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