Alex makes D most of it

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

Alex Plante had a choice to make.

Sit at home and wait for a trade that may never come.

Or report for duty with the Calgary Hitmen.

He chose the more productive second option.

And by all appearances, any past disagreements he may have had with Hitmen management seems to be water under the bridge.

The big blueliner was dominant last night as the Hitmen blanked the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers 4-0 at the 'Dome.

"This is where I wanted to be," said the Edmonton Oilers prospect, who had an assist, a scrap and was a pillar of strength on the back end.

"Obviously, a couple of things happened over the summer. I was focused on Oilers camp first. I wanted to make a good impression with them because they didn't see me all of last year (because of injury).

"Then, when we re-evaluated, ultimately it was my decision. I came down and talked with Dave (Lowry, head coach) and we were on the same page."

Mackenzie Royer, with his first career WHL goal, Kyle Bortis, Brandon Kozun and Michael Stone scored for the Hitmen (4-2-0-0), while Dan Spence kicked out 19 shots for the shutout.

Neither team could find the back of the net in a subdued opening period, although Bortis clanked one off the crossbar with less than a second left on the clock.

But the Hitmen sniper started the scoring parade 1:35 into the middle frame.

With Calgary on the powerplay and another delayed penalty upcoming to the visitors, the Hitmen sent out the extra attacker for a 6-on-4 advantage.

They controlled the puck for an extended period of time before Bortis redirected Paul Postma's point shot past Bengals starter Ryan Holfeld.

It was the first powerplay goal the Tigers surrendered this season, breaking a 24-for-24 streak.

Royer picked up his first later in the period. The rookie stepped out of the penalty box, stabbed a perfect Plante pass at the far blueline, walked in alone and shelved a wrister under the bar.

"It feels pretty good," the Spruce Grove, Alta., freshman said. "The first thing I thought of was my family.

"They're not here but they were watching on TV, so I'm happy."

Hitmen fans who missed last night's game may have missed the nicest goal they could hope to see all season when Kozun went to work in the dying seconds.

The little winger took a puck in the slot, gave Tigers defender Mark Isherwood the ol' 'how's she going?' and then went to the roof from in close to give the Hitmen a 3-0 lead.

The 6,476 in attendance gasped in disbelief as the replay was shown on the Jumbotron.

Stone concluded the scoring with a third-period howitzer on another powerplay.

The Tigers came into the game with the Western Hockey League's top-ranked powerplay, but came up empty on six chances.

Spence, who has started every game this season, said he had a good vantage point to watch what was a complete effort from his squad.

"Our special units were really firing tonight," he said. "We kind of set the bar here tonight.

"That's what we need every night."

HIT PARADE

The win puts Calgary atop the Central Division standings, although Red Deer and Medicine Hat each have a game in hand. Lethbridge, which visits the 'Dome tomorrow (7 p.m.), has played two less games.


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