Hitmen no. 1 with a bullet

SCOTT FISHER

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

The Beasts of the East topped the Best of the West.

In what many pundits consider a preview of the WHL championship, the Calgary Hitmen scored a trio of unanswered goals in the third period last night to beat the Vancouver Giants 6-3 at the Saddledome.

Paul Postma and Bostjan Golicic potted a pair of goals apiece, while Michael Stone and Joel Broda also bent twine, as the Hitmen ran their home unbeaten streak to 18 games.

After his two-goal performance, Postma was asked who is the No. 1 team in the WHL.

"I'd like to say, after tonight's game, hopefully we are," said the Atlanta Thrashers prospect. "That was a heck of a game. I have to give them credit. They're an awesome team, and they came real hard. But it was nice to get the win."

Brendan Gallagher, Mikhail Fisenko and Brent Regner replied for the Giants, who lost in regulation time for just the fourth time this season.

Martin Jones kicked out 27 shots to record his 15 straight 'w' on home ice.

Postma broke the 3-3 deadlock 1:53 into the third period with a near carbon-copy of his first-period marker -- a loose puck slid out to the point where Postma stepped into it and he wired a perfect shot past Giants goalie Tyson Sexsmith's glove.

Golicic also picked up his second of the night just over two minutes later when he cashed in a rebound.

Broda, the WHL goal-scoring leader, gave the Hitmen (39-6-2-1) a three-goal cushion 2:22 after that, burying a one-timer off a nice feed from Ian Schultz.

That sent the Saddledome crowd of 14,244 into a frenzy and started a string of fights.

The Hitmen are back at the 'Dome tomorrow when the Chilliwack Bruins pay a visit (5 p.m., Fan 960).

The Hitmen hit the scoreboard first with 5:46 to play in the opening period.

The puck ping-ponged around the crease during a wild scramble before it hopped out to Postma, who nearly ripped the mesh off the net with a big slapper from the top of the faceoff circle.

Gallagher tapped Lance Bouma's wraparound attempt past Jones to bring the visitors even.

Just eight seconds later, Fisenko rolled a puck through traffic towards the net. The official blew the whistle, but the puck rolled between Jones' pads into the net, and the goal was allowed.

Stone, a Phoenix Coyotes draft pick, tied the game early in the second period when he led the rush down the right side and then unloaded a howitzer over Sexsmith's blocker. His 14th tally of the season extended his points streak to five games.

Regner converted a beautiful three-way passing play on a Giants powerplay to put the visitors back on top.

But Stone ignited the Hitmen again on the next shift when he ran over Gallagher at the Giants blueline. Craig Schira came to his teammates defence and immediately started throwing punches before Stone had even picked himself up off Gallagher.

Stone ended up throwing Schira to the ice to end the bout.

"It was a tough game," Stone said. "They came out hard, but we battled right back and were able to pull it together at the end.

"We'd like to think we are (No. 1), but they have some games in hand.

"So we'll see what happens. We'll see them again, and I'm sure it'll be another big test."


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