Hitmen lucky to be good

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

Perhaps No. 13 isn't so unlucky after all.

The Calgary Hitmen had two lengthy winning streaks end at a dozen games earlier this season.

Yesterday, they reached 13.

But it didn't come easily.

Brett Sonne potted the game winner with 6:50 to play in regulation time as the Hitmen beat the Brandon Wheat Kings 5-4 at the Saddledome.

Kyle Bortis, Broda, Michael Stone and Ian Schultz also scored for the Hitmen, who lead the best-of-seven WHL Eastern Conference final 2-0.

Game 3 goes tomorrow in Brandon (6 p.m., Fan 960).

"Our start wasn't as strong as we wanted," said Sonne, after his club overcame a pair of two-goal deficits.

"But we came together at the end and worked for it."

The Hitmen have now won a franchise-record 10 consecutive playoff games.

Matt Calvert, Brayden Schenn, Jay Fehr and Calgary Flames prospect Keith Aulie replied for the Wheat Kings, who were looking to become the first visiting team to get two wins at the Dome this season.

Hitmen coach Dave Lowry said he wasn't surprised at all by the improved performance from the Wheat Kings, who were shelled 9-3 in the series opener.

"We expected (the Wheat Kings) to come out and be a better hockey team, and they were," Lowry said. "They pushed the pace and put us on our heels early on.

"But, to our guys' credit, we showed some resiliency. We stuck with it and got better as the game went on."

Wheaties captain Aulie gave his team a 4-3 lead with a third-period powerplay goal.

But Schultz deflected a chest-high shot past Brandon starter Andrew Hayes at the 10:54 mark to tie the game.

The Wheat Kings appeared intent on atoning for their embarrassing performance in Friday's loss as they dominated the opening period.

Calvert grabbed a rebound, showed great patience and then put it into an open net to give the Wheaties their first lead of the series.

The visitors had an opportunity to build on their lead, but thanks to great work from Hitmen defender Matt Mackenzie, the home side killed off a two-man disadvantage that lasted 1:15.

Schenn showed off the skill that will make him a high pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by diving and sweeping the puck between Hitmen starter Martin Jones' pads for the visitors' second goal.

The 2-0 hole was the largest deficit faced by the Hitmen in the post-season.

Bortis got the hosts on the board when he banked a centring pass in off Brandon defender Colby Robak on a Hitmen powerplay.

Fehr picked up his first goal with 4:08 to go in the period.

But Broda made it a one-goal game 36 seconds later when he took a Bostjan Golicic pass, went to the backhand and beat Hayes.

Jones robbed Wheaties winger Andrew Clark with a big glove save in the final minute of the period, and the Hitmen tied the game seconds later on Stone's incredible individual effort.

The Phoenix Coyotes draft pick faked a slapper, went around Calvert, took a shot from a sharp angle, picked his rebound, went around the net and stuffed the puck home.


Photos