Impotent offensive attack puts season on brink

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

KELOWNA -- Where have all the goals gone?

The Calgary Hitmen boasted the most dangerous offence in the WHL during the regular season.

At times, they torched goaltenders just for sport.

Now they're avoiding the opposition twine likes it's the swine flu.

The club's top four scorers -- Brandon Kozun, Brett Sonne, Joel Broda and Kyle Bortis -- combined for 379 points during the regular season.

None of them have found the scoresheet a single time this series.

And if that doesn't change tonight, the season is over.

Bortis gave credit where credit is certainly due: To the Kelowna Rockets defence corps.

"You have to credit their defence," Bortis said.

"They make it very hard for our forwards to get to the front of the net, to the hard areas where you score goals.

"We're getting chances, but we're bearing down on our opportunities.

"It's something we'll take to heart (tonight). Our backs are to the wall."

Carson McMillan, who shares the captaincy with Bortis, said the tight-checking Rockets have given his team less space than any opponent the Hitmen have faced this post-season.

"It's a lot tighter, and there's a lot less open room for our guys," said McMillan, who recently signed an entry-level deal with the Minnesota Wild.

"We need to get behind their D and find ways to put the puck in the net."

With future Buffalo Sabres star Tyler Myers shutting down the Rockets' slot, that's easier said than done.

But the 6-foot-8 behemoth can't play the entire 60 minutes. Nor can he keep every Hitmen forward at bay.

The Hitmen's strength throughout the season was their scoring depth.

An opposing team could try to shut down one or two snipers, but they couldn't contain six or eight.

The Hitmen averaged just shy of 4.6 goals per game during the season.

That number has plummeted to 1.0 in the WHL Championship against Rockets goaltender Mark Guggenberger.

"We need some key goals from some unlikely sources to get the ball rolling," McMillan said.

"We know how to win. We've been winning all year. We know how to score goals.

"We need to keep doing the dirty work to get one by Guggenberger."


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