Better late than never -- and it pays off!

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Don't tell Rigby Burgart his goal was meaningless.

It was the last one in a 6-1 blowout as the Calgary Hitmen dominated the Kelowna Rockets in Game 5 at the Saddledome last night.

But it was also a first -- his first WHL playoff goal.

The memento was tucked neatly into his suit pocket, and he quickly pulled the puck out when asked where it was before hopping on a chartered plane bound for B.C.

"It was pretty special," said the 18-year-old enforcer. "First goal. First series I've played in, too."

Burgart's time on the ice has been limited. He's there to prevent trouble.

Somehow, he started it after jamming the puck past Rockets goalie Mark Guggenberger with 2:30 left on the clock.

Joel Broda, who finished with a pair of goals and a helper, took the play to the net. Parked in front, Burgart finished it off after a few attempts with a Rocket player draped all over his back.

"I gave it one last shot as I was falling down," said Burgart. "I saw it go into the back of the net and kind of just grabbed the first guy I saw and started celebrating.

"It was the wrong guy."

It was Rockets defenceman Aaron Borejko, who had been trying to prevent the stocky winger who played last season in the BCHL from further embarrassing the visitors.

"He got a little mad, got a scrum going."

That's an aspect of the game the 5-foot-10, 215-pounder is more accustomed to.

It's that hard work and gritty reputation that had teammates so thrilled he could contribute on the scoresheet -- in the WHL championship series, of all places.

"It's so great. The guy sacrifices so much for the group night in and night out. Coming in the lineup, or being out of the lineup, he's a huge part of our team," said Broda.

"Seeing him get rewarded like that at the end, it's just an inspiration to all the guys on the bench.

"You couldn't be happier for the guy."

Hitmen head coach Dave Lowry sent him out on the ice for a fourth time -- his first appearance in the third period -- with the idea of giving Burgart some extra ice time.

The payoff was bigger than he probably expected.

"This is a kid who didn't play in the first three rounds. He's been a very good player for us, an effective player for us in the finals," said Lowry.


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