Amerks shellshocked by Hitmen

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:21 AM ET

The WHL Championship kicked off Friday night.

Too bad no one told the Tri-City Americans.

The Americans failed to answer the bell in a shocking 7-0 collapse against the Calgary Hitmen in the series opener at the Dome.

A dejected Americans coach Jim Hiller didn’t know where to start when asked for his thoughts on his club’s Game 1 faceplant.

“Do you really need them?” Hiller asked with a mirthless grin.

“That wasn’t a great game for our team, without question.”

No, it certainly wasn’t.

And there wasn’t much the Americans could take from Game 1 and use to build on for Saturday night’s Game 2.

They were out-goaltended, out-hit, outworked and, obviously, seriously outscored.

The powerplay came up empty. The penalty kill gave up two crushing goals in less than a minute in the first period.

The embarrassing end result should fuel the Western Conference champions’ desire for redemption in Game 2.

But Hiller said he wasn’t sure if the beating would be easier to recover from than a tight loss would have been.

“I don’t know,” Hiller said. “We haven’t lost 7-0 before. But we’ve lost and we’ve come back.

“Our powerplay, which has been really good for us, struggled. Calgary put a lot of pressure on us. But, more importantly, we have to be better on loose pucks. And we will be.

“We haven’t lost two games in a row in the playoffs. Every time we’ve lost, we’ve come back with an excellent effort.”

Americans captain Jarrett Toll said the Hitmen didn’t do anything that took his squad by surprise.

“Not really, no,” Toll said. “We knew they were going to come out fast and play physical and that’s what they did.

“We knew what they were going to do. We just didn’t stop it.”

Toll, whose team has yet to beat Calgary Martin Jones in two games dating back to the regular season, said a different Americans squad will hit the ice Saturday night.

“We’re not a team that’s going to quit,” Toll said. “If anything (losing) 7-0 was a huge wakeup call for a lot of guys.

“It’s about as big a wakeup call as you can get.”

Hiller said he would decide Saturday which goaltender to start in Game 2. Starter Drew Owsley got the hook after surrendering four goals on nine shots Friday night.

“We don’t have to make that decision right now, but (Owsley) has been great all year.

“It wasn’t a great game for him.”


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