Kelowna Rockets Shock Calgary Hitmen At Home, 5-2
Missing: Ammunition for high powered Hitmen assault rifles.
The Western Hockey Leagues' Calgary Hitmen entered the WHL finals unbeaten in this years postseason stringing together a perfect 12-0 record as they cake-walked through the first three rounds of the WHL playoffs.
The streak and aura of intimidation came to a screeching halt over the weekend as the top ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League fell not once but twice on home ice to the Kelowna Rockets to open the best of seven final series.
Friday afternoon the host Hitmen entered the third period tied 1-1 with the Rockets before Tyler Myers scored on the powerplay at 10:14 to go up 2-1 and Jamie Benn scored his second of the game and thirteenth goal of the playoffs into an empty net to seal the victory.
Myers (1g,2a) and Benn (2g,1a) both had a hand in all three Rocket goals.
Saturday evening it was more of the same at the Saddledome as the Hitmen defense is losing it's identity and are more and more looking like the Calgary Flames backend.
Entering the third period tied 1-1, the Kelowna Rockets poured in four third period goals while dominating the final frame for the second consecutive game and went on to win the game 5-2.
Jamie Benn who had a three point night on Friday was knocked out of game after Keith Seabrook nailed him with a bonejarring bodycheck in the first period, Benn did not return.
Calgary Flames prospect and Kelowna Rocket sniper Mikael Backlund had a pair of goals (10,11) including the gamewinner at 5:22 into period three.
The Swedish import Backlund who came over to North America after the World Junior Hockey Championships in January, leaving his Swedish Elite team behind, scored 12 goals in 28 regular season contests to finish the season and now has added 11 more goals in just 15 postseason games for the Rockets.
Rockets goaltender Mark Guggenberger has been phenomenal in the first two game turning aside 55 of 58 shots he's faced. Guggenberger, who came over from Swift Current midway through this season now sports a 31-6-4 record since joining Kelowna. In his previous two stops in the WHL (Portland, SC) Guggenberger's career record was 19-16-1.
His counterpart in this series Martin Jones however has struggled with the games on the line, crumbling for 6 goals against in the third periods of the first two games.....on home ice no less.
The two teams will meet again Monday and Wednesday in Kelowna as the Hitmen will have to find answers on both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice.
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