Hitmen not quite sharp enough to best Blades
'A tough pill to swallow,' says Calgary captain
By Kristen Odland, Calgary Herald
November 21, 2011
Five goals in one game is typically enough to seal the deal.
But Sunday's game against the Saskatoon Blades was, apparently, the exception to the rule.
The Calgary Hitmen found the net early and often, but it wasn't enough to ground the high-flying sixth-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League and they lost 6-5 before 7,787 Scotiabank Saddledome fans.
"No one really loses games when you score five goals," said Hitmen captain Cody Sylvester, who did his best to secure a victory with two goals, an assist and a plus-two rating. "But Saskatoon's a transition team and we turned the puck over a little bit too much.
"Both teams came out pretty strong and guys were excited to play . . . it was kind of a tough pill to swallow."
Especially since the Hitmen (10-10-1-1) had just inched above .500 for the first time since the 2009-10 season Saturday night with a dominating 7-1 win over Prince Albert - their second-straight victory.
And on Sunday, a third win was theirs for the taking after they showed no quit by trading goals with the Blades and establishing a 5-4 lead midway through the second period, thanks to a Jimmy Bubnick backhand.
But mistakes got the best of them.
Saskatoon's Darren Dietz tied things up on a five-onthree power play with just under five minutes to go in the second period while Lukas Sutter netted the game-winner in the third - which was, coincidentally, the Blades' first lead since they went up 1-0 early in the opening frame.
"I thought we played hard," said Hitmen assistant coach Brent Kisio. "But we just had mental breakdowns at times that cost us goals. It felt like we were playing really well. We'd score a goal, but you need big shifts after you score goals and they'd come right back down and score.
"It was a big game against a big team and it would have been a big win."
Instead, the Blades happily boarded their bus with a seventh consecutive victory - fifth straight on the road - and improved to 17-6-0-1.
The defensive miscues happened early and often; and in the second period, it resulted in seven goals scored between the clubs.
Calgary got off to a fantastic start, outshooting the Blades 7-1 at one point. But on their second shot of the afternoon, Jake Trask put the visitors on the board at the 10: 57 mark of the first.
But Bubnick set up Sylvester on a smart two-on-one to tie the score a few minutes later. And, before the period ended, Joe Kornelsen put Calgary up 2-1 on a backhand off momentum generated by Greg Chase and Danny Gayle.
The Hitmen rode the lead into the wild second period, outshooting the visitors.
"It's tough," said Hitmen forward Brady Brassart, who assisted on Calgary's fourth goal by Spencer Humphries in the middle frame. "Going back and forth, goal for goal. When you score a goal, the next shift is the biggest shift to try and keep the momentum up because you know they are going to send their best line to try and regain the momentum.
"We obviously didn't have those shifts tonight."
Also scoring for Saskatoon in the second period were Calgary native Chris Collins and Sutter.
Blades netminder Andrey Makarov, who'll likely play for the Russian junior team at the 2012 IIHF world juniors being held in Edmonton and Calgary, stopped 41 shots.
At the other end, Chris Driedger looked a bit iffy at times, but made 24 saves.
NOTABLES: Calgary scratches were D Keaton Lubin (upper body), RW Brooks Macek (flu), RW Rob Trzonkowski (flu) . . . Saskatoon scratched C Ryan Olsen . . . . The Hitmen head out today on a five-game road trip to Brandon, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Edmonton . . . They'll return to the Dome on Dec. 2 (7 p.m.) to host the Spokane Chiefs . . . The Petro-Canada Teddy Bear Toss game is set for Dec. 3.
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