I actually remember when Poltergeist came out... the tag line for the original was "They're Heeeeeere!" and the poster featured the famous scene of little Carol-Anne with her hands pressed to the screen of the family TV which was showing nothing but snow.
The tag line for the sequel was "They're Baaaaack!" and that's a pretty good description to lay at the feet of the Calgary Hitmen tonight after finally showing why they're the #1 ranked team in the nation. The Hitmen beat Kelowna 6-2 to avoid the sweep and now return to Cowtown for Game 5 tomorrow night.
Oilers prospect Alex Plante got the Hitmen on the board just 1:17 into the game, a power play marker which gave Calgary some jump. However, the Rockets scored the next two and you could imagine the feelings on the Calgary bench at that point.
Yet the Hitmen survived a 5-on-3 disadvantage and then struck for 5 unanswered goals to claim the win.
Kelowna had been so effective against Calgary through the first three games that you had to wonder if they might be able to pull off the sweep. As surprising as that might have been this time last week, judging from Games 1-3, it might not have been a stunner.
Yet earlier today I was thinking about the Hitmen roster and how many NHL owned players they have (10) and that for many of them, a loss in Game 4 would have meant the end of the WHL career. To go out on such a bitter note - swept in the league title series... as Game 4 got closer I started getting the feeling that the Hitmen were not going to lose. Too much character, too much pride up and down that roster to go out losing 4 straight.
Winning game 4 is one thing, going on to win the series after being down 3-0 is completely different. At least for guys like Paul Postma (pictured), Brett Sonne, Carson McMillan, Kyle Bortis, Joel Broda and Alex Plante... at least they avoided an embarrassing end to their junior career. A bunch of guys finally got on the score sheet tonight and look like they have rediscovered some long lost confidence which could make the rest of the series a beauty to watch.
On a side note, watching the game on TV tonight I want to comment on the controversial "non-call" where play eventually ended with Calgary's late second period goal. The controversy stems from what may have been a missed Too Many Men on the Ice call against Calgary. With the play in Kelowna's end, Hitmen forward Bostjan Golicic sauntered off the ice and his replacement (I think it was Michael Stone) jumped into the play just as a pass was coming back to that area just inside the blueline.
The player clearly holds up his shot knowing that Golicic hasn't had time to get off the ice yet, he verbalizes a couple 'steamboats' and then steps into his shot. On the replay Shaw TV's Dan Russell says he saw that pass to the point hit Golicic and stay in the zone basically setting up the point blast. After seeing the replay two or three times, I still don't think it hit Golicic... but Golicic is still standing on the ice waiting for the gate to open when the fresh Hitmen player hammers the shot on net.
At the point where the new player contacts the puck, Golicic has both feet on the ice albeit out of the zone and away from the play.
I wasn't in the rink so maybe TV didn't show it well enough on the replays, like Backlund's controversial winner against Vancouver, but for me it seemed like a legal goal. I will be interested to here was Regan Bartel has to say about it though on his blog as his is an opinion I respect and he's not a guy I've ever heard described as a 'blind homer'.
I look forward to Game 5 tomorrow night.