Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Not Dead Yet

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.


mark said...

I found this on Alan Caldwell's "Small thoughts at large" Blog:

"This is rule 74.1 from the WHL's online rulebook:

74.1 Too Many Men on the Ice - Players and goalkeepers may be
changed at any time during the play from the players’ bench provided
that the player or players leaving the ice shall be within five feet (5') of
his players’ bench and out of the play before the change is made.
If in the course of a substitution either the player(s) entering the
play or the player(s) retiring is struck by the puck accidentally, the play
will not be stopped and no penalty will be called.

So, since both Calgary players were within five feet of the bench, it was a legal substitution. And since the player who was leaving the ice had his back turned when he was hit by the puck, it was clearly an accidental touch of the puck and therefore the play should not be stopped and no penalty assessed."

Vik said...

Even though Dan Russell was going on about how it should've been too many men because the puck hit Golicic, that's not what the problem was (as someone eventually pointed out to him). From the WHL rulebook...

"If in the course of making a substitution, either the player entering the game or the player (or goalkeeper) retiring from the ice surface plays the puck with his stick, skates or hands or who checks or makes any physical contact with an opposing player while either the player entering the game or the retiring player is actually on the ice, then the infraction of 'too many men on the ice' will be called."

As Guy said, Golicic was not yet on the bench when Stone or whoever it was hammered the shot. So it was too many men.

Doogie2K said...

One down, three to go.

I'm nervous as hell, doubly so because I can't make it to the game tonight (damned virus), but I figure if ever there were a junior team that could pull the ol' Leafs-Isles-Sox comeback, it's these guys. If they play three more games like that, they can do it; if they let up for even a second, though, they're toast. Tall order, but with the more rested team, and with Benn out to injury...there's hope.

Actually, I'd be satisfied either way with a complete game. There always seemed to be someone out of position or not paying attention or flubbing the puck at an inopportune time (Plante on the play that led to the PP that led to the game-winner in G1; Jones for the entire first half of the third period of G2). If they lose a hard-fought game and leave it all out there, I'll be happy with the finish. If they have another inconsistent effort like they've shown too often this post-season, but only recently been burned by, well, they'll have had it coming.