CALGARY - Matt MacKenzie wanted the Calgary Hitmen to start strongly against the Tri-City Americans in Game 1 of the Western Hockey League finals on Friday night.
The Hitmen defenceman helped make that happen after following up an early breakaway goal by Cody Sylvester with a pair of power-play goals 49 seconds apart in the first period.
That propelled the Hitmen to a convincing 7-0 win over the Americans in the battle for the Ed Chynoweth Cup and a berth in the Memorial Cup in Brandon.
"Once we got that first goal and got the second one and then we kept rolling," said MacKenzie, who now has six goals and 10 assists through 18 playoff games. "That's the thing I really wanted is to have a really good start to the series. That's what I focused on all week in practice is just getting that early jump in the first."
Misha Fisenko had two goals and one assist while goalie Martin Jones stopped all 26 shots he faced as the Hitmen jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"For the most part, we kept them to bad angles and I was able to see a lot of pucks," said Jones, who recorded his second shutout of the post-season. "From that aspect we did a real good job. Not having turnovers at either blue-line was big for us because they're such a fast team and good off the rush."
Brandon Kozun finished the contest with a goal and an assist, while Ben Wilson also scored.
"I thought it was a lot closer game, especially early on, than the score indicated," said Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson. "Both teams had that feeling out period that's pretty typical when you don't see each other much. Fortunately we were able to score on the chances that we did generate and that was the difference."
After being named the Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Week on Wednesday, Tri-City netminder Drew Owsley had a rough outing against Calgary as he gave up four goals on nine shots by the 10:52 mark of the first period. Alexander Pechurskiy replaced Owsley and made 11 saves the rest of the way.
"That wasn't a great game for our team without question," said Tri-City head coach Jim Hiller. "The odd thing is that I thought we started all right, but the breakaway goal got them momentum and got the building into the game. Then of course the two quick power-play goals really set us behind the eight ball."
Tri-City captain Jarrett Toll vowed that the Americans will bounce back with a better effort in Game 2 in Calgary on Saturday night.
"It's about as big of a wake-up call as you can get," Toll said. "We started out slow and got down 3-0. We didn't have enough guys answer the bell after that. The good thing is that we get to play tomorrow and we're not a team that's going to quit."
Sylvester opened the scoring for Calgary six minutes into the game when he tucked a shot though Owsley's pads on a breakaway.
MacKenzie followed that with a pair of power-play goals 49 seconds apart before Fisenko scored to mark the end of Owsley's night.
Kozun and Fisenko scored in the second period, extending Calgary's lead to 6-0. Late in the second, Tri-City defenceman Brock Sutherland almost got the Americans on the board when his point shot was redirected in front before deflecting wide off the post.
Wilson scored his first-ever WHL playoff goal to round out the scoring in the third period.