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Hitmen stay alive in WHL final with 6-1 victory over Rockets

NHL.com @NHL

CALGARY - Joel Broda broke out of his scoring slump in a big way and the Calgary Hitmen fought their way abck into their Western Hockey League final series with the Kelowna Rockets.

After being held off the scoresheet in the first four games of the series, Broda had two goals and an assist as the Hitmen beat the Rockets 6-1 Thursday to stave off elimination for a second straight night.

"I had some chances in other games that I didn't quite bear down on," said Broda, who leads the Hitmen in scoring with 10 goals and 13 assists in 17 post-season games. "It was good to bear down on those and it was good for the momentum of our team."

The Hitmen also won 6-2 on Wednesday night on the road and now trail the Rockets 3-2 in the battle for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, with Game 6 slated to take place at Kelowna's Prospera Place on Saturday.

If necessary, the teams will return to Calgary for a seventh and deciding game on Monday.

Alex Plante had a goal and an assist for the Hitmen, who reeled off 12 straight victories to start their playoff run before losing the first three games of the WHL finals to the Rockets.

"I had some chances in other games that I didn't quite bear down on," said Broda, who leads the Hitmen in scoring with 10 goals and 13 assists in 17 post-season contests. "It was good to bear down on those and it was good for the momentum of our team."

Kris Foucault, Brett Sonne and Rigby Burgart also scored, while Brandon Kozun, Jason MacDonald and Cody Sylvester chipped in with two assists each.

Calgary goalie Martin Jones made 18 saves to improve his post-season record to 14-3.

Cody Almond counted the lone goal of the game for the Rockets, while netminder Mark Guggenberger stopped 44 of 50 shots in second loss in as many nights.

"We haven't been as determined or as structurally sound in these last two games," said Kelowna coach Ryan Huska. "Because of that we're giving them a lot of open ice in the neutral zone and they're using that to their advantage and it's been putting us on our heels more than we'd like to be on. When they push the last two games we haven't had a push back and that's something that we've got to find."

Kelowna defenceman Tyler Myers said the Rockets still have a great opportunity to emerge as WHL champions with a solid performance at home on Saturday.

"We're in a great spot," Myers said. "We've had two rough games here but we've got a chance to win a series at home. We just need to focus on getting back to playing our game."

Just one night an impressive offensive performance in Kelowna, the Hitmen continued their strong play in the first period. At one point in the opening frame, the Hitmen held a 9-1 advantage on the shot clock.

Their hard work paid off when Foucault scored his team-leading 11th goal of the playoffs. Kelowna's Ryley Grantham ran into Guggenberger in the crease and the puck squirted loose to Foucault, who banked it into the net off Grantham's leg.

The Hitmen took a 2-0 lead in the second period when Broda roofed a rebound past Guggenberger during a Calgary power play. After stopping a point blast by Keith Seabrook, Guggenberger also blocked Broda's initial shot before the Hitmen forward cashed in his ninth goal of the post-season.

"We're starting to get shots through from the point and our forwards are doing a good job getting to the front of the net and picking up the rebounds," Seabrook said.

The Rockets pulled to within a goal at 11:10 of the second when Almond took a nice feed from Ian Duval and backhanded a shot into the top corner behind Jones.

Just 89 seconds later, Sonne swatted a rebound from a bad angle past Guggenberger, who made the initial pad save on a shot by Kyle Bortis.

Broda then scored his second of the game when Plante's point shot careened off the boards and out front. With Guggenberger out of position, all Broda had to do was tap the puck into the empty net to put the Hitmen up 4-1.

Plante added a power-play goal for Calgary in the third period before Burgart fought hard to swat a rebound past Guggenberger for his first-ever WHL playoff goal with 2:30 to play in the contest.

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