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Kelowna beats the Calgary Hitmen 3-1 as Rockets grab 1-0 lead in WHL final

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CALGARY - After taking a moment to enjoy his game-winning goal, Tyler Myers immediately switched his attention to the task at hand.

The defenceman also had pair of assists to help Kelowna Rockets to a 3-1 win over the Calgary Hitmen in the first game of the Western Hockey League final Friday.

"It definitely felt good to get that game winner," said Myers, who faked a shot from the point before blasting the puck past Calgary goalie Martin Jones on a third-period power play.

"It's definitely nice to come in on the road and get the first game and it feels good, but right now we need to focus on Game 2."

The Hitmen had reeled off a record-tying 12 straight playoff wins before losing to Kelowna on Friday in front of 12,364 fans at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

"They got the bounces that we didn't get," said Calgary's Carson McMillan, whose squad will host the Rockets again on Saturday night.

"I don't think we as a team worked hard enough to get those bounces. Next game we've got to bring our 'A' game and we've got to bust our butts all game and hopefully those bounces come."

Jamie Benn scored twice, once into an empty net, and added an assist for the Rockets to give him a league-leading 31 points in the post-season. He also established a new franchise mark for points in the playoffs by a Kelowna player, breaking the previous record of 28 set by Jesse Schultz in 2003.

"We know we can beat them, but they're a good team," Benn said. "They're going to give a strong effort every night. We've got to come in there and do the same."

Paul Postma scored the lone goal for the Hitmen, who hadn't lost at the Pengrowth Saddledome since a 2-1 setback to the Rockets in their final home game of the regular season Feb. 28.

Kelowna goalie Mark Guggenberger stopped 28 of 29 shots to improve his record to 13-4 in the post-season.

"You really have to give credit to Mark Guggenberger," Myers said. "He played amazing for us."

Meanwhile Calgary netminder Martin Jones made 18 saves as he lost for the first time in the playoffs.

Benn opened the scoring in the first period on a Kelowna power play when he fired his WHL-leading 12th goal of the playoffs between Jones' legs. Calgary nearly tied the game in the dying seconds of the period, but Brett Sonne's backhand shot just grazed off the far post behind Guggenberger.

The Hitmen continued to pour on the pressure in the second period and outshot the Rockets 14-5.

Their hard work paid off when Postma tied the contest with his fifth goal of the playoffs.

"We were on our heels a lot," said Kelowna coach Ryan Huska. "I think it was a lot to do with the way Calgary was playing. We're fortunate to get this first game in a very tough building to play in."

Later in the period, Hitmen defenceman Keith Seabrook sent Benn falling backwards to the ice with a thunderous check in the Calgary zone.

Benn got his revenge in the third when he set up Myers for the game-winning goal at 10:14.

The Hitmen had a great chance to tie the game when Kelowna forward Mikael Backlund took a holding penalty at 17:41 of the third period. On the ensuing power play, Seabrook fired a point shot off the post, before Guggenberger made a great glove grab on a shot by Kyle Bortis to preserve the victory.

"Yes we are a disappointed hockey team, but this was the first game that we have lost in 13 playoff games," said Hitmen coach Dave Lowry. "I know that our guys will come back tomorrow and we will start from scratch again."

After Game 2 on Saturday, the series will move to Kelowna for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday.

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