When looking back on game three of the second round Western Hockey League series between Calgary and Medicine Hat, there were two very clear reasons why the Hitmen were able to secure a 5-4 win and take a 2-1 series lead.
First, the team was finally able to take advantage of the powerplay opportunities they were given. In the first two games of this series Calgary went 0-for-5 with the man advantage. In game three the team got the same amount of chances, but this time they capitalized scoring three times. It ended up being a huge part of their win.
The emergence of Adam Tambellini in game three was the other big reason the Hitmen were able to gain the victory. Two goals and two assists were the first points of the series for the WHL’s leading playoff scorer. We all knew the Tigers weren’t going to keep him off the score sheet for long and we were all proven right on Monday. The Hitmen have the chance to take a 3-1 series lead with a win Wednesday night on the road in Medicine Hat and there are 5 things to look for in game four.
1. Can the Hitmen continue to be the better team on special teams?
To go along with their success on the power play in game three (their now 3-for-10 in the series), the Hitmen have also been good on the penalty kill. The team has killed off eight of nine Tigers opportunities so far. If Calgary can continue this trend it will go along way in helping them take a strangle hold on this series. Not only have they done a good job penalty killing they have also limited Medicine Hat’s good scoring chances when they have had the power play.
2. Is this only the beginning for Adam Tambellini?
After being held off the score sheet in the first two games, the scoring leader of these WHL playoffs broke out in a big way with a four point night on Monday (2g 2a). It wasn’t surprising at all, but now the big question is, can the Tigers contain him? Was it only the beginning for Tambellini? Or will the Tigers be able to find a way to shut him down? If it’s the former Calgary will be in good shape for another victory.
3. Can the Hitmen overcome what will surely be hostile crowd?
4006. That will be the announced attendance Wednesday night in Medicine Hat just as it is every game. That many people in the building simply known as “The Arena” can often make for a tough place to play for road teams. The key for the Hitmen will be to take the crowd out of the game early just as they did in game one. Not only can they take the crowd out of it and take the heat off of them, they may be able to turn the crowd on the home team. They’re passionate fans in the Hat and aren’t afraid to voice their opinions. The Hitmen would much rather have the negative vibes toward the home side.
4. How much does Medicine Hat’s top line have left in the tank?
Twice in this series the Tigers have been behind to start the third period. That means that Shaun Clouston has been forced to rely, and often double shift, his top line. That takes a toll on players especially in round two of an already long season. Trevor Cox, Cole Sanford and Steven Owre have seen a lot of ice so far, and will likely continue to see a ton more. The question will be how much and what kind of minutes. Playing from behind when you’re trying to tie the game can really wear on a player and that has been the majority of time the Tigers have been playing. Getting a lead in one of these games will help to allow them to maybe rest or not play such hard minutes.
5. Will Marek Langhamer bounce back?
Marek Langhamer hasn’t played bad whatsoever in this series, but you know the goaltender who is one of a final breed in the CHL will want to be better. After allowing three goals on 14 shots in game one and five more in the loss on Monday, the 20 year old Czech Republic native will be looking to steal one for his team. Langhamer is the last European goalie to play in the WHL thanks to the new rule not allowing teams to draft import goalies. He has played in World Junior tournaments and on many big stages. Don’t be surprised if the Tigers win game four and if Langhamer is a big part of it.
Game four goes Wednesday night at 7:00 pm. You can catch the game online by heading to Sportnet.ca/960 and following the link. On Friday night, the Hitmen are excited to celebrate playoff hockey with a special Hitmen & Flames Playoff Party at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The post-season celebration begins at 6:00 p.m. with gave five of the Hitmen-Tigers series. Following the Hitmen game, the playoff party will continue with fans invited to remain at the ’Dome to watch game two of the Flames-Canucks first-round series on the energy board as well as in Dutton’s Lounge and the Chrysler Club.
A special $15.00 Hitmen game five ticket (plus applicable fees) is now on sale via Ticketmaster.ca using promo code PLAYOFFS. Fans have until Friday, April 17, at 4:00 p.m. to secure a seat with this exclusive online offer. Tickets are also available at the Scotiabank Saddledome box office at regular Hitmen game day prices. For more details, visit HitmenHockey.com.
Admission to the Flames viewing party is included with a Hitmen game five ticket. On Friday, the Scotiabank Saddledome box office will be open from 8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. to provide fans with the opportunity to purchase a seat for the Hitmen game and attend the playoff party. Concessions will remain open during the Flames game, with a limited menu available.