Round #3, Game #4: Brandon Wheat Kings vs. Calgary Hitmen

What a difference 24 hours can make. A day ago the mood around the Calgary Hitmen was glum as they faced the reality of potentially going down 3-0 to the Brandon Wheat Kings. Today they wake up with new life and the prospect of potentially tying this best-of-seven series with the Wheaties thanks to 2-1 overtime win in game three.

Despite being down by one after 40 minutes of play, and having a goal called back, the Hitmen didn’t get down or change their game plan, and in the end it paid off. Calgary deserved to win, as from start to finish they did everything they needed to do and now find themselves right back in the Eastern Conference Finals. They now have a chance to even things at two tonight, and here are some things to look out for.

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Adam Tambellini….what more can you say?

I don’t want to toot my horn here, but before game three I said if the Hitmen are going to get back in this series, with the players they are missing, Adam Tambellini was going to need to find yet another level. Well, after game three it’s safe to say he found that level. Tambellini scored both goals for the Hitmen in Tuesday’s overtime win, and could’ve had many more. It’s no surprise to anyone with the team that he was able to do this, as his play on the ice and leadership off the ice has reached new highs this postseason. Tambellini now leads the WHL playoff scoring race with 12 goals and 25 pointss. Don’t be surprised if his name comes up again before game five.

How long can Brendan Burke remain the number one goalie?

Some people will tell you that you need a number one goalie to have success in the postseason. None of those people would be affiliated with the Calgary Hitmen. The Hitmen have rode hot streaks of both Mack Shields and Brendan Burke at different times these playoffs and so far it has worked. It seems that when guy stumbles the other is there to pick the team up and carry the mail. That was the case in round one when Burke was injured and again in game one of this series when Shields stumbled out of the gate. Burke took over half way through that game and since then has been spectacular. In game two he stopped 44 of 46 shots in an overtime loss. Last night he stopped 33 of 34 in an overtime win. He was there when called upon and no doubt earned himself the start in game four.

Stay out of the box

In game one of this series, emotions ran high and the Hitmen lost control of the game. In game two, they were much better and the game was close. In game three, Calgary gave the Wheat Kings just two powerplay opportunities and it went a long way in getting the victory. The Wheaties have no shortage of offensive talent so they don’t need powerplays to help them. Staying out of the box has been huge the last couple of games and will once again be a factor on Wednesday night. The less penalties the team takes the much better chance we will see this series head back east tied at 2-2.

A long trip is ahead regardless of what happens

Regardless of the outcome of game four, both these teams will board the bus and make the 11 hour trip to Brandon, Manitoba for game five. If you’re the Hitmen, that long overnight journey will feel a lot better knowing you’ve put yourself in a best of three situation rather then facing elimination in a very tough rink. That scenario is something the Hitmen can use as motivation for game four. Wanting to make that bus trip as enjoyable as possible will go a long way in Calgary coming out of the gate flying tonight.

Game f0ur is set for tonight night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Sportsnet 960 The Fan has a full one hour pregame show starting at 6:00 pm with puck drop just after 7:00 pm. We know there will be a game five Friday night in Brandon. Sportsnet 960 The Fan has a half hour pregame show starting at 6:00 pm with play-by-play coverage at 6:30 pm.

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