Tri-City Americans

Hitmen show no mercy on Ams in Game 1

CALGARY, Alberta -- The Tri-City Americans were playing on the biggest stage of their careers Friday, and nothing went right from the drop of the puck.

Matt MacKenzie and Misha Fisenko scored two goals each and Martin Jones stopped all 26 Tri-City shots as the Calgary Hitmen trampled the Americans 7-0 in Game 1 of the Western Hockey League finals before a crowd of 10,980 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

The series, which features the No. 1 seeds from the Western and Eastern conferences for the first time since 2002-03, continues tonight with Game 2 in Calgary.

Games 3 and 4 will be Tuesday and Wednesday at Toyota Center.

"That wasn't a great game by our team," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "The odd thing is I thought we started all right, but the breakaway goal got them momentum and the two power-play goals put us behind the eight ball.

"From there, I thought we had some shots, but we didn't generate much offensively, which typically isn't our style."

In their first trip to the WHL finals in the franchise's 22 years in the Mid-Columbia, the Americans found themselves in a 4-0 hole after the first period and down 6-0 after two.

It's only the second time this season Tri-City trailed by six or more goals. The first was a 7-1 loss to Regina on Nov. 21 at Toyota Center.

"We got down 3-0 and we didn't answer the bell after that," said Tri-City captain Jarrett Toll. "Good thing is we get to play (today). We're not a team that's going to quit. We are not satisfied just making the finals."

Even with the lopsided score, Calgary coach Mike Williamson noted that there was room for improvement from his team.

"Fortunately in the first we were able to score on our chances," he said. "The second period I thought we were quite sloppy. The third, we buckled down and played a lot more sound. We know it will be tougher (today). We are happy to get this one."

Calgary, playing in the WHL finals for the second straight year, got a pair of first-period power-play goals from MacKenzie sandwiched by tallies from Cody Sylvester and Fisenko for a 4-0 lead.

Sylvester opened the scoring at 6:08 on a breakaway, sliding the puck under Drew Owsley's left pad.

MacKenzie scored his two just 49 seconds apart for a 3-0 Calgary lead. The first was a blast from the point, while the second came from a shot just inside the left faceoff circle.

Fisenko was able to get around Tri-City defenseman Brock Sutherland and sweep the puck around Owsley and in the net at 10:52. That was the end of Owsley's night -- he was replaced by Alex Pechurskiy, getting his first action since Game 3 of the first round against Chilliwack.

Calgary's Brandon Kozun, who leads the playoff scoring with eight goals and 20 assists, gave the Hitmen a 5-0 lead at 5:28 of the second period, going top shelf on Pechurskiy in the slot.

Fisenko scored his second of the night at 19:40 of the second, redirecting a shot by Del Cowan from the left point.

Ben Wilson finished the scoring at 15:12 of the third with his first goal of the playoffs.

"We know what we did wrong. We just have to correct those mistakes and battle harder (today)," said Ams defenseman Brett Plouffe.

Jones, who was named WHL goaltender of the year Wednesday, posted his second shutout of the playoffs.

"For the most part, we kept them to bad angles and I was able to see a lot of pucks," Jones said. "Not having turnovers at either blue line was big for us, because they're such a fast team."

The Americans outshot the Hitmen 26-23 on the night and were 0-for-5 on the power play.

"I thought our power play, which has been really good for us all year really struggled," Hiller said. "I thought Calgary put a lot of pressure on us. We need to be better on loose pucks, and we will be. We haven't lost two games in a row in the playoffs, and every time we've lost we've come back with an excellent effort."


It only takes one look to see how the Saddledome got its name. Its roof curves in the middle like the seat of a well-worn saddle.

Built in 1983, the Saddledome is home to the Calgary Flames, the Hitmen and the Roughnecks (National Lacrosse League), but it also is a prime venue for concerts, conferences and other sporting events. Depending on the event, the Saddledome can seat more than 19,000 people.

The attendance here for Game 1 of the WHL finals between the Americans and Hitmen was 10,980.

The Saddledome features a huge video board over center ice. There are big screens on all four sides and smaller screens on the upper half, not to mention the scoreboard. The video is clear and the color is sharp.

On the concourse, there is a vast array of places to eat, beer stations (a cold one will run you $7.50) everywhere you look and the rest rooms are plentiful. It's reminiscent of the concourse at Spokane Arena, but with more of everything.

Unlike Toyota Center, which has one price for every seat, the Saddledome has numerous levels and prices. For a Flames game, you will pay anywhere from $228 (plus tax) for club seating, to $33-37 for a seat in the third level.

For the Hitmen-Americans game, tickets ran from $23 to $43 (plus tax).

-- Fisenko and Pechurskiy are from the same hometown -- Magnitogorsk, Russia. ... Tonight's game will start at 7 p.m. PDT because the Roughnecks are playing the Edmonton Rush at noon in a lacrosse match.