Tri-City Americans

Calgary's Broda happy to be facing Ams

CALGARY, Alberta — The last time Joel Broda was at Toyota Center, Tri-City goalie Chet Pickard welcomed him with a bull's-eye on the glass 10 feet above the net with his name on it.

"I wanted it noted that I scored on him that game," said Broda, who played for Moose Jaw at the time.

A quick look at the stats shows that Broda did score, but Tri-City won 3-2.

Pickard is long gone, but Broda, along with his Calgary Hitmen teammates, will be at Toyota Center on Tuesday night for Game 3 of the Western Hockey League finals.

"It's been a couple of years since I've been there," Broda said, "and I'm excited to go back."

The Hitmen lead the best-of-7 series 2-0 after wins of 7-0 and 4-1 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary.

Broda, 20, began his WHL career with the Tri-City Americans, selected in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2004 bantam draft.

He played two full seasons with the Americans, scoring 19 goals with 29 assists in 122 games. He was traded to Moose Jaw just three games into the 2007-08 season for Jason Reese. In 70 games for the Warriors, he had 28 goals and 22 assists.

"Probably the best thing ever for me was for Bob Tory to trade me," said Broda, a 6-foot, 200-pound center. "I got to go to a team where I got a really good opportunity to grow as a player and in a program that allowed me to score goals."

In his second season with Moose Jaw, Broda had 36 goals and 12 assists in 39 games before he was traded to Calgary. He finished the season with 17 goals and 22 assists for the Hitmen and led the WHL in goals scored with 53.

This season, Broda led the Hitmen in goals with 39 and was third on the team in scoring with 73 points.

A native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Broda has been a big part of Calgary's postseason success, leading the team with 13 goals, including one in the 4-1 victory Saturday.

"I played pretty good (Friday night) but didn't quite hit the sheet," he said. "But that's how it goes some nights. You just have to make sure the effort is there."

The Americans won their first U.S Division banner the year they traded Broda. They've now won three in a row.

"Things were really starting to come along when I got traded," Broda said. "It's great because it is a really good hockey community. It's good to see the team have success and I'm happy for the organization to be doing well. But I'm on the other side now. With all due respect, I want to win, but I'm happy they've done well."

The Hitmen are used to playing in front of 10,000 fans at Pengrowth Saddledome, but Toyota Center can be an intimidating place to play for opposing teams, as 4,000 fans can sound like twice that much in the intimate setting.

"I think we have played the whole playoffs in some pretty hostile buildings," Broda said. "Moose Jaw was probably the craziest rink I have ever seen with the atmosphere that was going on and the point in the series it was in. It was a pretty hectic barn to play in. Medicine Hat the same thing, and in Brandon. Tri will be no different. I think the fans will be crazy, but I think we should be able to handle it."

NOTES: Tri-City owners Olie Kolzig and Stu Barnes are asking fans to wear white for a whiteout Tuesday and Wednesday. ... Forget the five goals to get a free burger deal. Burger Ranch owner Ed Mulhausen has changed the promotion to a free burger with an Americans' win during the WHL finals.