CALGARY — The Calgary Hitmen can set a Western Hockey League record tonight with their 13th straight playoff victory.
To do that, they’ll have to beat a confident group of Kelowna Rockets in the opening game of the best-of-seven WHL championship series.
“I know we’re eagerly anticipating the drop of the puck on Friday night,” said Hitmen head coach Dave Lowry, whose squad swept the Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Brandon Wheat Kings to win the Eastern Conference championship.
Meanwhile, the Rockets swept the Kamloops Blazers in the first round before ousting both the Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants in six games to qualify for the finals.
“This is a very good hockey team that we’re playing,” Lowry said. “They’re coming off of a huge series with Vancouver. We know that they’re going to be ready to go. For us, it’s a great challenge.”
After notching a hat trick, including the game winner in overtime, against the Giants on Monday night, Swedish forward Mikael Backlund has high hopes of helping the Rockets continue their post-season success against the Hitmen.
“It’s not only me,” said Backlund, a first round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2007 NHL Draft. “It’s going to be our whole team that’s going to be dangerous for them. They’re going to have to look after everybody.”
The Rockets boast the top two scorers in the WHL playoffs in Jamie Benn and Cody Almond, who have put up 28 and 22 points respectively.