WHL stars set for rematch

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Hopefully, the Russians bring their 'A' team this time.

That's what four members of the Calgary Hitmen want after being named to the Team WHL all-stars for the second RE/MAX CHL Canada-Russia series.

Forwards Andrew Ladd and Ryan Getzlaf, along with blueliners Jeff Schultz and Andy Rogers, were among the 23 players selected yesterday by the WHL.

Last year, the Russians lost both games -- 4-1 at the Saddledome and 7-1 in Brandon, Man. -- against the best Western juniors in Canada. The Hitmen players are hoping for a little more competition.

"It would be nice to see more of what they're going to bring to the world juniors," said Getzlaf, who scored a pair and assisted on the game-winner in last year's 4-1 victory. "But they're going to bring whatever they feel is necessary, I guess."

The WHLers play the Russian Selects in Red Deer at the Enmax Centrium Dec. 1 and in Lethbridge Dec. 2 at the Enmax Centre.

Schultz, Rogers and the rest of the Hitmen attended the Saddledome game last year as fans.

"From what I saw last year, they were a little weak. Maybe they will send a stronger team but maybe they won't," said Rogers, 18, a Tampa draft pick who hails from Calgary. "Either way, it should be good competition."

Schultz played on Canada's under-18 world championship club in Belarus last April, where the Red and White lost 5-2 to Russia in the semis.

Schultz, a Washington Capitals prospect, also thought last year's Russia Selects would be more of a challenge.

"When we played them in Belarus, they had a lot more skill," Schultz said. "And seeing that Canada-Russia game, there was no comparison."

The series, which includes a total of six games (in Quebec against QMJHL stars and Ontario versus OHL stars) will give head coach Brent Sutter and Hockey Canada officials a better handle on prospects for the junior national team.

For Ladd, the Russia games present another opportunity to show Sutter he belongs on that squad. After being injured at this summer's junior development camp, the 18-year-old knows the Red Deer Rebels bench boss will be in full evaluation mode.

"You'd think with the number of times we play Red Deer in the season, he'd know what I'm all about," said Ladd with a smile.

"But it's definitely another shot to showcase what we can do."

Joining the four Hitmen is Calgarian Ryan Stone, who plays for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Stone was tied for the league lead in scoring with 16 points prior to last night's action. Also making the club is Calgary Flames blueline prospect Dion Phaneuf, who plays for Sutter's Red Deer Rebels.


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