Merkley steals the show

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

The scouts came to watch Gilbert Brule.

They ended up seeing a whole lot of Riley Merkley.

The Calgary forward not only completely neutralized the Giants star but scored a second-period hat-trick to lead the Hitmen to a 7-2 pasting of Vancouver last night at the 'Dome.

D-man Darryl Yacboski chipped in with a pair while Ryan Getzlaf and Konstantin Pushkarev had one apiece as Calgary enjoyed its most explosive offensive outing of the season.

Merkley, who had five goals in his rookie season last year, scored his fourth, fifth and sixth of the campaign in the middle frame to put the Hitmen in complete control.

The Blackie product said he would have been content just keeping tabs on Brule, the consensus No. 2 pick in next summer's NHL draft.

"You have to shut him down," said Merkley, who played with Brule at the world under-17 championship last Christmas.

"He's such an unbelievable player. If you give him any room, he'll break out and have two goals.

"But our line did a good job against him and we were able to get a few points ourselves."

With a 3-0 lead, Merkley out-waited rookie 'tender Jordan Kaczmar and scored on the powerplay six minutes into the middle frame.

Three minutes later, the 17-year-old broke in alone, made a deke to his forehand and slid the puck five-hole, ending Kaczmar's night.

"That one move is working pretty good," said Merkley, who has gone between the pads on almost every breakaway opportunity.

"I guess I'll stick with it until it stops working."

After Adam Courchaine got the G-Men on the board, Merkley put the finishing touches on his hat-trick, the team's first this season, with a sharp wrister off the post.

"I saved the puck," said Merkley, who is also expected to go high in next years NHL Entry Draft.

"I won't forget this anytime soon."

Yacboski got the Hitmen started 42 seconds in when he floated a puck over Kaczmar's shoulder on the first shot of the game.

Eight minutes later, from nearly the exact same spot, he threw another seeing-eye snapshot that found the other corner for a 2-0 lead.

"I didn't really see it go in," the 6-ft. 3-in. 218-lb. bruiser said.

"I just thought it worked the first time so there's no harm in throwing the puck at the net.

"The guys are bugging me. I'm not known for my goals so I get a good razzing when they come."

Getzlaf ripped a one-timer into the top corner on the powerplay at the 11:10 mark of the first and Pushkarev and Vancouver's Mitch Bartley traded goals in the third.

The Hitmen, who were 3-for-7 with the man advantage, improved to 10-5-4-1, while the Giants fell to 10-7-0-2.


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