Getz goin'

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:55 AM ET

RED DEER -- It's the kind of game Ryan Getzlaf needs to regain his captaincy. His standing among the WHL's elite, too.

Undoubtedly a linchpin of the Calgary Hitmen, Getzlaf was stripped of his leadership letter a few weeks ago but his performance last night proved why he was given the 'C' in the first place.

And why he should be considered one of the best players -- if not the best -- in the Western Hockey League.

From the drop of the puck of the WHL all-stars' 6-0 shellacking of the Russia Selects before 6,443 fans at the Red Deer Centrium, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks prospect proved how dominant he can be.

"Everybody knows what he can do out there and he showed it tonight," said Hitmen teammate Andrew Ladd, who scored twice in the one-sided affair, Game 5 of the CHL's Canada-Russia Challenge. "I'm used to him always making plays like that, working on the backcheck and stuff like that. Maybe they're not as fancy but I'm used to seeing the simple plays all the time."

The player-of-the-game award went to Medicine Hat's Stefan Meyer but the skater with the biggest impact from start to finish was certainly Getzlaf.

Take his first shift.

Getzlaf created a couple of chances by pouncing on loose pucks and feathering perfect passes.

Second shift meant more of the same and with the result the all-stars wanted.

Having already made a few things happen in the offensive zone, he stripped the puck from a Russian defender trying to skate the biscuit out of the zone and the flurry finally ended with Ladd scoring.

By the end of the opening frame, Getzlaf proved he can do the job on the defensive side, too, first by covering for a defenceman caught up ice and then breaking up a rush.

Finally in the second period, he got in on the scoring spree by deflecting Shea Weber's point shot for a powerplay goal of his own.

The last offensive performance came in the third when Getzlaf again set up Ladd for an easy powerplay tap-in.

"That's the best game to play in right there. It's the top guys in the league and you have fun with it," Getzlaf said.

And among it all came a big test which he passed with flying colours, likely making Hitmen brass happy.

A slash to the wrist late in the second period -- usually cause for retaliation throughout this season -- was shaken off without incident other than making sure all was fine by the time he got to the bench.

Seeing as those retaliations are what got him in trouble in the first place, it's a big step in the right direction.

"On the road trip, we sat down and talked about it," he stated. "At the start of the year, I was getting frustrated and we're just trying to take it from here."

Not to say Getzlaf was last night's only standout.

Seeing as the Russian Selects are more of a 'B' squad -- and a far cry from what will be iced at the upcoming World Juniors -- the WHLers overpowered the visitors by simply taking advantage of a crew of butter-soft defenders.

All the WHLers seemed to have golden chances.

Eric Fehr of Brandon tallied twice, with both goals assisted by Calgary kid and Wheat Kings teammate Ryan Stone. Mike Green, another Stampede City product, also registered a helper. Meyer added a goal for the WHL.

At the other end, life was much easier for the Canadian netminders.

Cochrane's Jeff Glass of the Kootenay Ice had a light load while making 11 saves over the opening two periods. His best save came when he denied Nikolai Lemtyugov on a shorthanded breakaway late in the first period.

Prince Albert's Rejean Beauchemin stopped six shots to split the shutout.

- - -

WHL: 6

RUSSIA: 0


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