Right back on the horse

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:55 AM ET

So much for rest and recovery. Calgary Hitmen Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Ladd, Jeff Schultz and Brett Carson went into these matchups against the Russian Selects after having been on the road nearly two weeks and playing seven WHL games.

If that's not enough, they will rejoin their Hitmen teammates when they play host to Prince George Saturday and the Saskatoon Blades the next day.

Here's the total: 11 games in 10 cities through two provinces and two U.S. states in 17 days.

"We got a couple of hours of sleep (Tuesday) night," said Getzlaf. "Three hours or something like that. It's tough but that's OK.

"It's tiring and takes a toll on the body when you're on the road that long and play that many games but this stuff is fun. We'll get together with all these guys and have some fun."

The Hitmen played Tuesday night in Vancouver, flew home early yesterday morning, attended a pre-game skate at the Don Hartman North East Sportsplex in Calgary and then headed on a bus with their WHL all-star teammates to last night's tilt in Red Deer, Game 5 of the CHL's Canada-Russia Challenge.

Undoubtedly, fatigue will be a factor but not an excuse.

"They're a lot younger than you and I, so they'll be able to handle it," said WHL head coach Brent Sutter.

Besides, facing the Russian squad is a big thrill.

"The adrenalin's going because this is my first international experience," Carson said. "I don't think I'll be that tired. It'll be tough but I can get through it."

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PHANEUF RARIN' TO GO: It's something of an inside joke that Dion Phaneuf may as well be an honorary Sutter.

Coached by Brent Sutter in Red Deer and drafted by the Flames GM-head coach Darryl Sutter (who forgot the hug when the teen reached the stage that day), Phaneuf is all but adopted by hockey's first family.

Even the way he answers questions about his health shouts out Sutter.

Queried exactly what kept him out of the lineup for nearly a month -- there were reports of a collar-bone injury, separated shoulder or even a concussion -- Phaneuf replied with a grin: "Upper body."

The Calgary Flames No.-1 prospect admitted it was a shoulder injury that put him on the sidelines, a spell during which the Red Deer Rebels lost five of eight games.

"It was one of the toughest things in my career," Phaneuf said. "To sit out eight games felt like 72."

With his second world juniors upcoming, Phaneuf has a fun immediate future but it's a common belief he'd be skating for the Flames if there wasn't a lockout.

"There was disappointment at the start of the season but I'm not disappointed to be back playing in Red Deer. I'm playing during the lockout and am having a good time," he said.

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SUTTERS TOASTED: All six of the NHL Sutters will be honoured prior to tonight's game in Lethbridge. Brian, Darryl, Duane, Brent, Rich and Ron all played in Lethbridge en route to the NHL.

Brent was asked when the last time they all were together on the ice.

"Probably Christmas when we were kids," he said.

Too bad they won't be able to lace 'em up together.

"Yeah, we can't beat the (heck) out of each other," he quipped.

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ICE CHIPS: Calgary product Ryan Stone said upwards of 20 family members trekked to Red Deer for the game ... Nigel Dawes and goaltender Jeff Glass were fogged in and couldn't get out of Vancouver yesterday morning, so the Kootenay Ice duo missed the early skate. However, both made it in time for the game.


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