Filling the blanks

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Kelly Kisio has a bone to pick with his scouts. "My scouts are doing too damn good of a job," the Hitmen GM-coach quipped yesterday as he struggled to put together a lineup.

Due to international tournaments, Kisio will be without six regulars tonight when the Hitmen host the Red Deer Rebels (7 p.m. at the 'Dome).

Snipers Ryan Getzlaf and Andrew Ladd are with the Canadian national junior team while youngsters Karl Alzner, Keegan Dansereau, Ryan White and Daniel Spence are taking part in the World Under-17 Championship in Lethbridge.

"All the teams are in the same boat, for the most part," Kisio said. "We've all lost bodies, quality players who eat up a lot of valuable ice time."

The Hitmen have called up 2004 draft picks Brett Sonne and Alex Plante to plug a few of the empty holes, giving the team 10 forwards and seven defencemen (including Andy Rogers, who is a game-time decision). Nick Armand will back up Scott Bowles between the pipes.

Sonne is tied atop the scoring race in the Pacific International Junior B Hockey League with 15 goals and 40 points in 32 games with the Port Coquitlam Buckeroos.

Fifteen-year-olds are allowed to play five games in their draft year.

Sonne will be suiting up for his fourth WHL tilt while Plante will see action for the third time.

"They'll see a lot of ice time," Kisio said. "When they're here, they play."

The Rebels will also be short a half-dozen skaters with four players (Dion Phaneuf, Colin Fraser, Roman Wick, Mikko Kuukka) at the world juniors and two more (Eric Frere and RW Jordan Knackstedt) at the U-17 championship.

Red Deer, which will be without GM-coach Brent Sutter (world juniors), called up left-winger Devon Leblanc.

With the Central Division as tight as it is and the Hitmen playing their next four games against the teams directly ahead of them in the standings, this is the worst possible time to be missing their top players.

"The kids have really stepped up and played well and now they're off to the under-17," said Kisio, whose club will host Medicine Hat Sunday.

"Now it's time for other guys to step up. We'll see who can."

Further complicating matters for the Hitmen is the defection of centre David Jacobson, who left the team this week to return to the MJHL's Selkirk Steelers.

The 19-year-old, a veteran of 122 WHL games with Kelowna, Everett, Regina, Vancouver and Calgary, played just three games with the Hitmen.

"From what he tells me, he felt when the rest of the guys came back, he wouldn't be in the same boat as he was before with other teams," Kisio said.

"So he decided to ply his talent somewhere else. It's too bad, he was playing pretty well for us."

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MISSING POINTS

Calgary and Red Deer head into tonight's tilt both down six men, both looking for secondary scoring. Note: Calgary is also missing G Dan Spence

CALGARY HITMEN

                      

GP G A P G%

Ryan Getzlaf 33 19 16 35 17.9

Andrew Ladd 33 11 13 24 10.4

Ryan White 30 6 4 10 5.7

K. Dansereau 21 2 4 6 1.9

Karl Alzner 35 0 5 5 0.0

Totals 152 38 42 80 35.8

RED DEER REBELS

Roman Wick 33 18 15 33 18.0

Colin Fraser 30 9 19 28 9.0

Dion Phaneuf 22 11 10 21 11.0

Mikko Kuukka 32 1 15 16 1.0

J. Knackstedt 24 1 0 1 1.0

Eric Frere 18 0 0 0 0.0

Totals 159 40 59 99 40

* G% -- percent of team goals scored


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