Kisio nabs a puck-stopper

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

Kelly Kisio got his man.

But it wasn't the guy everyone expected. The Calgary Hitmen GM-head coach has been shopping for a goalie for the past month and feels he fulfilled his wish with Justin Pogge.

Kisio acquired the 18-year-old 'tender from the Prince George Cougars in a blockbuster six-player swap at the WHL trade deadline yesterday.

Joining Pogge in Calgary is overage winger Tyrel Lucas and 18-year-old defenceman Dylan Yeo. All three will be in the lineup tomorrow night when the Saskatoon Blades visit (7 p.m., 'Dome).

However, the trio didn't come cheaply as the Hitmen shipped goalie Scott Bowles, 18, blueliner Andy Rogers, 18, and 20-year-old Lee Zalasky to the Spruce City.

"We wanted to upgrade our goaltending," Kisio said. "Scotty played great in some games and OK in others. We just needed some consistency there and this should do it. And (Pogge) will be here again next year too."

Kisio and his Red Deer Rebels counterpart Brent Sutter both held discussions with Regina about trading for troubled puckstopper Dustin Slade, who was sent home by the club last month.

The Pats, however, failed to get a deal done and Slade, who ripped GM Brent Parker yesterday for holding him back, will join the BCHL's South Surrey Eagles.

Other high-profile goaltenders such as world junior backup Rejean Beauchemin (Prince Albert) and Calgary product Kyle Moir (Swift Current) also were rumoured to be available.

"Everyone knows Beauchemin's name was out there but (the Raiders) didn't want to move him," Kisio said. "Pogge is a big guy and handles the puck like (former Hitmen Barry) Brust did, like a defenceman, and we like that in him.

"He's a calm guy in there and I think that's what our guys need."

The 6-ft. 3-in., 183-lb. Pogge has a 10-9-2 record and 2.80 GAA this season with the Cougars, nearly identical numbers as Bowles (15-12-4, 2.78 GAA).

Kisio said on the eve of the trade deadline he wasn't confident a deal would get done.

The stumbling block was Kisio's unwillingness to part with Rogers, a 2004 first-round draft pick of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

"He's a great kid and a very good hockey player," Kisio said of the 6-ft. 5-in., 210-lb. Calgary product. "At the end of the day, you have to give up something to get something. And we felt our defence was strong.

"We thought by getting Yeo back -- obviously there's a size difference but he plays hard and moves the puck well -- we could make it work."

Yeo is certainly smaller than the behemoths Kisio usually stocks on his blueline. But the 5-ft. 11-in., 186-pounder brings more offensive touch.

While Pogge is clearly the centrepiece of the deal, there will be pressure on Lucas to pick up the offensive slack left by Zalasky's departure.

Zalasky finished third in team scoring a year ago with 20 goals and 48 points and was also third this year (11 goals, 25 points).

Lucas, who was once listed by the Hitmen, enjoyed his finest WHL campaign in 2003-04 with the Lethbridge Hurricanes when he notched 14 goals and 42 points in 68 games.

"He's only a few points behind (Zalasky)," Kisio said of Lucas, who has nine goals and 21 points in 36 games this season. "He's a good skater and puckhandler. He can play anywhere up front and I think he'll fit in well with our club. They needed a winger and we needed a centreman so it just made it a good deal for both teams."


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