Covington contributed to collapse

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:26 PM ET

Steve Covington had to learn the hard way but he vows the lesson's sunk in. The Calgary Hitmen sparkplug took an ill-timed, retaliatory slashing penalty at 17:28 of the third period Friday night against Red Deer.

The Rebels' Roman Wick converted the powerplay chance -- with 1:33 remaining -- completing a come-from-behind 2-2 tie against the Hitmen.

For Calgary, it was another blown lead, something that's dogged the club all season.

As for Covington, he'll shoulder part of the blame for what happened against Red Deer.

"A penalty's a penalty and you've just got to take it but it'll never happen again," said the 6-ft., 178-lb. winger from Maple Ridge, B.C.

"I feel a little bit responsible. You take a penalty like that, you've got to 'fess up and take responsibility, so it's my fault and I can't let it happen again."

With their final home game of the regular season on tap today (Saddledome, 2:30 p.m., The Fan 960) against the Kootenay Ice, the Hitmen know they need to exorcise those late-game demons.

The demons have been lurking since the start of the season.

On Sept. 24 in Red Deer, Calgary carried a 4-1 lead into the third period but ended up on the losing end of a 5-4 OT decision.

Then, in the Hitmen's home-opener, also against the Rebels, Dion Phaneuf's goal with 4:11 left gave Red Deer the come-from-behind tie.

And the list goes on and on ...

The Hitmen are 24-1-7-3 when tied or leading after the second period.

The opposition has outscored Calgary 65-56 in the final frame, the Hitmen's worst period of the season.

Rookie forward Ryan White, who's mired in a 17-game scoring drought, is philosophical about the late-game collapses.

"We can't control what the ref is going to call in the last couple of minutes. We can just control what we do on the ice," said the 16-year-old centre, who has 23 points in 60 games.

"A lot of times, it's just the wrong bounce and hopefully we can get out of this thing before the playoffs.

"With hard work, the bounces will come. We're going to keep working hard and hopefully get the bounces and the goals late in the third period when we take away the games coming down the stretch."

The Hitmen (33-22-9-5) have three games left in the 2004-05 campaign and can finish no better than third, their current spot, in the Central Division, meaning they'll begin the post-season on the road.

Red Deer is in fourth place.

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SICK BAY: There's good news and bad news on the Calgary Hitmen injury front.

After blocking a Dion Phaneuf slapper, 20-year-old F Brett O'Malley had an X-ray done on his foot and it was negative. Once the swelling subsides, he should be back on skates.

D Darryl Yacboski re-injured his left shoulder Friday and it's up in the air as to how long the rugged rearguard will be out but don't be surprised if it's a while.

D Dylan Yeo (knee) could be back next weekend, while F Roman Tomanek (shoulder) is skating but hasn't had any contact in practice.


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