Building rivalry from scratch

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

If rivalries are forged in the playoffs, this one needs to be built from the ground up.

When the Calgary Hitmen and Red Deer Rebels meet, nobody needs to be told to keep their heads up. Same thing can be said about the heated Lethbridge-Medicine Hat clashes.

But the Hitmen-Hurricanes rivalry -- if it can be considered one at all -- has been one of lukewarm dislike as opposed to unabashed hatred.

Overage winger Brett O'Malley acknowledges there really isn't any bad blood between the Central Division foes -- at least, not yet.

"There's definitely more of a rivalry between us and Red Deer or Medicine Hat," O'Malley says. "But I think that's because the last couple of years, Lethbridge hasn't been as skilled as they are now and they've missed the playoffs.

"But any time you meet in the playoffs, it's going to be intense.

"I think you can be guaranteed there will be a rivalry by the end of this series."

O'Malley, who spent the first three-and-a-half seasons of his WHL career with the 'Canes, has witnessed the passive attitude from the southern perspective as well.

"When I was in Lethbridge, we just looked at it as Calgary was kind of there. Medicine Hat and Red Deer were our two rivalries."

Heading back to what is sure to be a sold-out Enmax Centre has O'Malley fired up to kick off his final WHL post-season.

"Just like everyone else in the dressing room, I'm excited," he says. "It might be a little different for me because I used to play there."

Power forward Andrew Ladd doesn't think it will take much to spark a healthy dislike between the two teams, who were within a goal of each other in all six regular-season meetings.

"The last few games have been tight, emotional games," Ladd says. "I'm sure after this series, we'll have something to build on."


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