It's a 'Caning!

Calgary Hitmen's Ryan Getzlaf brings the puck up the ice against the Lethbridge Hurricanes during...

Calgary Hitmen's Ryan Getzlaf brings the puck up the ice against the Lethbridge Hurricanes during first period WHL action in Calgary Tuesday, March 29, 2005. (Calgary Sun/Al Charest)

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

The big 'Dome crowd provided the blackout.

The Calgary Hitmen delivered the knockout.

Andrew Ladd scored a pair, Riley Merkley and Jeff Schultz chipped in singles and Justin Pogge booted out all 21 shots he faced as Calgary blanked the Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-0 last night.

The Hitmen, who dominated from start to finish, grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final.

Game 4 goes tonight at the 'Dome (7 p.m., The Fan 960).

Ladd, who leads the team with three goals in the post-season, said the team is starting to feel good about itself.

"When you're burying goals, it definitely gives you some confidence," Ladd said.

"But it's just one game and the bounces went our way.

"Tomorrow's another day and we have to come out with the same kind of effort."

Captain Ryan Getzlaf, who made a perfect 2-on-1 pass on Ladd's third-period tally, said the 16,291 fans, largely decked out in black, played a big role in the outcome.

"The crowd was wonderful tonight and the guys came out hard," Getzlaf said. "When you get that kind of backing, it pumps you up even more."

Merkley got the party started on Calgary's second shot on goal at the 7:21 mark of the opening period.

The sophomore centre came down the right side on a 2-on-1, used linemate Darryl Moscaluk as a decoy and fired a wrister under the blocker arm of 'Canes netminder Aaron Sorochan.

The Hitmen went up two-zip 35 seconds later. Brodie Dupont absorbed a big open-ice hit from Kyle Pess but managed to keep the puck in the 'Canes zone.

Rookie Ryan White dug it out of the corner and sent a soft pass out to the top of the circles where Schultz stepped into it and ripped a slapper short side on Sorochan.

Calgary GM/head coach Kelly Kisio said he was pleased with the effort but wouldn't go as far as to say it was perfect.

"We did some good things and we did some real average things," Kisio said.

"They had some chances to score but Pogge was real good when he had to be.

"But, for the most part, we kept their clear-cut chances to a minimum.

"And against a powerful team like that, that's pretty good."

Calgary's top line provided the Hitmen with a three-goal cushion early in the middle frame.

Shaun Landolt sent a weak backhander on net that Sorochan turned aside but Ladd jumped on the rebound and trickled a shot inside the post.

Lethbridge coach Lindsay Hofford had seen enough and yanked Sorochan, who gave up three goals on eight shots, in favour of Calgary product Scott Bolland.

Lethbridge managed just five shots in the period but Pogge made a pair of big stops with 2:40 to go, shooting out the right pad twice in less than a second to rob Ken Petkau and Mark Olafson.


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