D-men shining

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

First it was Jeff Schultz stepping up with a whale of a contest for the Calgary Hitmen in Game 3.

Then, in Wednesday's 3-2 double-overtime victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes at the 'Dome, Dylan Yeo and Brett Carson took their turn shining for the Hitmen's young defence corps.

Yeo checked everything in sight, blocked shots, cleared traffic in front of goaltender Justin Pogge and jumped up in the rush as the Hitmen staked themselves to a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven WHL Eastern Conference quarter-final.

For his efforts, Yeo earned the camouflage battle helmet from his teammates as their player of the game. It's a tradition akin to the green hard hat the Calgary Flames doled out last season.

Carson, at 19 the oldest Hitmen blueliner with Darryl Yacboski out due to a shoulder injury, scored Calgary's first goal Wednesday and played solid defence the rest of the way.

With Game 5 tonight in Lethbridge (7 p.m., FAN 960) and the Hitmen looking to punt the favoured 'Canes, maybe it'll be Karl Alzner taking his game to another level on the Hitmen blueline, or Dustin Kohn, who chuckled when asked if it was his turn.

"Maybe. It's a part of the playoffs to pick your game up like that," said Kohn, who has two assists and is plus-3 in the series so far.

"With the atmosphere in the building, it was very exciting -- very loud and very exciting. Those guys took it upon themselves to have big games."

Kohn, who hails from Edmonton and is only in his second campaign with the Hitmen, scored eight goals and added 35 helpers during the regular season.

With injuries on the blueline all season, the smooth-skating defenceman's gotten plenty of ice time and said he feels like a seasoned veteran.

"Yeah, I do. I feel comfortable out there, pretty confident but you don't want to get scored on in the playoffs. That's the key," said the 6-ft. 1-in., 185-pounder.

"Lethbridge is a good team. We were down 3-1 against Red Deer and battled back to make it 3-3 last year and went into their building for Game 7. But that's something we don't want to have happen with Lethbridge this year, so we have to come out with a good effort tonight."

The Hitmen couldn't pull it out against the Rebels in 2004, falling 4-3.

And like Schultz, Yeo and Carson, Kohn has the ability to turn a game around with a timely tally or a pinpoint pass to set up a goal.

Young Alzner, 16, doesn't have a WHL goal under his belt yet but with the law of averages, he's bound to get one sooner rather than later.

Yet the Burnaby, B.C., kid isn't about to change his steady, stay-at-home style of play, although he'd love to wear the helmet after tonight's game.

"I hope so. Every night I'm trying to step up by doing what I can but I don't want to get off my game by doing anything out of the ordinary," said Alzner, who has lately been paired with ever-improving 15-year-old Alex Plante.

"I just try to pitch in by getting the puck out and getting the puck to our guys."

That's just what the steady blueliner has done, while keeping his mistakes and turnovers to a minimum, which has gone a long way for the Hitmen so far against Lethbridge.


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