Winning ugly

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

Dave Ladd hasn't seen his son Andrew since January. He might not recognize him these days. The Calgary Hitmen power forward's mug hasn't gotten any prettier since the WHL playoffs began last week.

Ladd leads all playoff performers with five goals -- including back-to-back OT winners -- and facial abrasions.

Captain Ryan Getzlaf took one look at his linemate after Game 4 of the Hitmen's quarter-final serties with Lethbridge and quipped: "He's going to be the ugliest guy in the league by the end of this year."

Ladd's dad, who's planning on catching a few games of Round 2 next week, said he's been told of the carnage.

"I hear he's got quite the scarface now," Dave says.

"He's been telling us about all these stitches he's been getting. I haven't seen him but his mother will fill me in when she gets home tomorrow."

Andrew's mom, Kim, drove into Calgary Thursday with nephew Steve Covington's parents.

She had to smile when she took a look at her kid.

"His nose doesn't look too bad," she laughs.

"I was thinking maybe it would be worse.

"He's had more stitches in the last little while ... oh well, it won't kill him."

Only a hockey mom can laugh at facial scars on her child.

Kim was part of a contingent of family and friends who took in Calgary's series-clinching Game 5 OT victory in Lethbridge Friday night.

"There were 11 relatives who came," she says.

"We were very excited, it was pretty cool."

Especially after Andrew worked his sudden-death magic for the second straight game.

But Dave, who was stuck working at home in Maple Ridge, B.C., has been forced to scour the sports networks, praying for Hitmen highlights.

"I saw the double-overtime winner he scored in Calgary," Dave says.

"I haven't seen the other one yet. We seem to get it a day later out here."

Dave has kept tabs on his boy's progress.

"He usually phones after every game, win or lose," Dave says.

"He phoned Friday night and he was pretty excited."

The elder Ladd says he wishes he could have watched his son, the hottest player in the league, during the opening round.

Many players go their entire careers without scoring an overtime goal.

Ladd potted a pair in a span of three nights.

"The last time he did something like that is when he was playing with the bantam A team here," Dave recalls. "They were playing North Van in a four-team tournament to qualify for provincials.

"They were losing 3-0 and he scored three or four goals to win the game.

"That's the last time he's done something like this. But he's never had two straight overtime goals."

His old bantam team, which is just wrapping up its annual Easter tournament, is auctioning off a pair of Ladd and Getzlaf Team Canada jerseys, courtesy of Andrew's brother, who works for a sporting goods store.

There might be a lot more Ladd Hitmen jerseys popping up in Calgary if the 19-year-old continues his miraculous run.

"When things start clicking for him, it tends to go on for a while," Dave says. "But just like any other hockey player, you get in slumps and sometimes you get the bounces and they go in.

"You're probably doing the same thing but some go in and some don't."

The Carolina Hurricanes first-round draft pick didn't have the kind of regular season he expected.

After a 75-point freshman season during which he was selected as a WHL rookie-of-the-year finalist, the sophomore winger dipped to 45 points this past regular season.

That, his dad says, only motivated the 6-ft. 2-in.,

205-pounder.

"He had big expectations because of what he did last year," Dave says. "I think he was a little disappointed with his point production but he also knows he's being checked a lot closer this year. Nobody knew who he was last year, he kind of came out of nowhere.

"Now the checking line is always on him and Getz so he has to work through it because it's going to be that way from now on.

"If there's a challenge, he rises to it."


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