Third man in

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

Ryan Getzlaf is the captain and undisputed star of the Calgary Hitmen show.

A lethal combination of flash, skill and size, he's the captain and the kingpin.

Andrew Ladd is the prototypical junior hockey power forward.

He uses brute strength to get to the cage for his goals.

Oh yeah, he's also the hottest player in the city, having scored back-to-back overtime winners to move his club to the second round of the playoffs.

But in the eyes of Hitmen co-coach Dean Evason, the third part of his team's top line is the straw that stirs the drink.

That's right, the third wheel so few know or can name -- Shaun Landolt -- is the one who makes it all come together.

"He provides the spark," Evason says.

"They're all physical guys but most nights he's the one leading that."

With the way Getzlaf and Ladd took over the opening-round series, in which the Hitmen ousted Lethbridge in five games, Landolt may as well be the unknown soldier.

Not that the Cloverdale, B.C., product will grouch.

After all, he has a front-row seat to one of the best shows on ice. And he's playing his part quite nicely.

"I'm happy to be there and happy to help them out. It's the position I've been put in," he said. "If I'm in the right place, I'm going to get the opportunities. I just play the way I know how. If I get on the scoresheet, I do. If I don't, I don't. I'm not going to complain about it."

Sure, with a goal and an assist so far in the post-season, Landolt may not be as much of an offensive star as his linemates but that doesn't mean his contributions aren't of merit.

First of all, at 6 ft. 2 in. and 202 lb., the 20-year-old centre is as much of a physical presence as Getzlaf

(6 ft. 4 in., 210 lb.) and Ladd (6 ft. 2 in., 202 lb.).

It's one reason the Hitmen dispatched the smaller Hurricanes so quickly, Getzlaf said.

"Last game, Shaun hammered Mark Olofson. He took a penalty but that set the tone for the game," Getzlaf explained. "And Brent Seabrook, we played against him every single shift and he got hit every time."

That's just one skill Landolt brings. Another important one is his ability at the faceoff dot. Evason said Landolt's winning percentage at the dot is 60%.

Landolt, a fifth-year WHLer, also has some personal motivation.

Having been drafted by Toronto in the eighth round, 237th overall, in 2003, he's still playing for a contract with the Maple Leafs. And if they don't come calling with a deal in hand, Landolt says he knows there are 29 other NHL teams on the lookout for a two-way centre.

""The further we go in the playoffs," Landolt said, "the more it helps me out."

But that aspect of the game is on the periphery.

Evason has seen plenty of players over his years and knows not all are able to check their ego.

"That's why he's been successful with those guys -- he doesn't care about that attention," Evason said. "He's a team guy, doesn't whine about ice time or complain about points. He just plays the game and that's why he's such a good complement to those guys."


Videos

Photos