Wait is finally over

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Bring on the Wheaties.

The Calgary Hitmen, who have been patiently waiting to find out the identity of their next opponent, will kick off Round 2 Friday night in Brandon.

The Medicine Hat Tigers, who survived a seven-game marathon against Red Deer with a 5-4 win in the deciding game last night, will face Prince Albert in the other Eastern Conference semifinal.

Hitmen assistant coach Blaine Forsythe said the high-powered Wheat Kings, the league's top offensive club, poses obvious problems.

"They're not a lot different than Lethbridge," Forsythe said. "They've got a lot of guns who can put you to sleep if you're not careful.

"Obviously Brandon is a bigger team and their front-end guys are a bit more physical."

League-scoring champ Eric Fehr (59 goals and 11 points), Calgarian Ryan Stone (33, 99) and captain Tim Konsorada (29, 87) are three of the top four snipers in the WHL.

It should come as no surprise the Wheat Kings, with all that firepower, have been deadly on the powerplay.

Brandon's PP unit clicked at a league-best 24.2% during the regular season and it hasn't cooled off any in the playoffs, hitting at 26.7% (8-for-30) in the opening round against Moose Jaw.

"That's their bread and butter so the key against them is to be real disciplined," Forsythe said. "You don't want to give them chances on the powerplay because it was the best in the league all year."

And that's a major cause for concern for Calgary, which gave up 25 powerplays in five games against Lethbridge.

On the other side of the coin, the Hitmen penalty killers have been nothing short of sensational, shutting down the 'Canes on 24 of their 25 attempts (96%).

"Our guys are real confident in the ability to kill penalties," Forsythe said. "We did a great job against Lethbridge of getting pucks out and getting fresh bodies on the ice."

Calgary went 1-1-1-1 against the Wheat Kings this season, with two of the four games going to overtime.

Konstantin Pushkarev led the team with four points (one goal, three assists) while Ryan Getzlaf and rookie Keegan Dansereau had three points apiece.

Pushkarev said the Wheat Kings won't be a pushover.

"Brandon is a big team and they have strong offensive guys," he said. "And we have a very long trip -- 14 hours."

The rookie import said he's still getting used to the defence-first style of North American playoffs.

"It was more difficult," he said. "There were a lot of physical, tough games.

"Everyone is playing defence. If they have a chance on offence, they go, otherwise they're always playing D."

Defenceman Dylan Yeo scored a pair of goals in Calgary's 5-3 victory in Brandon on Feb. 4.

Yeo, who was a pillar of strength against Lethbridge, elevated his game in the opening round.

He said while a Hitmen-Rebels series might have been a bloodbath, Calgary and Brandon have no love lost for each other.

"When it comes to the playoffs, it's always a rivalry," said Yeo, whose squad played three consecutive games against the Wheaties in late January and early February.

"They're about the same size as us," Yeo said. "We'll just keep playing the same way we've been playing."


Videos

Photos