Getz Stone-walled

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

There's no doubt Ryan Stone of the Brandon Wheat Kings can put up points.

After all, the Calgarian finished second in league scoring with 99 points this season after potting 33 goals and drawing 66 assists.

But through the first two games of the best-of-seven WHL Eastern Conference semifinal against the Calgary Hitmen, Stone's been sharpening his defensive skills.

Specifically, he and linemates Lance Monych and Derek LeBlanc have been tasked with shutting down the Hitmen's firepower-laden trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Shaun Landolt and Andrew Ladd.

So far, said Stone, no problems.

"We've been pretty good. I think so far they've only scored one or two five-on-five goals against us. It's a pretty decent job, I guess," said Stone, a 6-ft. 2-in., 200-lb. centre who turned 20 last month.

Getzlaf and Co. have indeed scored a pair of even-strength goals through the first two contests so far. The Hitmen captain tallied a brilliant third-period marker in Calgary's 10-1 win to open the series, then Ladd potted the only Hitmen goal in Saturday night's 5-1 loss.

With Game 3 tomorrow at the Saddledome (7 p.m., FAN 960, SHAW TV), look for Wheat Kings head coach Kelly McCrimmon to again try and get Stone and his 'mates out there every time the Getzlaf line takes to the ice, which won't be as easy because the Hitmen get last change at home.

So far Stone's done his utmost to get in the face of his opponents, throwing in the odd late hit or slash at times, just to remind them he's out there.

But Stone, who will have plenty of friends and family at the 'Dome for the next two games, denies he's playing the role of agitator.

"I don't think so. I just want to play good defence against those guys. They're all really skilled, so if we shut down that line, we're better off as a team," said Stone, who is second in playoff scoring with one goal and 13 assists, just behind teammate Eric Fehr's 14 points.

"If they're getting mad or whatever, then hey, but they haven't really taken any penalties on me or anything like that."

Make no mistake, Stone, who was a cut from the Canadian world junior team in December, has a ton of respect for the guys he's going up against. Two of whom, Getzlaf and Ladd, played on that gold medal-winning junior team.

"Getzlaf's just a great player. He's so offensively gifted that when we turn over a puck in their zone, he gets going and if we don't have a back checker, he usually gets a great chance on goal," noted Stone, a Pittsburgh Penguins draft selection in 2003.

"It's a good challenge and if you want to play pro somewhere, you've got to play defence, so this is a test for me and my linemates."

Stone knows success for the Wheaties in Calgary will be dictated by how well his team keeps its emotions bottled up in a hostile environment -- a crowd that will get vocal about the refs.

"For the first couple of periods, we're not going to be afraid to just ice the puck to try keep the crowd out of it," Stone said.


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