Crash course in playoffs

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

Dylan Yeo has been the windshield.

Opposing forwards have been the bugs.

Time and time again, a salivating opponent has buzzed into the Calgary Hitmen zone, eyed what appears to be an undersized d-man completely at his mercy, charged over to lay out the big hit and ... splat.

The hunter becomes the hunted.

Yeo, who at 5-ft. 11-in. is the shortest of the Hitmen's massive blueline brigade, is also the most solid.

Skilled d-man Dustin Kohn said he gets a chuckle every time Yeo drops an unsuspecting forward.

"He's a rock back there," Kohn said. "Every time someone runs into him, they get winded.

"He's a stocky guy. You see guys take a run at him in the corner and they end up going down.

"I don't know what it is, I think he's got a little bit of man strength."

Yeo, 18, has been asked about his unusual talent in the past. And he still doesn't have an explanation.

"That's been happening since my second year of peewee," Yeo said. "I can't explain it.

"That's a question people keep asking me every year.

"I just take the hit and they fall down."

So, is it brute strength or superior balance?

"Probably both," he said. "My upper body is pretty strong, so that helps a bit, and my balance is fairly good."

When Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio parted with NHL first-round draft pick Andy Rogers in a six-player deadline deal -- which brought goaltender Justin Pogge to Calgary -- with Prince George, many wondered if the blueline would be a little softer.

That hasn't been the case, according to Kohn.

"Yeo was a key acquisition for us at the trade deadline," Kohn says. "He's been solid every night.

"When he was traded here, we didn't know a lot about him because he was playing over in that far division.

"But the more comfortable he's gotten with us, the more he's improved."

Yeo's improved play over the past few weeks has been dramatic.

Content to play his stay-at-home, physical style for the first few months, the Prince Albert product has added a new dimension to his game in the playoffs.

He's blocking shots, jumping into the rush. Heck, he's even scoring goals.

Kisio said the 206-pounder has elevated his game at the right time.

"He's been a workhorse back there," the Hitmen boss said. "He kills penalties and that's exhausting work.

"He's been filling some big-time minutes for us.

"And he's starting to rush the puck and is feeling more comfortable."

There's a simple explanation for his stellar play of late, Yeo said.

He's never experienced life in the post-season.

"This is my first time in the playoffs since I've been in this league," he said. "So it's really exciting to be here.

"Seeing the kind of team we have here and knowing how good we can be, it's awesome.

"Everyone has to step their game up in the playoffs and I think I've done that lately.

"There's always room for improvement but I just have to keep things simple."


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