A fourth to be reckoned with

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

On most nights, the less noticeable they are, the better.

A team's fourth liners usually sneak onto the ice once or twice a period, hoping for an inconspicuous shift where the puck stays out of their net.

That's not the story with the Calgary Hitmen, whose fourth liners log regular ice time.

Still, they rarely steal headlines.

Last night, the club's unsung heroes -- Darryl Moscaluk, Riley Merkley and Keegan Dansereau -- drew heavy praise for their tireless effort that turned the game around.

Captain Ryan Getzlaf called the hard-working trio the best players on the ice during Calgary's 3-1 win over Brandon in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

"It was pretty evident the way they controlled the puck down low and generated a lot of chances and momentum," Getzlaf said. "That's what we need out of those guys."

Brandon hit the board first in the opening frame but it was the muckers who stole the momentum away from the Wheaties on the next shift.

Buzzing around in the Brandon zone, cycling the puck and driving to the net, they had the crowd roaring.

And, before the shift was over Dansereau drew a penalty. Shaun Landolt scored on the ensuing powerplay and the Hitmen were off to the races.

Co-coach Dean Evason had a chat with his fourth line prior to the game and asked them to give more.

Merkley, who could have had a hat- trick with any kind of puck luck, said his teammates were fired up.

"Deano told us we had to come out and be the momentum line and get our team going," Merkley said.

"I thought we did that real well. Keegan and Mosc were playing great. We kept the pucks in, getting some chances and drawing some penalties. If the fourth line can do that, fire up the team and draw some penalties, it helps."

Seeing that the line was dominating every time it hit the ice in the opening frame, Evason and Kelly Kisio continued to send them over the boards.

And the trio continued to respond.

"Kiss and Deano were rolling 'em," Merkley beamed. "But when everybody's playing well, you can roll the lines all night."

Moscaluk wasn't interested in dissecting how well the line played.

"We just tried to create as much energy as we could," Moscaluk said.


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