Schultz needs to stand tall now

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

With the Calgary Hitmen blueline corps missing two key cogs, Jeff Schultz is ready to kick it up a notch.

The Hitmen can close out their WHL Eastern Conference semifinal tonight (Saddledome, 7 p.m.) against the Brandon Wheat Kings and Schultz wants to lead the charge from the blueline.

The towering 19-year-old can make a big difference if he steps up like he did in Game 3 against the Lethbridge Hurricanes, a contest he dominated, helping Calgary win 4-0.

The lanky 6-ft. 7-in., 215-pounder said that's just what he's planning on doing.

"We're down with Brett Carson out, so the young guys need to get some energy from my play and hopefully they can pick up their play," said the Calgarian, who has played in every contest this season, including playoffs.

"The first couple games in this series, I kind of got lackadaisical and wasn't playing up to my potential. But the last three, I've picked it up and hopefully the guys can build off what I've been doing out there."

With the concussed Carson and Darryl Yacboski, who underwent shoulder surgery last week, out of the lineup, Schultz and defence partner Dustin Kohn are the top duo on the Hitmen blueline.

That means they've drawn the assignment of shutting down Eric Fehr's line in the series, which Schultz relishes.

"They're putting us to work out there. They're big and they're fast too, so it's a good workout for us and I think we've been doing a pretty good job," said Schultz, the Washington Capitals' first-round pick in 2004.

Through the post-season, Schultz is plus-4 and logging all kinds of ice time.

He's on the powerplay, the penalty kill, four-on-four situations and he's always steady.

Co-coach Dean Evason said the giant doesn't get the kudos he deserves.

"All year he's played against the top guys on every team and he's the type of guy who doesn't get the recognition he should," said Evason, who handles the defence corps.

"Among his peers and among his coaching staff, we know the value he brings."

When it comes to consistency on the ice, it's a lot harder for a junior-aged kid than for a professional hockey player.

"We all try to be consistent," said Evason. "It just doesn't happen in hockey and it certainly doesn't happen in junior hockey."


Videos

Photos