Kings of confidence

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

Eric Fehr knows exactly what to expect from the Calgary Hitmen tonight in the Wheat City.

After all, Fehr's desperate Brandon Wheat Kings twice faced elimination at the hands of the Hitmen in the WHL Eastern Conference semifinal and crawled out of the hole with two straight wins to stay alive.

Now it's up to the Hitmen, whose 3-1 stranglehold on the series disappeared faster than free alcohol at a wedding, to seal the deal tonight at the Keystone Centre (6 p.m., Fan 960, Shaw TV). And Fehr knows Calgary's coming like a bat out of hell.

"They're going to come to play, definitely. Their season's on the line just like ours has been the last two games and they're going to come out with that killer instinct," said Fehr, who is tied for the WHL playoff scoring lead with Calgary's Ryan Getzlaf at 17 points.

"We have to be ready for it and it's going to be a battle."

Fehr, who's played in three Game 7s as a member of the Wheat Kings, going 2-1, knows setting the tone in the opening frame is going to be key.

"It's going to be real important for everyone to get the nerves out and get playing hockey," said Fehr, a Washington Capitals prospect.

"You know that one team's going home at the end of the day and we don't want it to be us, so we're going to have to get off to a quick start and keep going from there.

When it comes to a Game 7 -- the do-or-die, pressure-packed, winner-take-all hockey contest that fans love -- Fehr is confident his Wheaties are up to the challenge, nailbiting as it might be.

"We gave ourselves a chance, winning two games, to set ourselves up for a Game 7, so we're going to be ready for it tomorrow," he said.

The Hitmen better be ready for some more stubborn defence from the normally offensively-minded Wheat Kings, much as they saw in Brandon's 3-1 triumph in Game 6.

Wheat Kings bench boss Kelly McCrimmon was mighty proud of the way his rearguards played in that contest -- only allowing Calgary's Jeff Schultz to score with just eight seconds left -- and he fully expects the same effort tonight.

"I felt we've been better defensively than we have at any other stage of the series," said McCrimmon, who is also the Wheaties GM.

"To a man on our backend, we were better defensively and as a result, we were able to keep Calgary off the board as long as we did, which really helped with momentum.

"We didn't have those momentum swings that we'd had in Games 3 and 4."

The coach was quite impressed with how his blueline brigade played positionally, did a good job of getting pucks out and never had stretches of losing three or four shifts in a row.

The Wheaties will again focus on defence first as they look to finish the comeback.

"What we have to do is pick up where we left off in terms of commitment to defence and continue to try and put pressure on Calgary with our forecheck," said McCrimmon.

"I think we just have to focus on bringing our best game. Through five games we felt we hadn't played our best and I thought Game 6 was the closest we've come to playing at the top of our game."

Not coincidentally, that sixth contest featured a more restrained Wheaties club, which gave Calgary's No. 2-ranked powerplay just three man-advantage opportunities, the fewest in the series.


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