Seventh heaven or hell

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

If the Hitmen are searching for optimism heading into tonight's Game 7, they won't find it in the history books.

Calgary is 2-2 when playing for all the marbles. Not bad. But that's where the good news ends. The club's two wins came back in the late '90s.

In 1998, the Hitmen battled back from a 3-1 deficit (sound familiar?) to down Swift Current in the Eastern Conference semifinal.

The following year, Calgary tripped up Kootenay in the opening round and then went on to win the WHL crown.

Both wins came at the 'Dome.

In their last two Game 7s, both on the road, the Hitmen have seen their seasons come to a screeching halt.

The Broncos clipped Calgary in 2002 while the Red Deer Rebels took last year's winner-take-all affair 4-2 at the Centrium.

Captain Ryan Getzlaf was a fresh-faced rookie when his Hitmen bowed out to Speedy Creek three years ago.

He said his nerves won't be nearly as frayed tonight.

"I feel more comfortable because I have a bigger role now," Getzlaf said. "When I was 16, it was a learning experience for me.

"Now it has to be put in to action, so to speak."

Blueliner Dustin Kohn, who playing in the Game 7 heartbreak against Red Deer last year, said there's not much to be learned from the experience -- other than you don't want to come up short.

"Just that it sucks to go home," Kohn said. "It's not a fun feeling after you lose.

"Hopefully, we'll change that this year."

Brandon has gone 2-1 in Game 7s over the past decade.

The Wheaties beat Moose Jaw in 2003. They also got past Saskatoon in the opening round the previous spring before blowing a 3-1 series lead of their own and falling to Red Deer in the Conference final.

Hitmen rookie Brodie Dupont, who had four points in a series-opening 10-1 win in Brandon, has never experienced anything like what awaits him tonight.

"It's Game 7 of the WHL playoffs," Dupont said. "I've never played in a Game 7 so I'm looking forward to it.

"You'll probably see a lot of character guys show up and see who can play under the pressure

"It's going to be tons of fun."


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