Gotta Getz going

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

Game 7. Just the thought of it gets the adrenalin flowing.

One last hand with both teams going 'all in.'

Every player has dreamt of it since picking up a piece of lumber and heading out to the street in search of glory.

Now, for members of the Calgary Hitmen and Brandon Wheat Kings, the dream has become reality. For one team, it'll become a nightmare.

Whether the Hitmen will spend the rest of their lives looking back at tonight's tilt with fond memories or trying in vain to banish them to their subconscious comes down to one factor: The play of their top line.

The fate of the Hitmen, as always, is tied to the trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Ladd and Shaun Landolt. Hitmen captain Ryan Getzlaf has already been forced to deal with the anguish of two Game 7 losses in his junior career.

And he doesn't want to go for the trifecta.

"This is what it's all about," Getzlaf said yesterday from his Brandon hotel room.

"This is Game 7 and everyone's looking to perform.

"Anytime you're in the playoffs, guys look to see who's going to step up. That's what we need to do."

Getzlaf was speaking about the team as a whole.

But it's his line that will ultimately determine whether the Hitmen sprint home tonight to host the Prince Albert Raiders in Round 3 this weekend, or begin their summer vacations earlier than they wanted.

The talented trio has held up its end of the bargain in the post-season, combining for 16 goals and 37 points.

But the three have managed a total of just two points in the last two games. Not surprisingly, both were losses.

Getzlaf, who is riding a 10-game points streak, knows the pressure is on to produce tonight.

"I can't speak for those two but I'm sure they feel the same way as I do," the Anaheim Mighty Ducks prospect said.

"We have to be one of the best lines on the ice tomorrow."

One of the best?

No, no, Ryan. The best.

And they'll have to do it against whomever Brandon coach Kelly McCrimmon throws out on the ice, likely Ryan Stone's unit.

Hitmen bench boss Kelly Kisio said his stars will have to earn everything they get tonight.

"They've got to fight through it, battle through the hooking and holding and create some space for themselves," Kisio said.

Past Game 7 failures won't help or hinder his squad, said Kisio. Veterans will feel the pressure as much as the rookies.

"I don't think anyone can relax going into Game 7, whether or not you've been through it or know anything about it," he said. "It's not a relaxing time.

"Teams make a name for themselves in Game 7s, by playing to their limits and one step further.

"It's all about desire and determination now."

McCrimmon has watched Getzlaf put up nine points in the series but never more than two in any one game.

The world junior star, he said, could explode at any moment.

"There hasn't been one game of the six where I thought Ryan Getzlaf didn't do anything," McCrimmon said. "He's been dangerous every night and some nights he's been better than others but he's still been a dominant player."

The Hitmen have never needed a dominant performance so bad.


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