No. 1 with a shrug

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

He didn't ask for it.

In fact, he doesn't really want it.

But Kelly Kisio is going to have to deal with it yet again.

The Calgary Hitmen have been tagged with the No. 1 ranking in the CHL.

"This is the first I've heard of it," Kisio said of the lofty rating.

"Nobody's talking about it in our dressing room."

Kisio's crew were ranked No. 1 in the WHL before they even played a game last season. The lofty ranking, Kisio said, weighed on the team's psyche and the Hitmen never came close to delivering on those early expectations.

The second-year coach was looking forward to starting off the season with more reasonable goals. But an unexpected 7-0 run to start the season has his club back in the spotlight.

"We've been flying under the radar and going about our business," Kisio said. "So it doesn't matter what other people think. We don't think we're that great of a team. There's a long ways to go."

The Hitmen haven't been pegged as the top team in the nation since the 1999-2000 season. That squad, with the likes of Brad Moran and Pavel Brendl filling the net, posted 58 wins and a franchise-record 120 points.

There's not much of a comparison between the two squads.

The current team doesn't have a true gamebreaker. It won't come close to the 313 goals the '99-00 team put on the board.

But they won't need to.

The only undefeated team in the country is getting it done with smothering defence and a balanced scoring attack.

"We knew our strength was going to be on the back end, starting in net with (Justin) Pogge and (Daniel) Spence," Kisio said. "But we've done our best to make sure the forwards are coming back and helping out.

"A lot of our defensive work is done in the offensive end."

Calgary's unblemished record will be put to the test this weekend when it will play three games in as many nights, starting with tonight's tilt in Moose Jaw (7 p.m., The Fan 960). The Hitmen will also visit Brandon and Regina before returning home to take on Lethbridge Wednesday.

"It's going to be a battle, that's for sure," Kisio said of the condensed road trip.

"Brandon played real well in our building and the other two teams have been going pretty good as well."

DEINES BACK: Kisio brought back a familiar face yesterday when he picked up power forward Kris Deines from Prince George for a seventh-round draft pick.

Deines, a High River product, played in 100 games (four goals, 180 PIM) over two seasons with the Hitmen from 2002 to 2004.

To make room for Deines, the Hitmen released overage centre Ryan Costanzo.


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