Kings of B.C. back at 'Dome

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

There's usually a winner and a loser in every trade.

But last year's blockbuster deal between the Calgary Hitmen and Prince George Cougars is one of the rarities in which both teams benefitted.

The six-player swap, which brought goaltender Justin Pogge, blueliner Dylan Yeo and since-graduated centre Tyrel Lucas to Calgary, has had a drastic impact on the Hitmen's fortunes.

Pogge backstopped the team into the second round of the playoffs last spring for the first time in four years. This season, he leads the WHL in goals-against average (1.62), wins (17) and shutouts (5) after last night's 2-0 win over Prince George.

Freddie Pettersson and Brett Sonne scored for the Hitmen, who improved to 18-7-0-0 on the season.

Goalie Scott Bowles, who was sent to the Spruce City along with d-man Andy Rogers and winger Lee Zalasky, has been solid between the Cougars' pipes as well.

After posting a 15-12-4 record with the Hitmen last season prior to the deadline deal, Bowles has gone 12-4-1 in 2005-06.

"I'm comfortable after spending the last half (of 2004-05) in Prince George," the 19-year-old said. "I knew what I was coming into. The first five games were a feeling-out process for everybody. After that, we went on a bit of a roll. But things haven't been going as well as of late."

The Cougars found themselves near the top of the B.C. Division standings last month but have tumbled to fourth after losing their sixth straight last night at the 'Dome.

Bowles said it took awhile to adapt to life in northern B.C. where junior hockey players are looked at as local heroes.

"It's different in Calgary," Bowles said. "You've got the Flames, you've got the Stampeders, there are numerous sporting franchises.

"In P.G., there's us and there's the (BCHL) Spruce Kings ... and a lot of snow. So people are either at home or at the hockey game."

Rogers, who had an extended training camp look with the Tampa Bay Lightning, is just starting to hit his stride. He played in just his 12th game last night after an ankle injury flared up.

The Calgary product admits he had yesterday's date circled on his calendar.

"I've been looking forward to it for awhile," the 6-ft. 5-in., 212-pounder said. "Coming home, you've got all your friends and family in the stands.

"Plus, you're playing your former team."

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HIT PARADE: The Hitmen host the Red Deer Rebels today (5 p.m. at the 'Dome).

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CALGARY HITMEN: 2

PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS: 0


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