Important date for Derek

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Derek LeBlanc has been checking off the calendar.

Just 17 days after getting dealt by the Brandon Wheat Kings to the Calgary Hitmen, the 19-year-old forward will take on his old mates tonight (Saddledome, 7 p.m.).

And the Brandon product said he's been eagerly waiting for the tilt.

"I'm definitely looking forward to it," LeBlanc said after practice yesterday. "After I found out I was getting traded, it's a day that I marked down on the calendar but I've got to take it like any other game and not get too excited."

He was acquired by Calgary at the Jan. 10 WHL trade deadline for defenceman Dustin Kohn as Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio sought to add some scoring to his lineup, while also getting a proven playoff player.

The Hitmen knew all about LeBlanc, who had four goals and seven points against Calgary in the WHL playoffs last year as the Wheaties eliminated them in the second round and went on to the league championship.

In last year's post-season, he was dominant at times and hopes for the same at the end of this campaign.

"Every game's important and you always want to play your best but for playoffs there's a little bit more excitement where every game's so important and that's probably where I play my best," said LeBlanc, who has five points in seven games with the Hitmen, including two game-winning goals.

In discussing LeBlanc's play so far, Kisio said he has been decent.

"I think he's been OK. He hasn't been good. He hasn't been bad," said Kisio.

"He's got some stuff that we want him to work on and he'll get better as we go."

Meanwhile, Calgary centre Riley Merkley, who has been out since December with a knee injury, should suit up for the Hitmen tonight.


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