Go figure!

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

The Calgary Hitmen have locked up home-ice advantage.

But their plans to open a playoff series at the 'Dome for the first time in six years have been thrown for a triple-toe loop.

The WHL playoffs are set to begin March 24 but the Saddledome is playing host to the 2006 ISU World Figure Skating Championships March 20-26.

In other words, the Hitmen will be starting the post-season on the road.

Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio isn't happy with the 2-3-1-1 first-round setup.

"There's not much we can do about it," Kisio says. "You always like to start at home on the Friday and Saturday nights where you get big crowds and get the kids excited.

"You work all year to get home-ice advantage -- and eventually, we'll get it. But you could go into another building and be down 0-2 right off the bat and that puts you right behind the eight ball.

"Obviously, it's not a great situation but we'll make do."

It won't be such a big deal if the Hitmen earn at least a split of the first two games.

"It's fine if you get off to a great start," Kisio says. "If you do that, it's fine.

"But if you have a crowd of 12,000 people behind you and you're flying, score some goals and get some big victories, that can set you up for the rest of the playoffs."

Calgary's superb road record (19-9-0-0; .679 win percentage), which is second-best in the WHL behind Vancouver, has the club feeling confident about its chances.

Winger Brodie Dupont says his squad doesn't care about the venue.

"We're confident with our road record," Dupont says. "We simplify our game, jump on teams and wait for our chances.

"We'll just go into whoever's barn it is, try to steal one and then win all our games back here."

Captain Brett Carson said he expects Hitmen fans to come out in full force despite the team's games falling mid-week instead of on the weekend.

"To win in the playoffs, you eventually have to win on the road," Carson said. "It'll be nice to get back home in front of our fans.

"With the kind of fan support we've been getting, we should draw a big crowd on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We know they'll be behind us and it'll be loud in there come playoff time."

HIT PARADE: The Hitmen visit the Red Deer Rebels tomorrow night in a possible first-round preview. Calgary hosts the Saskatoon Blades Saturday (7 p.m. at the 'Dome) before travelling to Medicine Hat Sunday.


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