Wily Riley regains star form

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:12 PM ET

Riley Merkley is back in the groove.

The Calgary Hitmen centre returned late last month after sitting out 13 games with a knee injury.

Merkley, 18, promptly scored the shootout game-winner in a 5-4 win over Brandon in his return. And he has continued to provide a much-needed offensive spark over the past three weeks.

"It was tough to get right back into it," Merkley said yesterday from the team bus, which was en route to Regina for tonight's game against the Pats (6 p.m., The Fan 960).

"The schedule is pretty busy this time of the year so I just wanted to get back into game shape as quick as possible.It was nice to be able to contribute a little bit so I think I made the transition pretty well."

The 6-ft. 3-in., 180-pounder now has points in three of his last four games.

Calgary will look to avoid matching a season-long three-game slide tonight on a trip that continues tomorrow in Brandon (6:30 p.m.) and Sunday in Moose Jaw (6 p.m., both games on The Fan 960).

"It's always a tough trip, there's no doubt about it," Merkley said. "But we've learned how to play better on the road this year.

"Good teams don't lose two or three in a row. It's something we've done a good job with this year."

Playing on a line with Brodie Dupont and Steve Covington, Merkley will be counted on to provide offence, which is even more important with d-man Dylan Yeo out for the next two months.

"It's a big loss for us. It's unfortunate but things like that happen. It happened to us on the back end last year too," Merkley said, referring to the loss of Darryl Yacboski.

"We'll work through it because we're pretty deep back there."

HIT PARADE: D Shaden Moore (ankle, day to day) will not make his debut this weekend. He did not make the trip but hopes to return next Friday when the Hitmen host Swift Current (7 p.m. at the 'Dome).


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