Hitmen find the will

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

'Will beats skill.'

That motivational slogan was pasted on the wall of the offensively gifted Lethbridge Hurricanes' dressing room prior to the '05 playoffs.

It was a warning and it went unheeded.

The bigger, more physical Calgary Hitmen brought their lunchpails to the rink and gutted out a five-game series victory.

This year's second-round series is nearly a mirror image. The gifted Moose Jaw Warriors are being outworked, or perhaps outmuscled, by the Hitmen.

One glaring statistic perfectly illustrates this fact.

The Warriors, the highest scoring team in the WHL with three of the league's top six snipers, have gone 0-for-19 on the powerplay.

Hitmen centre Ryan White, one of the club's top penalty killers, said there's no magical recipe to his club's success.

"It's just hard work," White says of the unit which was ranked second in the league during the regular season.

"It's been a big thing for us all year. We take pride in it."

The Warriors snipers have found it nearly impossible to set up in front of goaltender Justin Pogge. Twin towers Jeff Schultz and Brett Carson have physically dominated the Moose Jaw forwards.

In an attempt to create a physical presence in the slot, Warriors coach Steve Young moved blueliner Jesse Zetariuk (6-ft. 3-in., 195-lb.) up front on the powerplay in Game 4.

Speedster Steve Covington, arguably the best penalty killer in the league, and rookie Brett Sonne have been a blur of continuous motion, forcing the Warriors to move the puck along the perimeter.

But surely, sooner or later, the Warriors powerplay will awaken.

Scoring king Troy Brouwer, who has gone to Chicago to have his injured knee examined by Blackhawks' personnel, and will likely miss the remainder of the series.

But there's more than enough firepower to take up the slack.

The best way to avoid kickstarting the Moose Jaw PP is to stay out of the sin bin, White said.

"They've got some high-skilled guys who can put it in the back of our net real quick," he said.

"We don't want to give those guys any more chances than we already have."

GM/head coach Kelly Kisio was in full agreement.

"That's for sure," Kisio said. "There's fire behind that door and you don't want to play with it."

- - -

MOOSE JAW WARRIORS @ CALGARY HITMEN

SERIES TIED 2-2

GAME 5 TONIGHT, 7 P.M. TV: CH. 10


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