Front and centre

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

It's what dreams are made of. It's where reputations are built.

Just the thought of it sends the heartrate through the roof and gets the adrenaline pumping.

The Calgary Hitmen have been through this high-stakes road before, losing Game 7 in Brandon a year ago tomorrow.

Brodie Dupont remembers the heartbreak. And he doesn't want a second helping.

That loss was the lowest point of his young career.

"Yeah, that's probably accurate," he said.

"You work for so long and put in so many hours and it feels like you put in all that work for nothing.

"It feels like it was yesterday. It left a bitter taste in our mouths and I definitely know I don't want that feeling again."

The Hitmen will have home-ice advantage this time around and they hope the large, vocal crowd pushes them over the top.

"It's a little different this year," Dupont said. "We've got the home crowd and that's what we worked for all year.

"Game 7s are a toss-up but I'd rather be playing here than in Moose Jaw."

If the Hitmen are still alive tomorrow, their top line must reappear tonight.

Dupont, Ryan White and Keegan Dansereau have been decent, especially early in the series when the trio combined for three goals and eight points.

But, in the last three games, they've been held off the scoresheet.

That can't happen tonight and Dupont knows it.

"I've been disappointed in my play," the New York Rangers prospect said.

"Their top players have out-competed us and we've got to change that (tonight) or we'll probably be cleaning out our stalls."

Dupont and White tied for the team scoring lead during the regular season.

Defencemen Jeff Schultz and Craig Lineker lead the post-season charge with 10 points apiece.

Calgary needs more offence from its forwards.

And more specifically, its top line.

"We're not finding space because we're not playing like we should," Dupont said. "We're a physical line. I play gritty, Whitey likes to play gritty.

"If we move our feet and hit, we'll create our own space. They're not just going to roll over and hand it to us.

"We have to produce in Game 7.

"If we don't, it'll could be a long night."

- - -

CALGARY HITMEN'S HISTORY IN GAME 7 SHOWDOWNS ...

2005 CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL

HITMEN 1 AT WHEAT KINGS 3

Calgary took a 1-0 lead early in the third period when overage forward Tyrel Lucas broke the ice.

But Brandon got three straight goals from captain Tim Konsorada, Calgarian Ryan Stone and Jakub Sindel to complete the comeback after trailing the series 3-1.

2004 CONFERENCE QUARTER-FINAL

HITMEN 2 AT REBELS 4

Shay Stephenson, who scored a pair of goals, and Joel Henituik gave Red Deer a 3-0 lead. Lee Zalasky ended Cam Ward's shutout hopes with 3:09 to play and Ryan Getzlaf made it a one-goal game less than a minute later but Justin Taylor clinched it for the Rebels with an empty-netter.

2002 CONFERENCE QUARTER-FINAL

HITMEN 1 AT BRONCOS 3

Owen Fussey's early third-period marker tied the affair at one after Nathan Smith scored while shorthanded in the opening frame.

Tim Smith roofed the winner with 4:04 to play in regulation time and captain Ben Twordik iced it with an empty-netter.

1999 CONFERENCE QUARTER-FINAL

ICE 3 AT HITMEN 8

Eight different goal scorers lit the lamp as the Hitmen survived a first-round scare from Kootenay. Defencemen Matt Kinch and Brad Stuart had three points apiece as Calgary broke open a 1-1 game with four straight goals in the middle frame. The Hitmen outshot the Ice 40-20.

1998 CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL

BRONCOS 0 AT HITMEN 1

Brad Mehalko scored his third game-winning goal in as many nights as Calgary battled back from a 3-1 series deficit. Goaltender Alexandre Fomitchev kicked out 28 shots for the shutout in front of a then-WHL record crowd of 12,726 as the Hitmen advanced to the conference final for the first time.


Videos

Photos

Canoe Top Headlines