Hitmen fall in battle of powerplays

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

AIRDRIE -- It was hard to evaluate much of anything, except special teams.

With 25 powerplays handed out in last night's pre-season opener, Calgary Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio got a good look at what his youngsters could do on the powerplay and penalty kill.

"That's going to be the norm for the pre-season," Kisio said of the WHL-mandated crackdown on obstruction.

"The penalties that were called were penalties in our new world. Guys have to figure out what they can do and what they can't.

"A few of our guys couldn't."

Devon LeBlanc, younger brother of Hitmen forward Derek, scored a pair of goals for Red Deer as the Rebels skated to a 3-1 win.

Patrick Kozyra also scored for the victors, while 15-year-old d-man Matt MacKenzie provided Calgary's offence.

Both teams iced youthful lineups and Kisio wasn't happy with the few veterans who did suit up.

"Our older guys have to commit a little more," he said. "I thought our young guys were pretty good but a lot of our older guys took the night off."

MacKenzie, a second-round pick in last spring's bantam draft, opened the scoring with the lone goal of the opening period. The 15-year-old isn't eligible to play in the WHL until the '07-08 season and was returned to his Burnaby, B.C., home following the game.

The Hitmen goaltending battle was basically a saw-off with rookie Marty Jones giving up one goal on 16 shots and 19-year-old Brant Miller surrendering a pair on 21 shots.

The Hitmen host the Kootenay Ice Friday at the Centennial Arenas.


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