Underdogs poised to bite

SCOTT FISHER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

No one needs to tell Brodie Dupont his Calgary Hitmen are serious underdogs.

No one needs to tell him the Kootenay Ice, who host Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final tonight (7 p.m., Shaw TV, The Fan 960), are one of the highest-ranked teams in the nation.

And he's well aware the Cranbrook crew's offence was the most potent in the WHL this season.

Consensus is, they're pretty good.

"Yeah, that's the rumour," Dupont said with a smile.

On paper, there's no reason to believe the series will go much beyond the four-game minimum.

Yet, somehow Dupont and Co. believe they've got a legitimate shot at pulling off the upset.

Perhaps they're drawing on their regular-season 'success' against the Ice.

While only winning two of the eight meetings, five of the games were decided by a single goal.

A bounce here, a big save there ... and who knows?

"They didn't outplay us," Dupont says. "Maybe they capitalized on one more mistake.

"We know we can compete with them. As long as we stick to our system, we'll be OK.

"We're going to have to get some timely goaltending and everyone's going to have to show up."

GM/head coach Kelly Kisio expects his squad to raise its level of play against the gifted Ice.

"We've played the best teams in the league and we've beat them," Kisio says. "Our guys know they can play with the good teams."

Slowing down Kootenay's top line of Steve DaSilva, Ryan Russell and Andrew Bailey will be key.

And then there's Ben Maxwell, who was leading the league in scoring when he injured his elbow in January. He hasn't played since but is expected to return tonight.

"Their top line is special so we have to pay attention to them," Kisio said. "And (d-men Michael) Busto and (Chad) Greenan. They're all outstanding junior players. If you let them loose for a second, they're going to score."

HIT PARADE:

Hitmen C Ryan White was named to the WHL Eastern Conference First All-Star Team yesterday while teammate D Karl Alzner was selected to the Second Team. Kootenay D Mike Busto and RW Steve DaSilva), Medicine Hat D Kris Russell and G Matt Keetley) and Moose Jaw LW Riley Holzapfel round out the first team ... The Portland Winter Hawks will select first at the bantam draft.


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