Hitmen enjoying well-earned rest

SCOTT FISHER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

The Calgary Hitmen could have spent the past three days touring Western Canada on the iron lung.

Instead, they took care of Brandon in Game 6 Sunday at the 'Dome, earning some much-needed rest in preparation for the Medicine Hat Tigers, who host Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final Friday (7:30 p.m., Fan 960).

Hitmen forward Steve Covington, playing out his junior career, said Sunday's victory meant more than just avoiding a winner-take-all at Brandon's Keystone Centre.

After a seven-game marathon against Kootenay, the Hitmen have spent more time on the team bus than they have in their own beds.

"That was our biggest concern," Covington said. "We'd be lying if we said it wasn't in the backs of our heads.

"And a couple of years ago, we had to deal with (Game 7 in Brandon) and we lost in Game 7. We knew that was a must win and it was one of our best performances of the playoffs."

Covington scored the insurance goal with a highlight-reel top-shelf beauty. Brodie Dupont, the club's top scorer in the playoffs, said he'd love to see more offence out of the league's top penalty killer.

"He's got to do that more often," Dupont said of Covington. "In practice, he always puts those away. But he's riding a (four-game) points streak now and has confidence."

Dupont agreed with his teammate the club was in desperate need of R & R.

"The rest is big," he said. "When we went to Brandon from Cranbrook, it was hard on the body and we didn't have much energy."

The Tigers also have been relaxing after dispatching the Regina Pats in four straight games. Medicine Hat won the Central Division with a conference-leading 107 points. Covington knows his team will be the underdog once again.

"They'll say they didn't finish that many points ahead of us for no reason," the 20-year-old said. "But hopefully we'll use the momentum we got over the last few days.

"It should be a good series. The travel's going to be a lot better."


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