Russell going to be a tough foe

SCOTT FISHER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:16 AM ET

One Russell down. One to go.

When Hitmen centre Ian Duval scored the overtime winner in Game 7 of the opening round in Cranbrook, Ryan Russell's season came to an end.

His twin brother, Kris, will be looking for revenge when his Medicine Hat Tigers host the Hitmen tomorrow for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final (7:30 p.m., Shaw TV, The Fan 960).

Ryan, the speedy Ice centre, posed all kinds of problems in Round 1. Kris is an even bigger handful, said Hitmen blueliner Karl Alzner.

"Time for the brother, I guess," Alzner said with a laugh. "It'll be tough though."

Alzner became pretty close friends with the Tigers rearguard at the world junior tournament in Sweden.

But now that the star defencemen are on opposite benches, the conversations have died down.

In fact, Alzner didn't hear his friend-turned-foe had been named the WHL Eastern Conference player of the year yesterday.

"I didn't know that but he's deserving for sure," Alzner says.

"He's been so dominant the last three years, it's nice to see him get recognized."

Russell, the only d-man to lead his team in scoring, will go up against Seattle T-Bird Aaron Gagnon for the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as league MVP May 2 at the Roundup Centre.

Alzner is about to see a lot of Russell and Tigers forward Darren Helm, another world junior standout.

"Towards the end of the tournament, I talked quite a bit with (Russell) on the bus," he said. "When we play each other, we talk and I text (message) him. If I ever have a question, I always ask him."

Russell finished with 32 goals despite missing 13 games and may have potted 40 if he wasn't away with Team Canada.

"There's a good chance," Alzner said of the Columbus Blue Jackets' prospect.

"I don't know how he does it but he always seems to be in the right spot at the right time.

"He's like a forward playing defence."

Alzner, slated to go in the top five picks of this summer's NHL Entry Draft, says controlling Russell and Co. won't be an easy task.

Especially at the perpetually soldout Medicine Hat Arena, where the Tigers have the league's second-best home record.

"I sat out a game there when I was 16. We were just sitting there and it wasn't a close game or a dirt game. We lost 8-0.


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