No more firing Blancs

SCOTT FISHER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

Derek LeBlanc has a reputation as a playoff performer.

One of those players who has the ability to find an extra gear when his team needs him the most.

Two years ago, when he played for his hometown Brandon Wheat Kings, he played a major role in knocking the Calgary Hitmen out of the playoffs.

Kelly Kisio knew he had to have him, so the Hitmen GM/head coach dealt rearguard Dustin Kohn to the Wheaties for LeBlanc at the 2006 trade deadline.

It took a while for that trade to pay dividends.

But LeBlanc, whose Hitmen begin the WHL Eastern Conference Final tonight in Medicine Hat (7:30 p.m., Shaw TV, The Fan 960), is making his GM look pretty smart now.

"Yeah, it kinda took me a year and a half to get it going," LeBlanc said with a chuckle.

"But this is my last year and it's the best time of the year. I think this is when I've played the best hockey of my career.

"It's easy to turn your game up because everything matters so much more. Every shift means so much more than it does in the regular season."

LeBlanc shredded the Wheaties in Round 2 and was named WHL player of the week for his 11-point series.

LeBlanc has a six-game points streak going while power forward Brodie Dupont has picked up points in eight straight.

Dupont, who leads the team with 15 points through the first two rounds, said he can't help but get a little more psyched up in the playoffs.

"As much as you don't want to say it, mentally you come to the rink more ready," Dupont said. "It's an exciting time of the year and this is where you make it or break it.

"You put everything on the line and then you either did everything you could or you're going home."

Centre Ryan White, who has been no slouch himself with 13 points in as many games, said his club needs continued production from the two veterans against the heavily favoured Tigers.

"You know Moose is going to be there," White said. "That's the way he is, he's always going to be Brodie Dupont. He'll always have that edge to his game.

"And Derek has really come around. I thought he played well in the first series too but he helped us a lot in the last series.

"To get that secondary scoring, especially from your checking line, it's awesome. We need him to be the same player this series."


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