Sixth-place ranking puts doubts to rest

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

Maybe it's time to drink the Kool-Aid.

Not guzzle it, mind you, but perhaps just a sip.

Most junior hockey pundits expected the Calgary Hitmen to struggle during what was expected to be somewhat of a rebuilding year.

After a quick start that saw the team win its first half-dozen games on home ice, we've been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Eventually the losses would start piling up and the Hitmen would settle back down to Earth.

It hasn't happened.

And now they're the sixth-ranked team in the country.

Sniper Brandon Kozun, who leads the WHL with 11 goals, said his team isn't rebuilding, just retooling.

"Any time you have a team that goes to the Eastern Conference final two years in a row, you're thinking 'hey, this team has to rebuild once in a while,' " the Calgarian said.

"But you know what? Vancouver does it every year, too. Personally, I didn't expect them to be doing as good as they have. But they're obviously a good team."

The Giants haven't lost in regulation time this season (8-0-0-3) and are ranked seventh in the country.

The OHL's Windsor Spitfires (12-1-0-0) are sitting in the No. 1 spot.

Maybe the Hitmen's record this season shouldn't be a surprise.

After all, there are seven NHL draft picks on the roster.

Brett Sonne (St. Louis Blues) is one of them.

"It's not a shock," said Sonne, who sits second in the league with 21 points.

"We're a skilled team that is hard-working.

"When we come out with both every night, we're going to get recognized."

Some people are still waiting for the roof to cave in.

Kozun said those nay-sayers may be waiting for a long time.

"I don't think a lot of people thought we'd do as good as we're doing, but they didn't know what kind of talent we have in this room.

"We knew there were guys who could step up," he said.

"We're pretty deep and when we have every guy going, we're a hard team to beat.

"I think there's still a lot of doubters out there, but people are starting to realize this team is really good."


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