Boss eyes enlisted 'Men

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Beardy's Blackhawks blueliner Kyle Schmidt wants to make the jump to the major junior ranks next season, and figures there's no better place to prove he's ready than in the backyard of the WHL club that owns his rights.

"When I came on the bus, I was so excited for the first game," said Schmidt, who was scooped up by the Calgary Hitmen in last May's WHL Bantam Draft.

"I want to get my chance, whether it's next year or down the road, to see what I can do."

Rest assured Kyle, the Hitmen are watching.

Hitmen GM Kelly Kisio attended six games over the first two days of the Mac's Midget AAA Tournament and watched a slew of prospects, including Schmidt and Calgary Northstars winger Brendan Santini, in action.

He'll be back in the stands again today, although he doesn't expect any major surprises.

"I think we have a very good scouting staff and I'm never worried about our prospects, that's for sure," Kisio said.

The current edition of Kisio's club continues to give credence to that claim.

The Hitmen beat the Moose Jaw Warriors 4-0 yesterday at the Saddledome, extending their home-ice winning streak to 13 games.

Bostjan Golicic and Jason MacDonald each notched a goal and an assist for the host Hitmen (33-5-1-1), who padded their lead atop the Eastern Conference standings.

Defencemen Paul Postma and Keith Seabrook also lit the lamp, while Marty Jones stopped 24 shots for his third shutout of the season.

Across town at Father David Bauer Arena and Max Bell Centre, Hitmen hopefuls are testing their mettle against other WHL wannabes.

While all indications are the lack of international flavour is having an impact at the ticket counter, the all-Western Canadian lineup is great news for scouts, who always flock to Calgary between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Some WHL squads have as many as a dozen prospects skating in the week-long tourney.

Seven Hitmen draftees are competing.

Kisio intends to watch each of them at least once before the Mac's hardware is handed out on New Year's Day at the Saddledome.

The Hitmen boss is planning to attend a handful of games today, when he'll see a pair of top-notch prospects -- Calgary Buffaloes defender Peter Kosterman and Okanagan Rockets winger Cody Beach -- on the ice.

Kosterman was Calgary's first-round selection in May's bantam draft.

Beach was picked two years ago and played three games with the Hitmen at the start of the season before being reassigned to his AAA squad in Kelowna, where he has the 'C' stitched on his jersey.

The Mac's tournament provides a good measuring stick, but Kisio isn't putting too much stock into what he sees this week.

"The Mac's is a big thing for guys to play in and after they're done this tournament, they're usually exhausted.

"It's a very tough grind for them and a lot of times, they're banged up," Kisio said.

"It's a good thing to see them against some of the best teams in the other provinces, but it's not the be-all, end-all.

"But it's a good showcase for these guys."


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