Big-game experience pays off

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:16 PM ET


 TAMPA -- This is supposed to be the pressure cooker.

 Especially for young hockey players.

 Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final is when legends are born. When the weak fail.

 The buildup to tonight's Calgary Flames meeting with the Tampa Bay Lightning will be accompanied by a level of hype none of the youngsters on either side have felt.

 Even if they've won college titles.

 Still, Jordan Leopold and Chuck Kobasew believe they're prepared for what will happen when the puck drops.

 After all, this is supposed to be the time of their lives.

 "It's gonna be fun," Leopold said. "It's another challenge for us. We get another crack. We get two chances to get that fourth win and it's gonna be a big one.

 "This is for the most prestigious trophy in all of hockey. It's gonna be exciting and emotions are gonna run high. We'd like to come home with some hardware."

 Both Kobasew and Leopold have experienced the excitement of a one-game showdown for a title before.

 Both have come out victorious.

 Kobasew set up the game-winner for Boston College in the 2001 NCAA championship game and Leopold was captain of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers when they claimed the 2002 crown.

 "Any experience you can get is good," said Kobasew, who's still looking for his first playoff goal. "We have a couple of Game 6s and a Game 7 and that helps."

 Especially, he said, the opening round seventh-game overtime win in Vancouver.

 "It's a totally different series but it was a Game 7 on the road and it was a close game all the way through," Kobasew explained.

 "If you need something to look back on, you can take it from those experiences."

 Both players have shown remarkable calm through all they've faced this post-season. Kobasew, even though he hasn't scored, has provided a feisty fourth-line effort.

 Leopold has had his ups and downs but that is part and parcel from being a 23-year-old defenceman who's logging as much ice time as anyone else on his team.

 Tonight, Kobasew and Leopold are hoping to use the same plan that's taken them this far.

 "Just keep your emotions even," Kobasew said.

 "You just have to do the things you've been doing all along. Just stick to the system you've been playing all year and have a good start."


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