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Wednesday, 27 March 2013 11:56

Playoff rivals are still friends off the ice

Written by  Brad Brown
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Keeping your friends close and your enemies closer is easy enough in theory.


How exactly you do that when your friend and enemy are one and the same is what Graham Black and Calder Brooks have been trying to figure out since the start of the Western Hockey League playoffs last week.
Teammates in midget AAA for two years.
Linemates for one.
And, for all intents and purposes, sworn enemies for the last eight days as they lined up on opposite sides of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Swift Current Broncos and Calgary Hitmen.
“Leading up to the series we talked a couple times and we’ve been sending a couple tweets back and forth,” said Black, the Broncos’ No. 2 goal scorer in the regular season with 24.
“But during the series, no contact at all and I’ll wait until I see him in the summer.”
Black and Brooks spent two years together with the Regina Pat Canadians before jumping to the WHL. They both fondly recall the Canadians’ Dec. 19, 2010 game against Moose Jaw when they came out of the first period with two goals and two assists each.
And it’s not lost on them that they’re sharing the ice for both men’s first WHL playoff series. (Brooks was injured in Game 1 of Calgary’s first-round loss last year to Brandon and doesn’t consider it his true playoff debut.)
But for the time being neither has a lot of time for that sentimental junk.
“We’re good friends and I’m sure we always will be,” Black said Monday before Game 3 at the Credit Union iplex. “He’s a good buddy of mine, but not tonight.”
Brooks got the upper hand early in the series, assisting on Alex Roach’s overtime winner in a 6-5 Game 1 win and snuffing out Black’s two-point night.
Calgary held a 4-0 lead early in the second period of that game before the Broncos stormed back to force overtime.
The Hitmen made no such mistakes March 22 in Game 2, also at the Pengrowth Saddledome, building a three-goal lead en route to a 3-1 win and 2-0 stranglehold in the best-of-seven series.
“We kind of had a rough go against them, especially (in Swift Current),” Brooks said before Monday’s Game 3. “We lost both (regular season) games when came into Swift, but we’ve done a lot of video work and we learned a lot playing them the last two games in Calgary so we know what they bring to the table.”
Back on home ice Monday the Broncos apparently learned some lessons from the first two games too, as they recovered from a dumpster fire of a first period Monday to pull out a 3-2 win in overtime.
Colby Cave’s second goal of the game was the winner, Broncos captain Adam Lowry had a goal and two assists, and Eetu Laurikainen made 43 saves in the winning effort.
Counting the regular season and playoffs together, Cave has 23 goals this year. Among those are seven game winners, one insurance marker and five were the final goal of the game.
Game 4 was played Tuesday in Swift Current and Game 5 Thursday in Calgary. Game 6, if necessary, will be played Saturday in Swift Current and a potential Game 7 will be back in Calgary on Monday.
“We need to come out early and try and get a lead on these guys and see what they do when we get the lead because we haven’t had one yet this series,” said Black. “And I think if we can get a lead and play our physical game we can definitely shut them down.”

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