Friday, 30 September 2011

Hitmen at Ice Saturday Preview - September 23, 2011

The Calgary Hitmen board the bus today headed for Cranbrook in advance of Saturday's season opener against the Ice.  The players had some fun with Victor Rask yesterday as he returned to the club from Carolina Hurricanes camp.  Rookies only get to pick from the remaining untaken jersey numbers.  Many teammates joked with Rask wanting him to pick number 8 to follow the lead of Washington Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin.  Rask opted for #23.

    HITMEN HEADLINES:  The Calgary Hitmen open their 17th Western Hockey League season Saturday night on the road in Cranbrook against the Kootenay Ice.  It features of a meeting of the last two Ed Chynoweth Cup winners as Western Hockey League Champions: the Hitmen in 2010 and the Ice in 2011.  Internet Broadcast on starts at 7:00 p.m.  Fans can access the game by clicking on the Husky Hitmen logo on the lower part of the main page.

    VS KOOTENAY:  Saturday is the first of eight meetings with the Ice.  Last season Kootenay won the season series going 7-1 against Calgary outscoring the Hitmen by a combined 34-11.

    OPENING NIGHT: Lifetime in season openers the Hitmen have 9 wins, 3 losses, 3 overtime losses and 1 tie.

    PRE-SEASON PLAY:  The Hitmen finished their six game pre-season schedule with a record of 5-1, second only to the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Eastern Conference who went 6-1.  After dropping their opening game the Hitmen rattled off five straight victories including a 10-0 win over the Kootenay Ice Sunday afternoon in the Crowsnest Pass.

    POINT PARADE:  Justin Kirsch led not only all Hitmen, but the entire Western Hockey League in pre-season scoring with 11 points (6g 5a) in five games.  Brady Brassart was next on the club with eight points (3g 5a) while Alex Gogolev rounded out the top three with seven points (3g 4a).

    AHL TRYOUT:  Hitmen 20-year-old defenceman Ben Wilson departs Saturday for an American Hockey League tryout with the Lake Erie Monsters.

    2010-11 GRADS: The three 20-year-old graduating Hitmen from last season have all continued their hockey careers elsewhere: Tyler Fiddler is in the CIS with the University of Calgary Dinos, Kris Foucault is at Minnesota Wild camp while Misha Fisenko is in the KHL with Novokuznetsk Metallurg.

    DRAFTED PLAYERS: Brooks Macek (6th round Detroit), Victor Rask (2nd round Carolina 2011).

    STILL CAMPING: Alex Roach is attending Los Angeles Kings camp on a free agent tryout.  Trevor Cheek (San Jose) and Peter Kosterman (Calgary) also attended NHL training camps this month as free agent invites but have both returned to the Hitmen.

    OFF SEASON MOVES: July 20 - Hitmen acquire 17-year-old Chris Driedger (G) from the Tri-City Americans in exchange for a third round pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.  July 28 – Hitmen claim 20-year-old Kenton Miller (LW) off waivers from the Spokane Chiefs.  August 18 - Hitmen acquire 18-year-old Brady Brassart (C) from the Spokane Chiefs in exchange for a fourth round conditional pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.  September 15 – Hitmen trade 18-year-old Kyle Schmidt (D) to the Saskatoon Blades for a fourth round pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft.

    CHL IMPORT DRAFT:  Hitmen selected 18-year-old Victor Rask (C) from Sweden 3rd overall in 2011 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft and 19-year-old Alexander Gogolev (RW) from Russia with their second round pick, 60th overall.

    REGULAR SEASON CAREER WATCH:  Brooks Macek needs four assists for 100.  Head Coach Mike Williamson is 11 wins shy of 300. 

    HOME OPENER: The Adrenalin Source for Sports Home Opener is Sunday, October 2nd against the Kootenay Ice.  Game time is 2:00 pm at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Fans will also have a chance at the home opener to buy a piece of franchise history.  The club will hold its annual game worn jersey auction.  All white jerseys from the 2010-11 season are up for bid.  Net proceeds go to the Hitmen Education Fund which supports post secondary study for alumni players.  The silent auction will take place on the Saddledome concourse by section 226.  All bids will close when the puck drops at the start the third period.  Winners also receive a letter of authenticity.

    UPCOMING GAMES:  The Hitmen enjoy nearly a week off before taking to the ice for Game 2 of the season when they visit the Lethbridge Hurricanes Friday night.  Radio Broadcast on Sportsnet Radio The Fan 960 starts at 7:00 pm.

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