The Calgary Hitmen (20-16-2-1) wrap up a five game in nine days BC Division road trip tonight in Vancouver against the Giants (24-13-1-1). Radio Broadcast on Sportsnet 960 starts at 7:30pm MST with a 30 minute pre-game show. After dropping the opener of the trip, the Hitmen have won three straight posting victories in Kamloops, Kelowna and last night in Victoria. The Giants last played Saturday night beating visiting Prince George 5-1. Overall Vancouver has won four of their last five.
Calgary enters play eighth in the Eastern Conference with 41 points. The Hitmen are 12-9-2-0 on the road. Vancouver is fourth in the Western Conference with 50 points. The Giants are 14-3-0-1 on home ice.
VS. VANCOUVER: Tonight is the first of two meetings with the Giants. Last season Calgary grabbed three of a possible four points, posting a 4-3 win in Vancouver on December 3rd before a 4-3 home ice shootout loss on February 4th. Over the last five seasons Calgary is 4-0-0-1 at the Pacific Coliseum. The two clubs will wrap up their season series later this month on January 27th in Calgary.
Lifetime Calgary is 8-4 at Pacific Coliseum, the former home of the Vancouver Canucks.
REGULAR SEASON DEBUTS: Josh Thrower, Calgary’s second round pick (23rd overall), made his WHL debut last night in Victoria against the Royals. Wearing number 21, Thrower had one assist and was +2. Meanwhile Jake Virtanen, the number one overall pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, has played all four games for the Hitmen on this road trip. He scored his first WHL goal Friday night in Kamloops. The 15-year-old Abbotsford native is in the BC Major Midget League with the Fraser Valley Bruins where he leads the team in scoring with 33 points (14g, 19a) in 24 games.
CAREER YEARS: Cody Sylvester has 42 points, nine more than his previous career best of 32 set last season. Danny Gayle has 25 points, four more than his previous high of 21 set last season. Brady Brassart has 12 goals, three more than his previous best of nine in his rookie campaign two seasons ago.
300 CLUB: Centre Jimmy Bubnick played his 300th career regular season game Friday night in Kamloops. Bubnick played his first game on December 29, 2006 when he suited up for the Kamloops Blazers against the Moose Jaw Warriors.
STREAKIN: Jimmy Bubnick (3g 4a) is riding a four game point streak. Alex Gogolev has scored in three straight games and in four of his last five. Brooks Macek has points in three straight (2g1a). Alex Roach is a combined +5 in his last three games. Victor Rask (1g, 4a) is on a four-game point streak.
REGULAR SEASON CAREER WATCH: Collin Bowman needs one helper for 100 career assists. Cody Sylvester is two goals away from 50 in his career.
DID YOU KNOW? Chris Driedger recorded his first WHL shutout Sunday in Kelowna. The 27 save milestone came in his 45th appearance for the 17-year-old.
MAJOR IMPROVEMENT: The Hitmen have won 20 games, equalling their win total from all of last season.
WHL LEADERS: Hitmen imports Victor Rask and Alex Gogolev are both tied for eighth in WHL rookie scoring with 29 points. Hitmen defenceman Collin Bowman is tied for 16th among WHL defencemen in points with 24.
WORLD JUNIORS: Rookie Victor Rask is playing for Team Sweden at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Calgary. This is the 13th straight year a Hitmen player has been part of this prestigious tournament. Sweden will face Russia in Thursday’s Gold Medal Game. Rask has an assist to go along with 11 shots on goal thus far.
TEAM PACIFIC: Greg Chase, the only 16-year-old rookie on the team this season, helped Team Pacific to a fifth place finish at the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Windsor, Ontario. In five games, Chase finished the tournament with six points (1g 5a). Two current Calgary Hitmen, Chase Clayton and Rob Trzonkowski, represented Team Pacific at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg, Manitoba one year ago.
HITMEN ALUMNUS: Keith Seabrook, who played parts of two seasons with the Hitmen (2007-08 to 2008-09) is in the American Hockey League with the San Antonio Rampage. The 23-year-old defenceman has six points (1g 5a) in 22 games.
UP NEXT: The Hitmen will play three straight at home and eight of their next nine, starting Sunday afternoon against the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Puck drop is 2:00 p.m. for the Tim Hortons Minor Hockey Day game.
Cody Sylvester 15g 26a 41pts
Jimmy Bubnick 16g 19a 35pts
Victor Rask 16g 13a 29pts
Alex Gogolev 16g 13a 29pts
Brendan Gallagher 24g 22a 46pts
Marek Tvrdon 14g 23a 37pts
Cain Franson 15g 21a 36pts
The Giants are without the following players
Anthony Ast – Team Pacific (U-17)
Brendan Gallagher – Canada (WJ)
Jackson Houck – Team Pacific (U-17)
David Musil – Czech Republic (WJ)
Marek Tvrdon – Slovakia (WJ)
Calgary is without:
Greg Chase – Team Pacific (U-17)
Victor Rask – Sweden (WJ)