The Calgary Hitmen (32-22-2-1) open a three game BC Division road trip tonight on Vancouver Island against the Victoria Royals (17-33-2-4). Radio Broadcast on Sportsnet 960 The Fan starts at 8:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.
Heading in, the Hitmen have dropped four in a row and five of their last six after an impressive 14-1 run. Calgary is coming off Sunday's 4-0 home ice loss to Kootenay. Victoria meanwhile has also had trouble of late having lost three in a row. The Royals haven't played since a February 8th 3-2 home ice loss to Everett.
Calgary sits sixth in the highly competitive Eastern Conference with 67 points, two back of Saskatoon for fifth and three points ahead of seventh place Regina. Victoria meanwhile holds the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot with 40 points. It should be noted that 11 of the 12 Eastern Conference teams have more points than the Royals.
Photo Credit: Jon Howe
Tonight is the second and final regular season meeting between the two clubs. Calgary won the first 9-4 in Victoria on January 3rd. Chase Clayton scored his first career WHL hat-trick while fellow Hitmen Cody Sylvester (1g 2a) and Jimmy Bubnick (2g 2a) both had four point games. The Hitmen out shot the Royals 27-26 while going 3-4 on the powerplay and killing 2 of 3 Victoria chances.
INSIDE THE SLIDE: During Calgary's recent 1-5 run they have been outscored by a combined 26-17, giving up an average of 4.3 goals per game. The special teams battle has also been lopsided with Calgary going just 1-20 (5%) on the powerplay. During that same stretch the opposition powerplay has gone 9-28 (32.1%).
BUBNICK'S BEST: Jimmy Bubnick has tied his WHL career high in points with 57, matching his season totals from the 2008/09 season when he starred for the Kamloops Blazers.
DID YOU KNOW? Victoria has given up a WHL high 270 goals, compared to 179 by the Hitmen.
Jimmy Bubnick 26g 31a 57pts
Cody Sylvester 18g 38a 56pts
Brady Brassart 18g 26a 44pts
Jamie Crooks 30g 28a 58pts
Logan Nelson 20g 31a 51pts
Robin Soudek 22g 26a 48pts
NHL WATCH: At 108th among North American skaters, Logan Nelson is the highest ranked Royal by Central Scouting for the 2012 NHL entry draft.
CALGARY INJURY NOTES:
#9, Jaynen Rissling, Lower body, 2 weeks
#19, Calder Brooks, Upper body, 1 week
VICTORIA INJURY NOTES:
#3, Zach Habscheid, Lower body, 1 month+
#18, Brandon Magee, Lower body, day to day
#7, Tyler Stahl, 1 game remaining