The Calgary Hitmen (32-21-2-1) host Central Division rival Kootenay Ice (30-17-4-4) in a 4:00 p.m. start today at Scotiabank Saddledome. The Hitmen are coming off Friday's 4-2 home ice loss to Moose Jaw while the Ice beat Saskatoon 5-2 in Cranbrook last night.
The Hitmen sit sixth in the WHL's Eastern Conference with 67 points, just a point behind Kootenay for fifth, but five points ahead of seventh place Regina.
HEADING IN: Both teams enter play hungry for a victory. After a stretch that saw the Hitmen win 14 of 15 games, Calgary is just 1-4 since. Kootenay meanwhile snapped a two game losing streak with last night's home ice win over Saskatoon. The Ice are just 3-4-1-1 in their last nine.
Photo Credit: cranbrookphoto.com
VS. KOOTENAY: Today is the fifth of eight meetings. Kootenay leads the season series 3-1 having outscored Calgary by a combined 13-8. Brooks Macek (2g), Danny Gayle (1g, 1a), Victor Rask (1g, 1a), Brady Brassart (2a) and Jaynen Rissling (2a) all have two points each to lead the Hitmen in the season series. Brock Montgomery tops all Ice with six points (6a) against Calgary while goaltender Nathan Lieuwen sports a 1.76 goals against average and a .935 save percentage stopping 101 of 108 shots. Lieuwen also leads the WHL with a 2.30 goals against average. The Hitmen and Ice will meet again on March 3rd in Cranbrook.
-Sept. 24 in KTN: Ice 5 Hitmen 1. Calgary outshot Kootenay 30-18 in the loss.
-Oct. 2 in CAL: Hitmen 4 Ice 2. Calgary erased a 2-1 third period deficit. Victor Rask and Danny Gayle led the Hitmen scoring attack with two points (1g, 1a) each.
-Oct. 23 in CAL: Ice 4 Hitmen 2. Kootenay jumped out to a 3-0 second period lead.
-Feb. 3 in KTN: Ice 2 Hitmen 1. Sam Reinhart scored the game winner, his second of the game, with just one second left in regulation.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 109 KTN 90 Powerplays: CAL 2-20 (10%) KTN 2-13 (15.3%)
POWER OUTAGE: Part of the recent Hitmen struggles of late can be blamed on their lack of special teams production. Calgary is a combined 1-17 (5.9%) on the powerplay in their last five games. During that same stretch the opposition powerplay has gone 7-21 (33.3%).
HOME AND AWAY: Calgary is 16-10-0-1 on home ice this season while Kootenay is 13-9-3-2 on the road.
BUSY DAYS: Today is Calgary's four game in six days. For Kootenay it's their third game in as many days and also their fourth in six days.
STREAKIN': Trevor Cheek (3g 2a) and Brock Sutherland (1g 4a) are both on four game point streaks. Brady Brassart (2g 2a) is on a three game streak. Jimmy Bubnick (2g 2a) has points in back-to-back games.
Jimmy Bubnick 26g 31a 56pts
Cody Sylvester 18g 38a 56pts
Brady Brassart 18g 26a 44pts
Max Reinhart 20g 39a 59pts
Sam Reinhart 23g 28a 51pts
Jesse Ismond 14g 34a 48pts
WHL NOTEBOOK: Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers has one more shot at reaching 50 goals in 50 games. The Tigers host Brandon tonight. Etem enters the contest with 49 goals in 49 games. As an FYI Etem has scored three goals against the Hitmen this season in five games.