One night after clinching a playoff spot for the 14th time in their 17 year history, the Calgary Hitmen (39-23-2-1) go for their 40th win of the season on the road in Cranbrook against the Kootenay Ice (34-22-4-4). Radio Broadcast on Sportsnet 960 The Fan starts at 7:00 p.m. The Hitmen wrapped up a five game homestand last night with a 4-3 OT win over Saskatoon while Kootenay hasn't played since Wednesday's 3-1 home ice loss to Edmonton.
Calgary enters the game fourth in the WHL's Eastern Conference with 81 points, four back of third place Medicine Hat and five points ahead of fifth place Kootenay. If the playoffs started today the Hitmen would face the Ice in the opening round and have home ice advantage.
Photo Credit: Chris Pullen, cranbrookphoto.com
VS. KOOTENAY: Tonight is the sixth of eight meetings. Kootenay leads the season series 4-1 having outscored Calgary by a combined 17-8. 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 seven points (7a) against Calgary while goaltender Nathan Lieuwen sports a 1.40 goals against average and a .948 save percentage stopping 127 of 134 shots. Lieuwen also leads the WHL with a 2.39 goals against average. The Hitmen and Ice will close out the regular season with a home and home series March 16th and 17th.
-Sept. 24 in KTN: Ice 5 Hitmen 1. Calgary out shot 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.
-Feb. 12 in CAL: Ice 4 Hitmen 0. Nathan Lieuwen made 26 saves to record his third shutout of the season.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 135 KTN 115 Powerplays: CAL 2-23 (8.7%) KTN 4-20 (20%)
STREAKIN': Victor Rask (7g 4a) is on a career high eight game point scoring streak. Alex Gogolev (2g 3a) has points in five straight. Jimmy Bubnick (2g 2a) is on a three game run. Spencer Humphries (1g 3a) and Collin Bowman (2a) both have points in back-to-back games. On the Kootenay side Max Reinhart (3g 2a) and Sam Reinhart (1g 1a) both have points in back-to-back games.
ICE DOMINANCE: Dating back to last season Kootenay is 11-2 in their last 13 meetings with Calgary.
HOME AND AWAY: Calgary is 19-11-2-0 on the road this season while Kootenay is 18-11-1-2 at home.