Friday, 9 March 2012

Calgary at Lethbridge

The Calgary Hitmen (40-24-2-1) wrap up a three game road trip tonight against the Lethbridge Hurricanes (27-39-0-1).  Internet Broadcast on begins at 7:00 p.m.  The Hitmen are coming off Tuesday’s 3-2 win in Red Deer.  Jimmy Bubnick, Brady Brassart and Chase Clayton all scored for Calgary who built period leads of 1-0 and 2-1.  Brandon Glover made 33 saves in a third star performance while Victor Rask, Brock Sutherland and Collin Bowman were all +2.  Lethbridge meanwhile opened a three game home stand Tuesday night with a 2-1 win over Moose Jaw.  The Hurricanes were out shot 38-17 but Damien Ketlo made 37 saves in a first star performance. 

At 83 points, Calgary is fourth in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, trailing third place Medicine Hat by two points while leading fifth place Kootenay by three.  All three teams have five games remaining on their regular season schedule.  Lethbridge has 55 points to sit 11th in the conference.  They will miss the playoffs for the third year in a row.

                                                Photo Credit: Brad Watson

VS. LETHBRIDGE:  Tonight is the fifth of six meetings with the Hurricanes.  Calgary is 2-1-1-0 against the ‘Canes.  Three times Calgary has fired a season high 47 shots in a single game against Lethbridge.  The team scoring first has won three of the four meetings.  Over the last five seasons Calgary is 7-5-2-0 in their last 14 visits to the Enmax Centre.  This season they are winless (0-1-1-0) in two visits.  Alex Gogolev tops the Hitmen with eight points (3g 5a) in the season series while Brady Brassart (4g 2a) and Victor Rask (3g 3a) have six points each.  The recently traded Cam Braes leads Lethbridge in scoring against the Hitmen with eight points (5g 3a) while Brody Sutter is next with six (2g 4a). 
-Sept. 30 in Leth: Hurricanes 6 Hitmen 5.  Brandon Anderson made 42 saves in the ‘Canes net.  Jay Merkely 2g 1a.
-Nov. 13 in Cal: Hitmen 6 Hurricanes 2.  Alex Gogolev 2g 2a.
- Dec. 14 in Leth: Hurricanes 6 Hitmen 5 OT.  Cam Braes forced sudden death with 25 seconds remaining leading to Graham Hood’s winner 21 seconds into the extra session.
-Jan. 8 in Cal: Hitmen 6 Hurricanes 3.  Brady Brassart (2g 1) and Brooks Macek (1g 2a) both had three points each.
                                                               INSIDE THE SERIES
SHOTS ON GOAL: Cal 170 Leth 120  POWERPLAYS: Cal 7-20 (35%) Leth 5-16 (31.3%)
They will close out their season series Wednesday, March 14th in Calgary.

ROAD WARRIORS:  Calgary holds a record of 10-3-0-0 in their last 13 road contests.  Following tonight the Hitmen have just one road game left in the regular season, next Friday in Cranbrook against the Kootenay Ice.

HOME AND AWAY:  Calgary is 20-12-2-0 on the road this season while Lethbridge is 17-17-0-0 at home.

DID YOU KNOW?  11 Hitmen have at least 10 or more goals this season, including five players with more than 20.  A year ago only seven Hitmen hit the double digit goals total. 

PLAYOFF BOUND:  After missing the playoffs last season, Calgary his heading back to the post season for the 14th time in their 17 year history.  Calgary’s magic number to clinch home ice advantage in the opening round is four.  Any combination of Calgary wins combined with Kootenay losses totalling four means the Hitmen will open the playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome.

STREAKS:  None.  Alex Gogolev (2g, 4a) had his six-game point streak snapped Tuesday in Red Deer.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT:  The Hitmen have added their first round pick from the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft to the roster for the remainder of the season.  15-year-old Jake Virtanen had 39 points (17g 22a) in 39 games this season with the Fraser Valley Bruins.

FINAL PUSH:  Since returning from the Christmas break, the Hitmen are 23-9-0-0.  Following tonight’s campaign, four games remain in the 2011-12 regular season.  Calgary returns to Scotiabank Saddledome to host the Rebels on Sunday at 4pm before welcoming the Hurricanes next Wednesday. The Hitmen will then wrap up the regular season with a home-and-home series against Kootenay, starting Friday, March 16 in Cranbrook and concluding Saturday, March 17 on home ice.

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