The Calgary Hitmen (38-23-2-1) close out a five game homestand tonight against the Saskatoon Blades (36-25-0-2). The Hitmen, winners of six of their last seven, are coming off Wednesday's 5-4 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. The Blades, with just two wins in their last eight (2-5-0-1), haven't played since last Saturday's 4-3 home ice shootout loss to Red Deer.
Calgary enters the night fourth in the WHL's Eastern Conference with 79 points, four back of third place Medicine Hat, and three points up on fifth place Kootenay. Saskatoon is sixth in the conference with 74 points, trailing Kootenay by two points but just a single point ahead of Regina for seventh.
Photo Credit: Steve Hiscock
Tonight is the fourth and final regular season meeting. Saskatoon leads the season series 2-1. Jimmy Bubnick (3g 2a) and Cody Sylvester (2g 3a) both have five points each against Saskatoon. The Blades are led by Josh Nicholls (2g 3a) and Matej Stransky (1g 4a) who both have five points each against Calgary.
-Nov. 2 in SASK: Blades 4 Hitmen 1. Andrey Makarov made 39 saves in a first star performance.
-Nov. 20 in CAL: Blades 6 Hitmen 5. Lukas Sutter scored twice including the game winner.
-Nov. 25 in SASK: Hitmen 6 Blades 2. Jimmy Bubnick scored twice.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on goal: CAL 122 SASK 97 Powerplays: CAL 2-12 (16.7%) SASK 1-12 (8.3%)
STREAKIN': Victor Rask (6g 4a) is on a career high seven game point scoring streak. Alex Gogolev (2g 2a) has points in four straight. Jimmy Bubnick (1g 1a) and Alex Roach (2a) both have points in back-to-back games. Brandon Glover has won his last two starts stopping 48 of 52 shots for a .923 save percentage. On the Saskatoon side Josh Nicholls (2g 5a) is on a five game point streak. Brent Benson (2g) has scored in two straight games while Dalton Thrower (1g 1a) has points in back-to-back games. 2012 World Junior Silver Medallist Andrey Makarov has been a work horse in Saskatoon starting the last 15 straight games in goal.
FAMILIAR FACE: The Saskatoon Blades defence features #4 Kyle Schmidt. The Waldheim, Saskatchewan product was acquired by the Blades from Calgary on September 15th, 2011 in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. Schmidt has nine points (2g 7a) in 52 games this season and is also a +6.
POST CHRISTMAS RUN: Calgary dropped their first game after the Christmas Break in Prince George, since that time in their last 29 games they have gone 21-7.
DID YOU KNOW? Calgary's magic number to clinch a playoff spot is two. Any combination of Hitmen wins combined with Red Deer losses totalling two and Calgary officially clinches a berth in the 2012 post season. It could happen tonight as the Rebels are also in action hosting Swift Current.
HOME AND AWAY: Calgary is 19-12-0-1 on home ice this season while Saskatoon is 13-15-0-1 on the road.
SPOTLIGHT: Hitmen defenceman Spencer Humphries is coming off a three point night (1g 2a) in Calgary's Wednesday victory over Swift Current. It's the third time this season the assistant captain has notched three points in a single game. The 19-year-old, who came over from Tri-City at the January 2011 WHL Trade Deadline, was named the clubs top defenceman last season. In 54 games this season, #5 has a career high 33 points (7g 26a). His +16 rating is also a personal best.
Jimmy Bubnick 29g 35a 64pts
Cody Sylvester 20g 42a 62pts
Victor Rask 29g 25a 54pts
Matej Stransky 34g 30a 64pts
Josh Nicholls 25g 30a 55pts
Michael Burns 23g 32a 55pts
#9, Jaynen Rissling, Lower body, day to day
#11, Brooks Macek, Upper body, 1 week
#2, Matt Pufahl, Lower body, 3 weeks
#3, Connor Cox, Lower body, 2 weeks
#5, Duncan Siemens, Upper body, 1 week