Friday, 21 September 2012

Hitmen open WHL season tonight in Red Deer

The Calgary Hitmen open their 18th Western Hockey League season tonight on the road in Red Deer against the Rebels.  Radio Broadcast on Sportsnet 960 The Fan begins at 7pm with a 30 minute pre-game show.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:  After missing the playoffs in 2011, the Hitmen roared back last season to finish third overall in the Eastern Conference with a record of 44-25-2-1, good for 91 points.  (Home: 22-13-0-1, Road: 22-12-2-0).  However they were ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Brandon Wheat Kings in five games.  Meanwhile after finishing second in the conference in 2010-11, Red Deer missed the playoffs last season finishing ninth with a record of 32-34-1-5, good for 70 points.  (Home: 16-17-1-2, Road 16-17-0-3).

OPENING NIGHT: Lifetime in season openers the Hitmen have 9 wins, 4 losses, 3 overtime losses and 1 tie.  Last season the Hitmen also started the campaign on the road, falling 5-1 in Cranbrook to the Kootenay Ice.

VS. RED DEER: Tonight is the first of six meetings between the two clubs.  Two seasons ago Red Deer won five of the six meetings, but last season it was Calgary's turn to take five of six.  Here is a look back at Calgary's 2011-12 dominance over their Central Division rivals.
   - Oct. 7 in Calgary: Rebels 4 Hitmen 2.  Rebels goalie Patrik Bartosak made 32 saves.
   - Jan. 17 in Red Deer: Hitmen 5 Rebels 1.  Alex Gogolev scored two goals and set up two others.
   - Jan. 22 in Calgary: Hitmen 4 Rebels 2.  Chris Driedger made 41 saves for Calgary.
   - Feb. 4 in Red Deer: Hitmen 6 Rebels 2.  Calgary scored four first period goals.  Jimmy Bubnick posted five points (2g, 3a).
   - Mar. 6 in Red Deer: Hitmen 3 Rebels 2.  Brandon Glover made 33 saves for Calgary.
   - Mar. 11 in Calgary: Hitmen 5 Rebels 2.  Brady Brassart scored twice.
                                                     INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 199 RD 174      Power Plays: CAL 2-21 (9.5%)  RD 5-26 (19.2%)

THE ROSTER:  The Hitmen have 26 players on the roster, including four overage 20 year-olds.  Teams are only allowed to dress a maximum of three per game.  The numbers break down as follows; 4-20's (Macek, Humphries, Cheek, Sylvester), 6-19's (Kornelsen, Brassart, Rask, Kosterman, Roach, Rissling), 8-18's (Clayton, Padakin, Brooks, Samoridny, Jones, Helgesen, Henry, Driedger), 5-17's (Calladine, Chase, Peterson, Harmsworth, Shields), 3-16's (Lang, Virtanen, Thrower).

RETURNING PLAYERS:  The Hitmen have 15 returning players from last years team including four of their top six scorers (#2 Cody Sylvester 68pts, #3 Victor Rask 63pts, #4 Brady Brassart 59pts, #6 Trevor Cheek 49pts)

THE IMPORTS:  The Hitmen selected 18-year-old Pavlo Padakin (RW) from Ukraine 50th overall in the 2012 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.  Padakin played Junior A last season with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs collecting 33 points (15g 18a) in 51 games.  During the pre-season he had one goal in five contests.  Victor Rask returns to start the season with the Hitmen after Calgary took him 3rd overall in the 2011 CHL Import Draft.  Rask, a signed pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, will attend their AHL affiliates Training Camp with the Charlotte Checkers beginning September 29th leaving his return status to Calgary up in the air for now.

PRE-SEASON:  Calgary went 4-2 while Red Deer was 0-5-1-0.  Brooks Macek led all Hitmen with seven points (3g 4a) while Trace Elson topped the Rebels with three (2g 1a).

DID YOU KNOW?  Not only does Hitmen defenceman Jaynen Rissling begin a new season tonight but he'll do so on his 19th birthday.

HOME OPENER: The Adrenalin Source for Sports Home Opener is Saturday, September 22nd against the Kootenay Ice.  Game time is 7:00 pm at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Radio Broadcast on Sportsnet 960 The Fan begins at 6:00pm with a 60 minute pre-game show.  Fans will also have a chance at the home opener to buy a piece of franchise history.  The club will hold its annual game worn jersey auction.  All black jerseys from the 2010-11 season are up for bid.  Net proceeds go to the Hitmen Education Fund which supports post secondary study for alumni players.  The silent auction will take place on the Saddledome concourse by section 226.  All bids will close when the puck drops at the start the third period.  Winners also receive a letter of authenticity.

HITMEN HOCKEY SHOW:  Sportsnet 960 The Fan will be live on location on Saturday, September 22nd at Adrenaline Source for Sports (9309 Macleod Trail) for three hours of Hitmen hockey talk from Noon til 3 in advance of the Adrenalin Source for Sports Home Opener. 

RULE CHANGES:  For the upcoming season, the WHL Playing Rule changes include:

1. Adoption of a staged fighting rule.  Should a fight occur following a face-off during a game, it will be considered a staged fight.  Should a stage fight occur during a pre-season, regular season or playoff game, the players involved shall each receive an automatic game misconduct in addition to the major penalty.  Should one player clearly initiate or instigate the fight, only that player will receive the game misconduct in addition to a minor penalty  for instigating the fight.  Should the linesmen intervene and prevent the fight from starting, the players involved will each receive misconduct penalties.

2. A delay of game penalty will be assessed any time a player places his hand over the puck while it is on the ice in order to conceal it from an opponent or to prevent an opponent from playing the puck.

3. A delay of game penalty will be assessed to any player taking a face-off who uses his hand to direct the puck in any direction.

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