HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (33-16-1-3) play game five of a season-high nine-game road trip tonight in Portland against the CHL’s number one ranked Winterhawks (43-7-1-2). Radio Broadcast on Sportsnet 960 The Fan starts at 8:00 p.m. MDT. The Hitmen have dropped three straight, their longest losing streak of the season, and are coming off a 2-0 loss in Prince Albert on Saturday night. Luke Siemens made 40 saves to record his fifth shutout of the season. Shane Danyluk shorthanded in the second period and Chance Braid even strength in the third period scored for the Raiders who were outshot 40-30. The Hitmen went 0-4 on the power play, while Prince Albert was 0-6. Calgary is third in the Eastern Conference, 13 points back of the front running Edmonton Oil Kings but with two games in hand.
VS. PORTLAND: Tonight is the first and only regular season meeting between the two clubs. Last season, Portland produced a 7-1 win in Calgary on October 25, 2011. The Hitmen outshot the Winterhawks 37-36 but Mac Carruth made 36 saves. Jason Tott led the scoring attack with three points (2g, 1a). The last time the Hitmen paid a visit to Portland was on October 13, 2010. Kris Foucault had four points (2g, 2a) in a 5-1 Calgary win. Cody Sylvester also scored twice for the Hitmen who outshot the Winterhawks 38-32. Over the last five seasons, Calgary is 3-1 against the Winterhawks including a 2-0 record in Portland.
TROUBLE SCORING: Despite the fact Calgary has fired a combined 82 shots in their last two games they haven’t scored a goal. Their last goal came early in the third period in Swift Current, a span of 135 minutes and 37 seconds ago. It’s the first time the Hitmen have been blanked in consecutive games since March 19th and 20th to close out the 2010-11 regular season against Medicine Hat. Since the birth of the franchise in the 1995-96 season, the Hitmen have never been shutout in three straight games.
300 CLUB: Brooks Macek played his 300th regular season game in the Western Hockey League Friday night in Saskatoon. The 20-year-old from Winnipeg, Manitoba is in his fifth season. After playing his first 170 games with the Tri-City Americans Macek arrived in Calgary at the January 2010 Trade Deadline. The right winger has 80 goals, 154 assists for 234 points in 301 career games.
DID YOU KNOW?: Tonight kicks off a stretch of six straight games for the Hitmen against teams from the Western Conference. Calgary will then close out the regular season with 13 straight against Eastern Conference rivals….Alex Roach is the top scoring defenceman in the Eastern Conference with 39 points (13g, 26a). His plus-35 is also number one in the Eastern Conference….The Hitmen have dropped six of their last seven games on the road after starting the season 16-2-0-1 away from Scotiabank Saddledome….Hitmen forward Pavlo Padakin is tied for fifth in goals by a rookie in the WHL with 15....Nine different Hitmen have scored 10 or more goals this season….Calgary has outshot their opponent in each of the last eight games but is only 3-5 over that span….The Hitmen have been shutout five times this season and have blanked their opposition three times….Brooks Macek and Cody Sylvester are tied for the team-lead in scoring at 58 points….This is the 18th season of Hitmen hockey and only on three previous occasions has there been a tie for top scorer at the end of the season. In the 2007-08 campaign both Ryan White and Kyle Bortis finished with 72 points. In the 2005-06 season Ryan White and Brodie Dupont finished with 53 points each, while in the 2003-04 season Ryan Getzlaf and Andrew Ladd both had 75 points.
HOME AND AWAY: Calgary is 17-8-0-1 on the road, while Portland is 23-4-0-1 at home.
TURNING ON THE RED LIGHT: Five Hitmen are having career years in the goal scoring department. Brooks Macek has set a career-high in goals at 24, three more than his previous high of 21 set in 2009-10 with Tri-City. Cody Sylvester has 26 goals in 50 games this season, three more than his previous best of 23 set last year. Alex Roach has 13 goals, topping his previous best of four set in each of the last two seasons. Greg Chase has 14 goals, eight more than the six he scored in his rookie campaign last season. Zane Jones has scored 18 times this season, topping the 14 he scored last season in Victoria.
CLIMBING THE RANKS: Now in his fifth season with Calgary, Cody Sylvester is moving up the lists of all-time scorers in club history. Sylvester has played 297 games with the Hitmen and has 82 goals, 115 assists for 197 points. The Vernon, British Columbia product is now sixth all-time in games played, tied for 11th in goals with Owen Fussey and is 10th in both assists and points.
ALUMNUS PRO WATCH: Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks is currently the top scoring Hitmen grad in the NHL. His eight points (3g 5a) in eight games have him tied for 44th in the scoring race. Getzlaf played four seasons with the Hitmen from 2001-02 to 2004-05, racking up 215 points.
MILESTONE WATCH: By setting up three more goals, Brady Brassart will reach 100 career assists. Cody Sylvester needs three more points to record his 200th career point and is three games away from reaching 300 career games played.
NHL PROSPECTS: Chris Driedger (Ottawa 2012); Kenton Helgesen (Anaheim 2012); Jaynen Rissling (Washington 2012); Alex Roach (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Los Angeles 2011); Victor Rask (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Carolina 2011).
UPCOMING GAMES: Calgary continues their five-game tour of the U.S. Division Friday night in Everett. Husky Hitmen Hockey hits the air at 8:00 p.m. MT with a 30 minute pre-game show. Calgary then visits Seattle on Saturday, before heading to Tri-City on Tuesday and Spokane on Wednesday. The next Hitmen home game is not until Saturday, February 16 when Calgary hosts the Victoria Royals.