VS. SPOKANE: Tonight is the first and only regular season meeting. Last season Calgary produced a 3-2 overtime win at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 2nd, 2011. Victor Rask scored the game winner at 2:26 of sudden death after the Chiefs erased a 2-0 third period deficit. The last time the Hitmen paid a visit to Spokane was on October 20th, 2010. The Chiefs posted an 8-1 win. Blake Gal led the Spokane scoring attack with a hat trick as the Chiefs outshot the Hitmen 52-20. Over the last five seasons Calgary is 1-2-0-1 against the Chiefs including a 0-1-0-1 record in the U-S.
FOUR IN A ROW AND COUNTING: The Hitmen are riding a four game winning streak dating back to last Wednesday’s 4-3 win in Portland. During this run they have outscored their opponents by a combined 19-9. Cody Sylvester (4g 3a) and Jake Virtanen (2g 3a) both have points in each of the four wins while Victor Rask (4g 2a) has points in three straight. Brooks Macek (2g 4a) and Brady Brassart (1g 1a) both have points in back-to-back games. Chris Driedger has won his last three starts in goal posting a .932 save percentage.
BRASSART RETURNS: Brady Brassart makes his first trip back to Spokane tonight since the Hitmen acquired him from the Chiefs on August 18th, 2011 in exchange for a conditional fourth round pick in 2012. Brassart broke into the Western Hockey League with the Chiefs playing both his 16 and 17-year-old seasons. During that time he appeared in 118 regular season games scoring 17 goals while collecting 30 assists for 47 points. Brassart also played 16 playoff games picking up three points (1g 2a). He was Spokane’s Rookie of the Year in 2010 and was a two time winner of the Chiefs Scholastic Player of the Year Award in 2010 and 2011.
CLIMBING THE COACHING RANKS: Mike Williamson ranks third on the Hitmen franchise list for most regular season coaching wins. Dean Clark leads the way with 183 followed by Kelly Kisio at 163 then Williamson with 153. Williamson has coached 801 career regular season games in the Western Hockey League. He became only the 12th bench boss in league history to reach the 800 game mark last Saturday in Seattle.
HISTORICAL MARK: Captain Cody Sylvester is climbing the franchise record books. In his fifth season with the club, he is now sixth all-time in games played (301), 11th in goals (86) and 10th in both assists (118) and points (204). He need two goals to tie Brett Sonne for 10th in goals with 88 and is two points shy of Brandon Segal for ninth place in points at 206.
DID YOU KNOW? Both Victor Rask and Spencer Humphries were both +4 last night in Tri-City. For Rask it was a career high while Humphries tied his personal best achieved on three previous occasions….Elliott Peterson returned to the Hitmen line-up last night after missing 19 games with an upper body injury….Calgary is 28-0-1-1 when leading after 40 minutes this season….Following tonight’s game in Spokane, the Hitmen will play only five of their remaining 14 games on the road….The Hitmen scored the opening goal last night for the first time in six games and for only the second time in their last eight contests....Following tonight against Spokane and Friday against Victoria, the Hitmen will close out the regular season with 13 straight against Eastern Conference rivals facing Kootenay the most at three times….Alex Roach is the top scoring defenceman in the Eastern Conference with 43 points. His plus 39 is also number one in the Eastern Conference….Hitmen forward Pavlo Padakin is tied for fifth in goals by a rookie in the WHL with 16 while his 29 points is 13th best among rookies….Nine different Hitmen have scored 10 or more goals this season while Cody Sylvester has become the first to hit the 30 goal mark….Calgary has been outshot in three of their last four games but have won all four …The Hitmen have been shutout five times this season and have blanked their opposition three times…. Cody Sylvester (65pts) and Brooks Macek (65pts) are in a battle for the team lead in scoring. 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….NHL Central Scouting has released their mid-term rankings for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft with two members of the Calgary Hitmen cracking the list. Forward Greg Chase, in his second season, is ranked 94th among North American Skaters. Rookie Mack Shields is ranked 28th among North American goalies…. Calgary is 21-8-0-1 on the road while Spokane is 18-9-1-0 at home….By setting up two more goals Brady Brassart will reach 100 career regular season assists while Chris Driedger is 12 saves shy of 2,500 career regular season stops.
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 27, six more than his previous high of 21 set in 2009-10 with Tri-City. Cody Sylvester has 30 goals this season, seven more than his previous best of 23 set last year. Alex Roach has 14 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.
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 plays their first home game in 20 days on Saturday when they welcome former teammate Alex Gogolev and the Victoria Royals. Game time is 7:00 p.m. at Scotiabank Saddledome. It’s the start of a three game home stand for the Hitmen who also welcome Regina on Sunday for a 4:00 p.m. start and Prince Albert on Friday, February 22nd.