The Calgary Hitmen open a mini two game home stand tonight against the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup host Saskatoon Blades. Game time is 7:00 p.m. at Scotiabank Saddledome. It's Western Night with fans encouraged to dust off their hat and boots and cowboy up for a night of western fun. Husky Hitmen Hockey on Sportsnet 960 The Fan begins at 7 o'clock.
THE STANDINGS: Calgary is 40-18-1-3 sitting third in the Eastern Conference with 84 points. Saskatoon is 39-21-0-2 good for the East Division lead and thus the second seed in the conference with 81 points.
Photo Credit: Steve Hiscock
COMING IN: Calgary has won seven of their last nine but are coming off Saturday's 5-1 loss in Cranbrook to the Kootenay Ice. Saskatoon is the hottest team in the WHL right now riding a franchise record 16 game winning streak. The Blades last loss was January 23rd at home to Edmonton. The Blades were 4-0 winners in Red Deer last night.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Tonight is the third of four regular season meetings. Saskatoon leads the season series 2-0 having outscored Calgary by a combined 10-0. Brenden Walker (3g 2a) leads the Blades with five points against Calgary while Russian World Junior goalie Andrey Makarov has back-to-back shutouts stopping a combined 67 shots.
-Nov 30/12 in Calgary: Blades 4 Hitmen 0
-Feb 1/13 in Saskatoon: Blades 6 Hitmen 0
HOME AND AWAY: Calgary is riding a season high eight game home ice winning streak which began January 2nd against Brandon. Since then they have outscored their opponents by a combined 45-18 at the 'Dome. Overall the Hitmen are 19-8-1-2 on home ice. Saskatoon is on a season high seven game road winning streak which started January 22nd in Brandon. Since then the Blades have outscored their opponents by a combined 31-8. Overall Saskatoon is 20-10-0-1 in enemy rinks.
STREAKIN': Hitmen rookie import Pavlo Padakin is on a three game goal scoring streak. With just one goal in his first 14 games to start the season Padakin has 18 goals in the 46 games since. Chris Driedger has won his last two starts in goal and five of his last six.
INJURY REPORT: The Hitmen might be without the services of three 19-year-old defencemen tonight.
#4 Peter Kosterman, D, lower body, day-to-day
#9 Jaynen Rissling, D, lower body, day-to-day
#7 Alex Roach, D, upper body, day-to-day
#41 Jessey Astles, F, upper body, 1 month
Cody Sylvester 33g 38a 71pts
Brooks Macek 28g 43a 71pts
Brady Brassart 26g 35a 61pts
Matej Stransky 37g 40a 77pts
Josh Nicholls 40g 31a 71pts
Brenden Walker 27g 36a 63pts
DID YOU KNOW: The Hitmen have been shutout five times this season and have blanked their opposition three times…. Cody Sylvester (71pts) and Brooks Macek (71pts) 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
POWERPLAY SLUMP: The Hitmen are in an 0-10 drought with the man advantage. Their last powerplay goal was three games ago in the third period against Regina.
UP NEXT: Calgary welcomes the Swift Current Broncos to the 'Dome on Friday before heading out on a three game road trip to Medicine Hat (Sunday), Saskatoon (Tuesday) and Prince Albert (Wednesday).