Thursday, 21 March 2013

Game 1 Preview: Broncos at Hitmen

The Western Hockey League march to the Ed Chynoweth Cup begins tonight with a pair of playoff games.  One is in Calgary as Hitmen host the Swift Current Broncos in Game 1 of a Best-of-Seven Eastern Conference Quarter-Final Series. 

Game time is 7:00 p.m. at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Internet Broadcast on Sportsnet 960 The Fan begins at 6:30 with a 30 minute series preview show.  You can listen here:

The Hitmen enter the post season as the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference having compiled a regular season record of 46-21-1-4, good for 97 points.  The Broncos are the #6 seed posting a record of 36-29-3-4 en-route to a 79 point season.

Both clubs enter the playoffs on a roll.  Calgary has won six of their last seven games scoring a combined 41 goals for a per game average of 5.85.  Swift Current also capped the regular season on a run winning eight of their last 10 holding their opponent to two goals or less in seven of those wins.

SEASON SERIES:  Swift Current took the season series winning three of the four meetings outscoring Calgary by a combined 14-12.  Adam Lowry led all Broncos with seven points (3g 4a) while five Hitmen had at least three points against Swift Current to top Calgary.  Special teams played a key role as the Broncos went 4-11 on the powerplay (36.3%) while killing all 12 Calgary chances.  The Hitmen did lead the shot clock however firing 122 shots on goal to the Broncos 105.

Cody Sylvester 41g 49a 90pts
Brooks Macek 32g 48a 80pts
Brady Brassart 35g 43a 78pts
*Ten Hitmen finished with 14 goals or more

Swift Current
Adam Lowry 45g 43a 88pts
Coda Gordon 17g 42a 59pts
Graham Black 24g 26a 50pts
*Eight Broncos finished with 16 goals or more

Both team have five NHL players on their roster that have either been drafted or signed by NHL teams:
Chris Driedger -3rd round (76th overall) - Ottawa Senators - 2012 NHL Entry Draft
Kenton Helgesen -7th round (187th overall) - Anaheim Ducks - 2012 NHL Entry Draft
Jaynen Rissling - 7th round (197th overall) - Washington Capitals - 2012 NHL Entry Draft
Alex Roach (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Los Angeles 2011);
Victor Rask (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Carolina 2011).

Swift Current
Graham Black - 5th round (135th overall) - New Jersey Devils - 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Coda Gordon - 6th round (165th overall) - Calgary Flames - 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Adam Lowry - 3rd round (67th overall) - Winnipeg Jets - 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Reece Scarlett - 6th round (159th overall) - New Jersey Devils - 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Richard Nedomlel - 6th round (175th overall) - Detroit Red Wings - 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

NHL DRAFT RADAR:  Both teams had players ranked by NHL Central Scouting in the Mid-Term rankings as potential picks for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

#44 Dillon Heatherington - Swift Current Broncos
#94 Greg Chase - Calgary Hitmen
#111 Jay Merkley - Swift Current Broncos

#20 Eetu Laurikainen - Swift Current Broncos
#28 Mack Shields - Calgary Hitmen

PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE:  Calgary has a combined 175 games of playoff experience.  Cody Sylvester and Brooks Macek lead the way with 37 games each.  Swift Current has a combined 32 games of playoff experience.  Brent Benson tops the Broncos with 15.

HOME AND AWAY:  Calgary was 22-10-1-3 on home ice this season including an 11-2-0-1 mark since January 1st.  The Broncos were 16-17-1-2 on the road having won five of their last six games in enemy rinks.

HOLDING THE LEAD:  Calgary was 35-0-1-1 when leading after 40 minutes this season while Swift Current went 26-3-2-1 .

CALGARY BRONCOS?  Swift Current has six players from Calgary (Jay Merkley, Ryon Moser, Adam Lowry, Dillon Heatherington, Brycen Martin, Bobby Zinkan) and two more from the immediate Calgary area (Coda Gordon-Cochrane, Levi Bews-Longview)

PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENTS: Calgary's Cody Sylvester and Alex Roach are named Eastern Conference second team all-stars with Sylvester is also the Eastern Conference nominee for WHL Humanitarian of the Year.  Swift Current's Adam Lowry is an Eastern Conference first team all-star.

PLAYOFF HISTORY:  Calgary and Swift Current have met on three previous occasions in the WHL post season.  Their last was in 2008 when the Hitmen ousted the Broncos in six games in the Eastern Conference Semi-Final.  In 2002 Swift Current won their first round series in six games while in 1998 Calgary won their Eastern Conference Semi-Final in seven games.

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