Thursday, 18 April 2013

Game 1 Preview: Hitmen at Oil Kings

The Western Hockey League march to the Ed Chynoweth Cup continues tonight as the Calgary Hitmen visit the Edmonton Oil Kings in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Final.

Game time is 7:00 p.m. at Rexall Place. Radio Broadcast on Sportsnet 960 The Fan begins at six o'clock with a 60 minute pre-game show.

REGULAR SEASON REFLECTION: The Hitmen entered 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 Oil Kings were the #1 seed posting a record of 51-15-2-4 en-route to a 108 point campaign.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Calgary beat the Swift Current Broncos in five games to win their opening round series with three of the games decided in overtime.  The Hitmen followed that with a five game series win over Red Deer with two games decided in OT.  Edmonton beat Kootenay in five games to capture their first round match before sweeping Medicine Hat in four games.

ROLLING INTO ROUND THREE: Dating back to the regular season both clubs are playing well. Calgary has won 14 of their last 17 games. Edmonton is 16-1-0-1 in their last 18 games holding their opponent to two goals or less in 15 of those wins.

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

Michael St. Croix 37g 55a 92pts
Dylan Wruck 22g 63a 85pts
Henrik Samuelsson 33g 47a 80pts
*Nine Oil Kings finished with 12 goals or more

There are a combined 15 players in the series that have either been drafted or signed by NHL teams. The Hitmen have five:
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 (Signed a three-year entry-level contract with Los Angeles Kings on September 26, 2011 following an invite to training camp)
Victor Rask (Drafted in the 2nd round (42nd overall 2011) by Carolina and signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Hurricanes on October 20, 20111

Griffin Reinhart (Drafted in the first round (4th overall 2012)) by New York and signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Islanders on August 2nd, 2012
Henrik Samuelsson (Drafted in the first round (27th overall 2012) by Phoenix and signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Coyotes on March 11, 2013
Mitchell Moroz (Drafted in the second round (30th overall) -Edmonton Oilers - 2012 NHL Entry Draft
David Musil (Drafted in the second round (31st overall 2011) by Edmonton and signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Oilers on June 30, 2012
Travis Ewanyk (Drafted in the third round (48th overall 2011) by Edmonton and signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Oilers on March 22, 2013
Keegan Lowe (Drafted in the third round (73rd overall 2011) by Carolina and signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Hurricanes on March 13, 2013)
Michael St. Croix (Drafted in the fourth round (106th overall 2011)) by New York and signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Rangers on September 14, 2012)
Martin Gernat Drafted in the fifth round (122nd overall) - Edmonton Oilers - 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Laurent Brossoit (Drafted in the sixth round (164th overall 2011) by Calgary and signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Flames on April 4, 2013)
Trevor Cheek (Signed as a free agent by the Colorado Avalanche to a three-year entry-level contract on April 1, 2013

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.

#26 Curtis Lazar - Edmonton Oil Kings
#94 Greg Chase - Calgary Hitmen

#3 Tristan Jarry - Edmonton Oil Kings
#28 Mack Shields - Calgary Hitmen

HOME AND AWAY: Calgary is 2-2 on the road during the 2013 playoffs with all four games decided in overtime.  The Hitmen were 24-11-0-1 in enemy rinks during the regular season.  Edmonton is 4-1 on home ice in the post season having outscored their opponents by a combined 20-4.  The Oil Kings were 26-6-1-3 at Rexall Place in the regular season.

AWAY FROM THE 'DOME:  This series marks the first time since the 2007 Eastern Conference Final against Medicine Hat that the Hitmen have not had home ice advantage in a playoff series.  Calgary last opened a series on the road in 2008 when due to building availability they had to play the first two games of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final against the Broncos in Swift Current.

WHL AWARD FINALISTS:  Calgary's Cody Sylvester is up against Mitch Topping of the Tri-City Americans for the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy as Humanitarian of the Year.  Edmonton's Dylan Wruck is the Eastern Conference nominee for the Brad Hornung Trophy as Most Sportsmanlike Player.  His competition is Zach Franko of the Kelowna Rockets.  Oil Kings General Manger Bob Green is up against Kelowna Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton for the Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy as Executive of the Year.  Award winners will be announced on May 1st.

Victor Rask 4g 9a 13pts
Cody Sylvester 4g 5a 9pts
Brooks Macek 2g 6a 8pts
Greg Chase 2g 5a 7pts

Stephane Legault 5g 8a 13pts
Michael St. Croix 6g 6a 12pts
Henrik Samuelsson 6g 5a 11pts
Trevor Cheek 5g 5a 10pts

SPECIAL TEAMS STATS:  Calgary's powerplay is 6-40 (15%) in the playoffs while the penalty kill has gone 33-41 (80.5%).  Edmonton's powerplay is 10-37 (27%) while the penalty kill is 45-47 (95.7%).

And in case you missed it on the radio, Sportsnet960 The Fan (Well done Boomer and Walks!) has put together a musical piece to get you ready for the Hitmen and Oil Kings.  Find it here called "The Hitmen Song"

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