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Game Preview: Hitmen At Oil Kings Dec. 28

It’s back to work.

The Hitmen return from the Christmas break and kick off the second half of the season with a clash Friday night in Edmonton against the Oil Kings.

The two clubs faced off prior to the break on Dec. 15 which saw Edmonton come away with a 3-2 overtime victory. So far in the season series, the Hitmen are 1-1-1 against their Central Division rivals with Jake Kryski (5G, 1A) leading the Hitmen attack in the series with six points while Kaden Elder (2G, 1A) and Egor Zamula (3A) both have three.

After a 0-5-1 start to the season, the Hitmen have since gone 15-10-2-1 and sit just two points out of a wildcard spot. It’s been an impressive run as of late as they have also racked up 20 of a possible 28 points in their last 14 games posting a record of 9-3-1-1.

Edmonton meanwhile is currently in a three way tie for first place in the Central Division with 42 points, locked up with the Red Deer Rebels and Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Oil Kings have played in four more games than the Rebels and three more than the Hurricanes but have kept pace with a current 2-0-1 streak.

A big push for the Hitmen at the halfway point of the season has been the work of their special teams with both the powerplay and penalty kill ranking in the top ten of the WHL. In their last 14 tilts, the power play has been firing on all cylinders with a 13-40 mark (32.5%) while the penalty kill has gone 43-49 (87.8%).

“We’ve battled hard to get to this point and I give full credit to the guys,” head coach Steve Hamilton said. “We found our identity and have been playing our brand of hockey and we don’t want to stop, we want to keep it going.

“There’s a lot of motivation coming back from the break.”

Following the matchup, the Hitmen will return to the Scotiabank Saddledome for a Sunday afternoon clash against the Vancouver Giants.

Since arriving to Calgary, Malm has been a point a game player with 19 points in 19 games
Since arriving to Calgary, Malm has been a point a game player with 19 points in 19 games

Hitmen Streaks:

James Malm (3G, 6A) is riding a seven-game point streak.

Jake Kryski (4G, 2A) and Kaden Elder (3G, 3A) are both on four-game point streaks.

Riley Stotts (3G, 8A) and Egor Zamula (5G, 6A) have points in five of their last six games.

Hitmen Milestones:

James Malm is two games shy of 200 and one assist away from 100.

Riley Stotts is one game away from 150 in his career.

Kaden Elder is three points away from 100.

Jack McNaughton needs six saves for 500.

Hitmen

Record: 15-15-3-1

Goals For: 122

Goals Against: 123

Leaders:

Goals: Mark Kastelic (23)

Assists: Egor Zamula (21)

Points: Kastelic, Jake Kryski (37)

Powerplay Goals: Kastelic (11)

Shorthanded Goals: Kastelic (2)

Shots: Kastelic (127)

Top Goalie: Jack McNaughton, 9-8-1-1, 3.25 GAA, 0.888 SV%

Oil Kings

Record: 18-12-4-2

Goals For: 138

Goals Against: 124

Leaders:

Goals: Brett Kemp (22)

Assists: Trey Fix-Wolansky (43)

Points: Fix-Wolansky (64)

Powerplay Goals: Vince Loschiavo (7)

Shorthanded Goals: Quinn Benjafield (3)

Shots: Fix-Wolansky (147)

Top Goalie: Dylan Myskiw 14-7-2-1, 2.96 GAA, .902 SV%

The Hitmen powerplay now sits in the top five in the WHL with the recent stretch
The Hitmen powerplay now sits in the top five in the WHL with the recent stretch

Special Teams Rankings:

Hitmen

Powerplay: 30 for 116 25.9% (5th Overall)

Penalty Kill: 79.3% (8th Overall)

Oil Kings

Powerplay: 39 for 156 25% (6th Overall)

Penalty Kill: 77.3% (12th Overall)

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