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Game Preview: Hitmen vs Rockets Dec. 14

Five is in sight.

The Hitmen kick off the final weekend before the holiday break Friday night against the Kelowna Rockets. With already riding a season-high four game win streak, the Hitmen look to extend the streak to five.

Last weekend saw a pair of wins on Scotiabank Saddledome ice, with 3-2 and 6-3 victories over the Swift Current Broncos and Kamloops Blazers.

The most recent win over the Blazers was during The Brick Teddy Bear Toss which saw a franchise record 29,635 stuffed animals tossed out onto the ice after Kaden Elder scored four minutes in. Egor Zamula scored a pair of goals while Jake Kryski, Tye Carriere and James Malm all chipped in with markers.


Hitmen vs Blazers Dec. 9


Kelowna meanwhile are coming off a 5-1 loss to Lethbridge on Wednesday that snapped a three-game winning streak. With a 6-3-0-1 mark in their last ten, the Rockets have turned things around after a slow start to the season to sit second in the B.C. Division, three points up on Victoria.

With a recent run of 7-2-0-1, the Hitmen have climbed back to .500 hockey. After a 0-5-1 start to the year they have since gone 14-9-1-1. Even more impressive is in their last eleven tilts, the Hitmen have racked up 17 out of possible 22 points to stay in the hunt in the playoff race.

With a three-in-three weekend headed into the break, it’s a big set of games with two key divisional battles.

“I like our team a lot,” head coach Steve Hamilton said. “We had to grind our way back to relevancy and to .500. These past games have been important for our play and confidence.

“It’s going to be a busy weekend but our guys have typically played well in those stretches. The Christmas break doesn’t come any earlier so we need to be dialed in and head into the break trending upward.”

The Hitmen will travel out on the road for a quick stop Saturday afternoon in Edmonton before returning home to take on the Hurricanes Sunday.

Riley Stotts has had three assists or more in two of his last three games
Riley Stotts has had three assists or more in two of his last three games

Hitmen Streaks:

James Malm (3G, 3A) and Egor Zamula (4G, 3A) are both riding four-game point streaks.

Riley Stotts (1G, 7A) is on a three-game streak.

Dakota Krebs (3A) and Carson Focht (2A) both have points in back-to-back games.

Goaltender Jack McNaughton has won his last four starts stopping 93 of 102 shots for a .912 save percentage.

Hitmen Milestones:

James Malm is five games shy of 200 and four assists away from 100.

Jack McNaughton is 35 minutes away from 1,000.

Hitmen

Record: 14-14-2-1

Goals For: 111

Goals Against: 113

Leaders:

Goals: Mark Kastelic (22)

Assists: Jake Kryski (19)

Points: Kastelic (36)

Powerplay Goals: Kastelic (11)

Shorthanded Goals: Kastelic (2)

Shots: Kastelic (122)

Top Goalie: Jack McNaughton, 8-7-0-1, 3.23 GAA, 0.887 SV%

Rockets

Record: 15-15-2

Goals For: 89

Goals Against: 102

Leaders:

Goals: Nolan Foote (18)

Assists: Kyle Topping (24)

Points: Topping (37)

Powerplay Goals: Foote (10)

Shorthanded Goals: Foote, Topping (1)

Shots: Leif Mattson (112)

Top Goalie: Roman Basran, 10-10-1, 3.03 GAA, 0.899 SV%

The Hitmen has gone 11-33 (33.3%) while the penalty kill is 35-40 (87.5%) in the last eleven games
The Hitmen have gone 11-33 (33.3%) on the powerplay while the penalty kill is 35-40 (87.5%) in the last eleven games

Special Teams Rankings:

Hitmen

Powerplay: 26 for 104 25% (6th Overall)

Penalty Kill: 77.9% (12th Overall)

Rockets

Powerplay: 30 for 125 24% (8th Overall)

Penalty Kill: 78.7% (8th Overall)

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