HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (2-0-0-0) will try to remain unbeaten in the early stages of the 2012-13 season as they tangle with the defending WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings (3-0-0-0). It has been an electric start to the year for the Hitmen. Following a 3-2 win in Red Deer last Friday, Calgary hosted Kootenay in the Adrenalin Source For Sports Home Opener on Sept. 22nd that saw the Hitmen defeat the Ice 5-1. Newcomer Zane Jones had an immediate presence in his home debut scoring two goals, while goaltender Chris Driedger had 27 saves against the Kootenay attack. Through the first two games of the year, Cody Sylvester leads the team in scoring with five points (3g, 2a).
VS. EDMONTON: Tonight is the first of six match-ups between the Hitmen and Oil Kings. Last year’s first meeting between the two teams didn’t take place until a few months into the 2011-12 campaign as Edmonton notched a 6-1 victory on Dec. 1, 2011. The Oil Kings won five of the six contests against the Hitmen last season, with Calgary’s lone win coming in a 4-3 decision on Jan. 15. The Oil Kings first trip to Calgary this year will be on Oct. 7.
Dec. 1/11 in EDM: Oil Kings 6 Hitmen 1 Mark Pysyk led the Oil Kings with three assists.
Dec. 6/11 in EDM: Oil Kings 6 Hitmen 2 Griffen Reinhart had one goal and two assists for Edmonton.
Dec. 17/11 in EDM: Oil Kings 2 Hitmen 1 Cody Corbett had two assists for the Oil Kings who outshot Calgary 33-22.
Jan. 15/12 in CAL: Hitmen 4 Oil Kings 3 Cody Sylvester had three points (1g, 2a) for Calgary.
Feb. 8/12 in CAL: Oil Kings 9 Hitmen 5 T.J. Foster and Tyler Maxwell each recorded a hat-trick for Edmonton.
Feb. 24/12 in CAL: Oil Kings 4 Hitmen 1 Michael St. Croix had two assists in the win.
INSIDE THE 2011-12 SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 157 EDM 168 Power Plays: CAL 3-27 (11.1%) EDM 7-24 (29.2%)
O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: Yesterday the Hitmen announced that overage forward Cody Sylvester will continue as captain for the 2012-13 season. Sylvester becomes just the third player in franchise history to wear the ‘C’ in back-to-back years. Brooks Macek and Spencer Humphries will also wear an ‘A’ for the second consecutive season.
CHANCE TO PLAY: Along with being named captain, Cody Sylvester introduced the Chance to Play program, which he has founded. The program’s fundraising initiative will support local minor hockey and kids who would not normally have the chance to play. At each Hitmen home game, Chance to Play t-shirts will be sold for $20 at the Booster Club table located on the Scotiabank Saddledome concourse. Net proceeds will provide the opportunity for local youth to participate in sport.
GONE CAMPING: On Thursday, 19-year-old forward Victor Rask left for Charlotte, NC, to attend training camp with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. The native of Leksand, Sweden, was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round, 42nd overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
SPECIAL TEAMS BATTLE: Last year, Calgary and Edmonton were among the top teams in the league in penalty killing. The Hitmen sat fourth in the WHL on the penalty kill at 81.0%, while the Oil Kings were second in the league at 83.7%. Early this season, Calgary has the WHL’s top man advantage, going 3-for-7 in two games. The Hitmen are also one of three teams yet to allow a goal on the penalty kill this year.
COMING TO CANADA: With the trade of Trevor Cheek earlier this week to the Vancouver Giants and Victor Rask attending training camp in the AHL, Pavlo Padakin is the lone player on Calgary’s 25-player roster who isn’t Canadian. Calgary selected the 18-year-old forward from Kiev, Ukraine, 50th overall in the 2012 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft. During last Friday’s season opener against the Red Deer Rebels, Padakin recorded his first point in a Hitmen jersey, assisting on Sylvester’s first period goal.
NHL PROSPECTS: Chris Driedger (Third Round, Ottawa 2012); Kenton Helgesen (Seventh Round, Anaheim 2012); Jaynen Rissling (Seventh Round, Washington 2012); Alex Roach (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Los Angeles 2011); Victor Rask (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Carolina 2011).
ALUMNI REPORT: This week, the University of Calgary Dinos announced Hitmen graduate Brock Nixon as team captain for the upcoming varsity season. Nixon, now in his fifth-year, has 86 points (42g, 44a) in 112 games since becoming a Dino. A native of Russell, MB, Nixon was dealt from Kamloops to Calgary during his final WHL season and was part of the club’s 2008 playoff run which reached the Eastern Conference Finals. Other former Hitmen on the Dinos roster include Tyler Fiddler, Eric Frere, Ryan Gillen and Giffen Nyren.
UPCOMING GAMES: The Hitmen return to the Scotiabank Saddledome tomorrow night as they host the Red Deer Rebels, with puck drop at 7 p.m. Calgary remains at home next weekend as they play games on Oct. 5 against the Prince Albert Raiders and Oct. 7 versus the Edmonton Oil Kings. Single game day tickets are available at all Ticketmaster locations and the Scotiabank Saddledome box office. Order online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1-855-985-5000.