HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (24-9-1-3) visit the Kootenay Ice (11-24-1-0) today for a New Year’s Eve contest at Western Financial Place. After falling 2-1 to the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday, Dec. 28 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Hitmen rebounded with a 4-1 road win over the ‘Canes the following evening. Zane Jones (1g, 1a), Jaynen Rissling (1g, 1a) and Brooks Macek (2a) each recorded two points in Saturday night’s win, while Brady Brassart and Greg Chase both scored for Calgary. At 52 points, the Hitmen sit third in the Eastern Conference standings, one point behind the conference-leading Oil Kings.
VS. KOOTENAY: Tonight is the fifth of eight meetings between the Hitmen and Ice, with Calgary leading the season series 3-1-0-0. Brooks Macek tops the Hitmen with two goals and five assists against Kootenay, while Greg Chase (4g, 1a) and Brady Brassart (5a) each have five points in the series. Ice forwards Brock Montgomery (4g) and Sam Reinhart (4a) lead the team in scoring against the Hitmen with four points each in the series. Over the last five seasons, Calgary is 17-18-1-0 against Kootenay, including a 6-10-1-0 road record.
Sept. 22/12 at CAL: Hitmen 5 Ice 1 … Zane Jones scored twice for Calgary, while Darian Henry, Cody Sylvester and Brooks Macek all had a goal and an assist in the win.
Nov. 12/12 at CAL: Ice 4 Hitmen 0 … B. Montgomery recorded a hat trick for the Ice, while M. Skapski made 17 saves in the win.
Dec. 2/12 at CAL: Hitmen 4 Ice 1 … Greg Chase (2g), Alex Roach (1g, 1a), Brooks Macek (2a) and Brady Brassart (2a) each posted two-point performances for Calgary.
Dec. 4/12 at KTN: Hitmen 6 Ice 1 … Greg Chase scored a pair of goals for the second straight game, while Brooks Macek (1g, 2a) and Victor Rask (1g, 2a) both recorded three points each in the win.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 118 KTN 109
Power Plays: CAL 3-15 (20.0%) KTN 3-26 (11.5%)
Next Meeting: Sat., Feb. 23 at KTN, 7PM
HITMEN TEAM LEADERS:
Goals (20) Cody Sylvester
Assists (27) Brooks Macek
Points (43) Brooks Macek
Power Play Goals (9) Cody Sylvester
PIM (82) Kenton Helgesen
Plus-Minus (+21) B. Brassart, B. Macek
Wins (19) Chris Driedger
ROAD WARRIORS: The Hitmen are 13-1-0-1 when playing on the road and have won their last eight matches in opposition barns, outscoring their opponents by a combined 30-11 over those contests.
DECEMBER DIGITS: The top point producer this month is overage forward Brooks Macek with five goals and 10 assists for 15 points over 11 contests. Following him is Brady Brassart (3g, 9a) with 12 points in 11 games and Cody Sylvester (4g, 7a) with 11 points over the same span.
ROSTER ADDITION: Defenceman Ben Thomas, selected by the Hitmen in the third round, 45th overall, in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, has been added to the roster. The 16-year-old Calgary product has recorded three points (2g, 1a) over 22 games with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs and Calgary Canucks this season.
GOING INTERNATIONAL: Calgary is without the services of Victor Rask who is with Team Sweden at the World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. The Carolina Hurricanes prospect has recorded two goals, including one game-winning marker, and one assist along with 14 shots on goal over four games played at the tournament. The Hitmen will also be without rookies Jake Virtanen and Josh Thrower, playing for Team Pacific at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Victoriaville/Drummondville, Quebec. On Dec. 29, Virtanen tallied one goal in Team Pacific’s 8-7 overtime victory against Team Russia. Team Pacific next sees action today when they face-off against Team Sweden at the Centre Marcel Dionne in Drummondville (1:30 p.m. ET).
MAC’S TOURNAMENT: There are six Hitmen prospects playing in the 35th annual Mac’s AAA Midget Hockey Tournament in Calgary. The list includes four Hitmen picks from the 2011 and 2012 WHL Bantam Drafts, including the club’s top two selections in 2012: Prince Albert Mintos (2) Lochlan Morrison (1997 Defenceman), Ryan Duret (1996 Forward); Saskatoon Contacts (1) Terrell Draude (1997 Forward); Tisdale Trojans (2) Brennan Riddle (1997 Defenceman), Matt Foster (1995 Defenceman); and Winnipeg Wild (1) Evan Johnson (1996 Goalie).
MILESTONE WATCH: Kenton Helgesen is seven games shy of his 100th career WHL contest, while Chris Driedger is five games away from hitting 100 games played. Jaynen Rissling is eight games away from his 200th career game, while Brendan Hurley is seven contests shy of his 200th. Cody Sylvester needs two more helpers to reach 100 career assists.
NHL PROSPECTS: Chris Driedger (Ottawa 2012); Kenton Helgesen (Anaheim 2012); Jaynen Rissling (Washington 2012); Alex Roach (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Los Angeles 2011); Victor Rask (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Carolina 2011).
UPCOMING GAMES: The Hitmen will now return to the Scotiabank Saddledome for a three-game homestand starting Wed., Jan. 2 when they host Brandon. Game time is 7 p.m. Radio broadcast begins at 6 p.m. on Sportsnet 960 The FAN with a one hour pre-game show. Calgary will also face the Moose Jaw and Vancouver, before heading east on a four-game road swing.
Wed., Jan. 2 vs. Brandon Wheat Kings, 7 p.m., SN 960 The FAN
Fri., Jan. 4 vs. Moose Jaw Warriors, 7 p.m., SN 960 The FAN