HITMEN HEADLINES: After falling for the first time this season in their last outing, the Calgary Hitmen (3-0-1-0) will look to bounce back as they take on the Prince Albert Raiders (4-0-0-1). The year began with three straight wins before the Red Deer Rebels ended Calgary’s perfect start with an overtime victory last Saturday at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Despite the loss, the season’s second home game saw a number of positives continue. Cody Sylvester, Brooks Macek and Brady Brassart have led the way offensively, while Chris Driedger has been stellar between the pipes for the Hitmen who have allowed the fewest number of goals of any WHL club at seven.
VS. PRINCE ALBERT: Tonight is the first of four meetings between the Hitmen and Raiders. Calgary was able to grab all eight possible points from last year’s season series, while Prince Albert was only able to collect a single point in the final contest between the two teams. In 2011-12, the Hitmen outscored the Raiders by a combined 25-9 over the four-game series. After tonight’s game, Prince Albert won’t return to the Scotiabank Saddledome until the end of February.
Nov. 1/11 in P.A. Hitmen 5 Raiders 2 Jimmy Bubnick scored a hat trick as Calgary overcame a 2-1 third period deficit.
Nov. 19/11 in CAL Hitmen 7 Raiders 1 Calgary killed four straight Raider power plays then got a hat trick from C. Bowman.
Nov. 26/11 in P.A. Hitmen 8 Raiders 2 Calgary scored three second period goals in the span of 3:01 to post a 4-1 lead through forty.
Dec. 9/11 in CAL Hitmen 5 Raiders 4 SO Cody Sylvester notched three assists along with scoring the lone goal of the shootout.
INSIDE THE 2011-12 SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 134 PA 110 Power Plays: CAL 6-20 (30.0%) RD 3-17 (17.6%)
CHANCE TO PLAY: Along with being named captain, Cody Sylvester founded the Chance to Play program, a fundraising initiative that supports local minor hockey and kids who would not normally have the chance to play. At each Hitmen home game this season, Chance to Play t-shirts will be sold for $20 at the Booster Club table located by section 212. Net proceeds will provide the opportunity for local youth to participate in sport.
FOURTH PERIOD: Last Saturday, the Hitmen suffered their first setback of the 2012-13 season in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Red Deer Rebels. Last season, Calgary held a 5-3 record in games that went past regulation with Spencer Humphries, Victor Rask and Cody Sylvester scoring the three Hitmen overtime winners.
STREAKIN’: Several Hitmen take point streaks into tonight’s game. Brooks Macek (1g, 5a) has six points in four straight contests, including at least one assist in each game this season. Brady Brassart (3g, 2a) has five points over the same span. Zane Jones (2g, 1a) has points in back-to-back games, while Jaynen Rissling (3a) has assists in three straight contests. Chris Driedger has yet to lose in regulation this year.
SPECIAL TEAMS SUCCESS: Through the early stages of the 2012-13 season, Calgary has some of the best special teams numbers in the WHL. The power play is connecting at 37.5% with six goals and ranks first, while the penalty kill is ranked second. The Hitmen have killed off 94.1% of their penalties, while allowing only one shorthanded goal so far this season.
LEADERSHIP POWER: Calgary and Prince Albert, two of the hottest teams to start the 2012-13 campaign, have each been able to rely on the scoring touch of their captains. Cody Sylvester is on a goal-per-game pace with four goals and two assists in the Hitmens’ last four contests. For the Raiders, Mark McNeill has seven points (3g, 4a) over five games after recording 30-goal seasons in the past two years.
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).
FRIENDS TURNED FOES: After lacing up for the Victoria Royals at the end of last year and in the 2012 pre-season, Zane Jones and Dakota Conroy, who were also linemates, will now face each other tonight. Jones was acquired by Calgary on Sept. 15 and has fit in seamlessly with four points (2g, 2a) in four games. Originally a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings, Conroy had 10 points in his 31-game season with the Royals last year. Since being picked up by the Raiders on Sept. 26, the Edmonton native has four points (2g, 2a) through four games.
POST-GAME AUTOGRAPHS: Meet forward Zane Jones at the Booster Club table located by section 212 after the game.
UPCOMING GAMES: Calgary takes to home ice again on Sunday, Oct. 7 versus the Edmonton Oil Kings, with puck drop at 2 p.m. Join us for brunch before the game in the Avison Young Club Dining Room starting at noon. Next week the Hitmen will play three-straight games from Oct. 12-14, starting in Edmonton on Friday, before returning to the Scotiabank Saddledome for matches against Red Deer and Kamloops.
Sun., Oct. 7 vs. Edmonton, 2 p.m., SN 960 The FAN Sat., Oct. 13 vs. Red Deer, 7 p.m., SN 960 The FAN
Fri., Oct. 12 at Edmonton, 7:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE, SN 960 The FAN Sun., Oct. 14 vs. Kamloops, 4 p.m., SN 960 The FAN