The Calgary Hitmen (6-0-1-1) continue to find success, remaining undefeated in regulation play following a 4-2 victory over the Red Deer Rebels on Saturday night.
“Guys are sticking together, we’re working as a team and everyone is on board right now. We just have to keep going,” said Hitmen captain, Cody Sylvester, applauding the effort of his teammates.
Registering at least one point in every game this season, Calgary now sits atop the Central Division with 14 points, two points ahead of the defending WHL Champion Edmonton Oil Kings.
The last time the Hitmen began a season registering at least one point in every contest over an eight-game span was during the 1999-00 campaign when Calgary posted seven wins and one tie.
Brooks Macek also extended his point streak to eight straight (6g, 8a), picking up a goal and assist in the win.
“I’m not too worried about getting a point in every single game, just as long as the team is getting points in every single game,” said Macek. “I’ve never really come out of the gates like this so it feels good and even better that the team is undefeated in regulation so far.”
With a pair of goals on the night, Sylvester continues to be a top producer for Calgary this year and in the Rebels’ season series. Sylvester has tallied six points (5g, 1a) over a 2-0-1-0 record posted against Red Deer.
The opening tally came over halfway into the first frame as Ukrainian import selection, Pavlo Padakin charged hard to the net and bounced the puck off the body of Bolton Pouliot. Jake Virtanen pounced on the rebound as he gave it a couple pokes before flipping it over the Rebels netminder.
Calgary surrendered their first shorthanded goal of the season in the middle frame as a clearing attempt found the stick of Rebels’ Tyson Ness who found himself alone on the breakaway. He would not waste the opportunity as he sent the puck up and over the glove of Hitmen goaltender, Mack Shields.
Less than three minutes later, Red Deer took a 2-1 lead as a shot by Christian Stockl pinged off the post, onto the waiting stick of Cory Millette who sent the puck into the gaping cage.
Just over 60 seconds elapsed before Greg Chase set up the equalizer on a Calgary powerplay. The 2013 draft eligible forward scouted out the positioning of Sylvester, sending a precision pass his way. Sylvester was locked and loaded as he ripped a one-timer over the trapper of Pouliot.
The captain would strike again in the third stanza as a wide shot by Alex Roach bounded off the backboards to Sylvester who cashed in on the short side.
““To be honest, I thought I shot it over the net. I guess I tucked it right under and that’s a big goal,” described Sylvester of the game winner.
With 21 seconds remaining, Brooks Macek scored an empty netter to seal the 4-2 victory.
Five different Hitmen chipped in a helper in the victory including netminder, Mack Shields who registered 17 saves to record his first career WHL win.
“I still have the taste of that loss in my mouth from last weekend so all week during practice I was thinking about that and this weekend I knew I really wanted to get my first win,” commented Shields on the personal milestone.
Calgary outshot Red Deer 37-19. The Hitmen next see action tomorrow afternoon when they host the Kamloops Blazers, with a 4 p.m. puck drop.
“Tomorrow is going to be a huge test, not only physically, but getting ourselves mentally ready. Kamloops is a top, top team,” said bench boss, Mike Williamson. “They skate well, they have a ton of speed and they’re going to be ready for us. So for us, it’s making sure we don’t have anyone that’s not ready to play and we want to be able to play a long bench. It’s got to be a group effort tomorrow.”
Tickets for upcoming Hitmen games are available at all Ticketmaster locations as well as the Scotiabank Saddledome box office. Order online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1-855-985-5000. For more information on tickets, including the Sunday Ticket Pack and Name Your Game Flex Package, contact customer service at 403-777-4646.