GAME PREVIEW: CALGARY AT LETHBRIDGE – 03.17.23
HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (27-27-5-3) open a three-game weekend by closing a home-and-home set with the Hurricanes (33-24-3-3) tonight in Lethbridge. Game time is 7:00 p.m. at ENMAX Centre. The Hitmen took the opener be beating the ‘Canes 7-1 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday night. Rookie forward Matteo Danis scored a career-high four goals while Brayden Peters was brilliant between the pipes making 37 saves. Ethan Moore, Oliver Tulk and Riley Fiddler-Schultz completed the Calgary scoring with Maxim Muranov recording four assists and Dax Williams two helpers. Brayden Edwards tallied the lone marker for Lethbridge as Calgary outshot the visitors 42-38. The Hitmen now have picked up seven of a possible 10 points in their last five games posting a record of 3-1-1-0.
WHERE THEY STAND: The Hitmen hold the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 62 points sitting two points ahead of both Swift Current and Brandon. Calgary is also only a single point behind seventh place Medicine Hat. The Tigers are on the road in Edmonton tonight while Brandon hosts Prince Albert and Swift Current is in Red Deer. Lethbridge at 72 points is fifth, seven points behind Moose Jaw and four points ahead of Regina.
LETHBRIDGE: Tonight is the sixth of seven regular season meetings between the two Central Division rivals. Calgary holds a 2-3 record but has outscored Lethbridge 18-14 while recording 47 more shots on goal. Matteo Danis (6g, 1a) has the Hitmen in their head-to-head meetings with seven points. Riley Fiddler-Schultz (2g, 2a) and Maxim Muranov (1g, 3a) are next with four points each. Cole Shepard (3g, 3a) has been the top performer for the ‘Canes with six points. Logan Wormald (4g) and Brayden Edwards (2g, 2a) are next with four. Calgary is 5-5-1-1 in their last 12 visits to Lethbridge.
2022-23 SERIES RECAP
Dec. 17/22 in LET: Hitmen 7 Hurricanes 2…Calgary jumped out to a 5-0 second period lead.
Jan. 15/23 in CGY: Hurricanes 4 Hitmen 1…Cole Shepard scored twice for the ‘Canes.
Feb. 15/23 in LET: Hurricanes 3 Hitmen 0…Bryan Thomson made 36 saves for the shutout.
Feb. 25/23 in CGY: Hurricanes 4 Hitmen 3…Logan Wormald scored the game winner with 2:12 remaining.
Mar. 15/23 in CGY: Hitmen 7 Hurricanes 1…Matteo Danis notched four goals.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CGY 185 LET 138 Power Plays: CGY 2-14 (14.3%) LET 3-23 (13%)
PLAYER STREAKS: Brayden Peters has won his last three starts, stopping 106 of 110 shots for a .964 save percentage. Riley Fiddler-Schultz (4g, 7a) has points in five of his last six games while Carter Yakemchuk (2g, 3a) has points in three of his last four outings. Maxim Muranov has nine points (1g, 8a) in his last seven games.
3-IN-3: This weekend’s trio of games is the fifth and final time this season the Hitmen face this scenario. So far Calgary has a combined record of 3-6-3-0 through the first 12 games of compressed play.
FAST FACTS: The four-goal game by Matteo Danis on Wednesday was the first hat-trick by a Hitmen rookie since Pavel Karnaukhov tallied four points (3g, 1a) on Dec. 30, 2014, also against Lethbridge…Ethan Moore eclipsed 100 face-off wins Wednesday…Riley Fiddler-Schultz has set a new career-high with 29 goals, passing the 28 he counted last season. He is also trying to reach the 30-goal mark. The last Hitmen player to score 30 in a season happened during the 2019-20 season when both Mark Kastelic (38) and Carson Focht (32) hit that plateau.
WHL TOP-10: Riley Fiddler-Schultz is second in the WHL in faceoff wins with 796, one back of Jett Jones of the Lethbridge Hurricanes …Carter Yakemchuk is tied for sixth in goals by a defenceman with 16 while his 13 power play tallies lead all blueliners…Sean Tschigerl is tied for 10th in the WHL with three shorthanded goals.
PLAYOFF PUSH: Counting today, the Hitmen have six games remaining in the regular season with three at home and four on the road. Their opponent breakdown is as follows; (LET 2X’s), (MH 2X’s), (EDM 2X’s).
MAYFAIR DIAGNOSTICS INJURY REPORT: Billal Noori (upper body, week-to-week), Jacob Wright (lower body, day-to-day).
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Hitmen penalty kill is second in the WHL at 83.3%. On the flip side the power play is tied for 17th at 19.1%.
HOME AND AWAY COMPARISON: Calgary is 15-13-2-0 on the road. Lethbridge is 19-9-1-2 at home.
REGULAR SEASON CAREER MILESTONE WATCH: Grayden Siepmann and Tyson Galloway are both two assists shy of 50. Ethan Buenaventura is 44 minutes away from 3,000. Wednesday against Lethbridge Blake Heward hit the century mark in games played while Riley Fiddler-Schultz moved past Michael Stone and into 15th spot on the club’s all-time points list with 182. Kenton Smith is 14th with 193.
UP FOR BID: The game worn and game issued jerseys from last Saturday’s ‘Bret ‘The Hitmen’ Hart game presented by Vallen are live at elevateauctions.com/BretHart. Bidding closes for all 25 jerseys on Monday, Mar. 20 at 8:00 p.m. This year’s sweater is the third instalment in the series of jerseys inspired by Bret Hart. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Calgary Prostate Cancer Centre.
UPCOMING GAMES: The Hitmen weekend resumes in Medicine Hat tomorrow, Saturday, Mar. 18 at 7:00 p.m. before the Tigers make the return trip to Scotiabank Saddledome Sunday, Mar. 19 at 4:00 p.m. It will be another Sunday Funday, presented by Brookfield Residential. In addition to $2 sips and snacks specials all game long, look for concourse activities from TELUS Spark and a cast of characters outfitted by the Costume Shoppe. There are also $6 Hitmen Happy Hour food and drink deals throughout the day and a post-game family skate.