GAME PREVIEW: CALGARY AT LETHBRIDGE – 03.22.23
HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (29–28–5–3), winners of three of their last four, are on the road in Lethbridge tonight to face the Hurricanes (35-24-3-3). Game time is 7:00 p.m. at ENMAX Centre. The Hitmen have been idle since Sunday’s 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. Trailing 3-1 entering the third period, Calgary stormed back to win for the sixth time this season when down going into the final frame. Sean Tschigerl (1g, 1a), Oliver Tulk (1g, 1a) and Grayden Siepmann (2a) all had multi-point games for Calgary while Brayden Peters made 27 saves, which included stopping all 10 shots third period shots, to record the win. Special teams were a major driver for the Hitmen who went 2-3 on the power play and killed both chances for Medicine Hat. The Hurricanes are coming off Saturday’s 6-1 victory in Edmonton where Tyson Zimmer and Cole Shepard both set up a pair of goals.
WHERE THEY STAND: The Hitmen are a battle for the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with Medicine Hat and Swift Current. The Hitmen at 66 points are one point up on the eighth place Tigers and two ahead of the ninth place Broncos. Medicine Hat is home to Edmonton tonight while the Broncos are off until Friday when they will host the Tigers. Lethbridge is fifth in the conference at 76 points, four points up on Regina and five back of fourth place Moose Jaw.
LETHBRIDGE: Tonight is the seventh and final regular season meeting between the two Central Division rivals. Calgary holds a 2-4 record but has outscored Lethbridge 22-20 while recording 45 more shots on goal. Matteo Danis (7g, 3a) has led the Hitmen in their head-to-head meetings with 10 points. Riley Fiddler-Schultz (3g, 5a) is next with eight followed by Maxim Muranov (2g, 5a) with seven. Cole Shepard (4g, 3a) has been the top performer for the ‘Canes with seven points. Logan Wormald (4g, 1a), Brayden Edwards (3g, 2a) and Tyson Laventure (2g, 3a) are all next with five. Calgary is 5-6-1-1 in their last 13 visits to Lethbridge including a 1-2 mark this season.
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 for Calgary.
Mar. 17/23 in LET: Hurricanes 6 Hitmen 4…The Hurricanes rallied to erase three one-goal deficits.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CGY 215 LET 170 Power Plays: CGY 2-14 (14.3%) LET 3-23 (13%)
PLAYER STREAKS: Riley Fiddler-Schultz (2g, 6a) is on a four-game point streak. Sean Tschigerl (2g, 1a) has scored in back-to-back games while Oliver Tulk (1g, 2a) is on a two-game point streak. Brayden Peters has won his last two starts in goal stopped 50 of 53 shots for a .943 save percentage.
FAST FACTS: The Hitmen are 5-2-1-0 in their last eight games and enter tonight on a two-game winning streak…Calgary has outshot their opponent in 61.5% of games this season…Riley Fiddler-Schultz has set a new career-high with a team-leading 73 points, eclipsing his previous best of 69 set last season. Fiddler-Schultz is the highest scoring Hitmen player since Mark Kastelic (47g, 30a) and James Malm (34g, 43a) tied for the team scoring lead in 2018-19 with 77 points each.
WHL TOP-10: Riley Fiddler-Schultz leads the WHL in faceoff wins with 839, four ahead of Ty Thorpe of Vancouver and 17 more than Jett Jones of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. His 258 shots are tied for 10th best in the league…Carter Yakemchuk is tied for fourth in goals by a defenceman with 17 while his 14 power play tallies lead all blueliners.
PLAYOFF PUSH: Counting today, the Hitmen have three games remaining in the regular season with one at home and two on the road. Their opponent breakdown is as follows; LET, (EDM 2X’s).
MAYFAIR DIAGNOSTICS INJURY REPORT: Billal Noori (upper body, season ending), Jacob Wright (lower body, day-to-day).
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Hitmen have killed their last six shorthanded situations and once again own the WHL’s best penalty kill at 83.6%. On the flip side, the power play has scored in back-to-back games and is 17th at 19.4%.
REGULAR SEASON CAREER MILESTONE WATCH: Brayden Peters has an outside shot of setting a new franchise record for most saves by a goalie. Peters has 3,699, trailing only Chris Driedger who finished with 3,773…Grayden Siepmann and Tyson Galloway both hit the 50 assist mark last weekend. Galloway did it Saturday in Medicine Hat while Siepmann passed it Sunday against the Tigers…Ethan Buenaventura is 44 minutes away from 3,000.
INKED: On Monday the Hitmen signed listed prospect Alesksey Chichkin to a Western Hockey League Scholarship and Development agreement. The 17-year-old defenceman was added to the club’s protected player list in January and currently plays in the BCHL with Merritt where he has seven points (1g, 6a) in 34 games this season. Chichkin, a 6’5”, 215-pound defenceman, was a teammate of Hitmen forward Carson Wetsch in the 2021-22 season with the U18 Prep Burnaby Winter Club.
UPCOMING GAMES: The Hitmen will close their 68-game regular season schedule this weekend with a pair of games against the Oil Kings. On Saturday, Mar 25 they make a stop in Edmonton at Rogers Place for a 2:00 p.m. start. Calgary will then play their finale at home on Sunday, Mar. 26 in a 1:00 p.m. puck drop on Fan Appreciation Day at Scotiabank Saddledome. The day will include the team player awards in a special pre-game presentation.