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Game Preview: Hitmen vs. Wheat Kings

HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (14-12-3-2), riding a two-game winning streak, play their second game in as many days this afternoon as they host the Brandon Wheat Kings (17-14-2-2).  Game time is 4:00 p.m. at Scotiabank Saddledome.  Dutton’s Lounge is open for pre-game food and beverage service beginning at 3:00 p.m. until the opening face-off while under Government of Alberta COVID-19 restrictions all concessions will be closed during the game.  Fans must also wear a mask at all times.  Calgary is coming off yesterday’s 4-1 home ice win over Prince Albert.  Riley Fiddler-Schultz led the way with a goal and two assists while Sean Tschigerl scored twice.  Brandon also played Saturday afternoon, falling 5-3 in Edmonton.  The Hitmen enter the day seventh in the Eastern Conference with 33 points while the Wheat Kings are in a two-way tie for fifth with Moose Jaw at 38 points.  Under the WHL playoff format, the top eight teams in each conference qualify for the post season.

VS. BRANDON: Today is the second of four regular season meetings with the Wheat Kings. Calgary leads the season series 1-0 thanks to a 3-2 home ice victory in October. David Adaszynski, Riley Fiddler-Schultz and Anton Yatsyshin all scored for the Hitmen who, after surrendering the opening goal, replied with three unanswered tallies.  Ridly Greig and Zakhar Polshakov both scored for the Wheat Kings.  The two clubs won’t meet again until Wednesday, March 9, this time in Manitoba.

2021-22 SERIES RECAP

Oct. 24, 2021 in CGY: Hitmen 3 Wheat Kings 2…Adam Kydd led the Hitmen with two assists.

INSIDE THE SERIES

Shots on Goal: CGY 29   BDN 18      Power Plays: CGY 1-7 (14.3%)   BDN 0-4 (0%)

 

STREAKS: Blake Stevenson (4g) has scored in three straight games and is on a four-game (4g, 5a) point streak.  Riley Fiddler-Schultz (3g, 2a) has goals in back-to-back games while Carter Yakemchuk (2a) is on a two-game point streak.  Brayden Peters has won his last two starts posting a goals against average of 1.50 and a .940 save percentage.  Maxim Muranov (3a) saw his two-game point streak end yesterday against Prince Albert.

LEADERSHIP GROUP: The Hitmen have named 20-year-old forward Cael Zimmerman their new captain.  He replaces Jackson van de Leest who was traded to Red Deer on Tuesday.  Zimmerman had served as an alternate this season and has played his entire five-year WHL career in Calgary.  Fellow overage forward Blake Allan also joins the leadership group to wear an ‘A’ alongside Riley Fiddler-Schultz, Tyson Galloway and Sean Tschigerl.

LET’S GO: Today is the second game in a stretch of four games in five days and a run of six games in nine days for the Hitmen.

HOME AND AWAY COMPARISON: The Hitmen are 10-5-2-0 at home this season including an 8-1-2-0 mark in their last 11 games at the ‘Dome.  Brandon is 7-8-1-1 on the road.

TRADE WINDS: On Tuesday, the Hitmen completed a multi-player swap with Red Deer acquiring 20-year-old forward Blake Stevenson, 18-year-old defenceman Trey Patterson and a second-round pick in the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft in exchange for 20-year-old defenceman and team captain Jackson van de Leest.  On Jan. 5, the Hitmen added 18-year-old forward Steel Quiring from Kelowna in return for 19-year-old forward Adam Kydd and a fifth-round pick in the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft.

DRAFT WATCH: NHL Central Scouting has named two Hitmen players to its midterm rankings ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft.  Defenceman Grayden Siepmann checks in at 139 among North American skaters while forward Maxim Muranov is 141.

FAST FACTS: Calgary has fired 33 or more shots on goal in five consecutive games…The Hitmen are 7-3-3-2 in their last 15 games…Riley Fiddler-Schultz is tied for 10th in WHL scoring with 41 points.  He leads the league in shots on goal with 146 and is tied for third in game winning goals with five…Sean Tschigerl tops the league in shorthanded markers with five…Blake Stevenson is tied for seventh in the WHL in power play assists with 14…Brayden Peters is fourth in the WHL in minutes played at 1,553 and fifth in saves with 721.  His 13 wins are tied for seventh…Calgary is 6-1-0-1 against the East Division…Zac Funk has at least one shot on goal in all 30 of his games this season…The Hitmen power play has scored in four of their last five games.

MAYFAIR DIAGNOSTICS INJURY REPORT: Billal Noori (indefinitely, upper body), Mason Finley (day-to-day, COVID-19 Protocol), Steel Quiring (day-to-day, COVID-19 Protocol), Brandon Whynott (week-to-week, upper body).

HITMEN VS: (BDN 1-0), (EDM 1-3), (LET 0-2-1-1), (MH 4-1), (MJ 1-0), (PA 1-0-0-1), (RD 1-4-2-0), (REG 1-0), (SAS 2-0), (SC 2-1), WPG (0-1).

THE ROSTER: Calgary is carrying 25 players; 16 forwards, seven defencemen and two goalies.

Breakdown: Three (20-year-olds), Two (19-year-olds), Seven (18-year-olds), Nine (17-year-olds), Four (16-year-olds).

REGULAR SEASON CAREER MILESTONE WATCH: Cael Zimmerman is three assists shy of 50.  Riley Fiddler-Schultz reached 50 assists yesterday against Prince Albert while Brayden Peters eclipsed 2,000 saves on Jan. 2 against Medicine Hat.

UPCOMING GAMES: Calgary hits the road for three straight this week with stops in Regina (Jan. 18), Moose Jaw (Jan. 19) and Swift Current (Jan. 21).  The Hitmen will then host Moose Jaw on Sunday, Jan. 23 in a 4:00 p.m. start at Scotiabank Saddledome.

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