The Calgary Hitmen will seek a home-and-home series sweep of the Kootenay ICE when they welcome their Central Division rival to the Scotiabank Saddledome tonight for the Adrenalin Source For Sports Home Opener.
Game time is 7 p.m.
The Hitmen scored three power play goals enroute to a 4-2 season-opening road win at Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place on Friday night.
Carsen Twarynski, Travis Sanheim, Taylor Sanheim and Radel Fazleev provided the goals for the Hitmen, while goaltender Brendan Burke made 22 saves.
Jordy Stallard contributed a pair of assists and Chase Lang, Beck Malenstyn, Layne Bensmiller, Jake Bean, Ben Thomas and goaltender Burke chipped in with the other helpers.
The Hitmen went 3 for 7 on the power play, while Kootenay was held scoreless on six opportunities.
“I thought it was a solid effort overall, but we need to play with more discipline,” said Hitmen head coach Mark French. “We realize the boys are going to be jacked up and ready to go, but I would like to see more composure than we had (last night). I thought some of the guys played up to the hype surrounding the rivalry and we kind of got away from our game at times.”
As dominant as Calgary’s special teams were in game one, French appeared to be more pleased by the play of a pair of 16-year-old forwards – Mark Kastelic (’99) and Andrew Fyten (’98) – who were making their Western Hockey League debuts.
“You wouldn’t know it was their first WHL game by the way they played,” French said. “Mark used his size very well throughout the game and Andrew played with an edge, which is exactly what we want to see from those two.”
If there is one area the Hitmen can improve on for tonight’s contest it would be turnovers, according to second-year centre Stallard.
“I thought we gave up the puck too many times in the neutral zone,” he said. “If we can clean that up, and stay out of the box, we should be in good shape for the home opener.
“I know everyone is going to be excited, especially the young guys who have never experienced a home opener at the ‘Dome, but we need to make sure we keep our emotions in check and be prepared to play.”
The Hitmen have opted to carry a 28-man roster (16 forwards, nine defencemen and three goaltenders) to start the regular season, which includes forward Jake Virtanen (Vancouver Canucks) and defenceman Keegan Kanzig (Calgary Flames) who are both still with their respective NHL clubs.
Players not dressing last night in Cranbrook included Lasse Petersen (goaltender), Lucas Cullen (right wing), Dawson Martin (right wing), Aaron Hyman (defence), Jakob LaPointe (defence) and the injured Matt Dorsey (right wing).
Fans attending Saturday night’s home opener are encouraged to be in their seats early for a special pre-game ceremony that will include the introduction of the 2015-16 Hitmen team.
Other highlights to look forward to include the RE/MAX 50-50 jackpot, which will begin at a whopping $14,825 due to an unclaimed prize from last season, a 2014-15 Hitmen game-issued jersey silent auction, and Hitmen forward and Calgary Flames prospect Pavel Karnaukhov signing post-game autographs at the Booster Club table located on the concourse by section 212.
To purchase tickets to the Adrenalin Source For Sports Home Opener, visit Ticketmaster.ca