The Calgary Hitmen (35-22-2-1) open a five game home stand tonight against the Medicine Hat Tigers (36-20-2-3). Game time is 7:00 p.m. at Scotiabank Saddledome. The Hitmen have won three in a row and are coming off Saturday’s 5-4 win in Kamloops. The Tigers meanwhile dropped a 5-4 shootout decision on Monday in Edmonton but are 6-2-0-1 in their last nine.
Calgary is 5th in the WHL’s Eastern Conference with 73 points, trailing Kootenay by a single point for fourth while leading sixth place Saskatoon by two. Medicine Hat sits third in the conference with 77 points, four points back of Moose Jaw for second and three points ahead of Kootenay.
Tonight is the sixth and final regular season between the two clubs. Medicine Hat has won four of the previous five outscoring the Hitmen by a combined 19-10. Alex Gogolev (2g 1a), Jimmy Bubnick (1g 2a), Spencer Humphries (3a) and Collin Bowman lead the Hitmen with three points each against Medicine Hat while Anaheim Ducks first round pick Emerson Etem tops the Tigers with 11 points (3g 9a).
-Oct. 15 in MH: Tigers 5 Hitmen 0. Tyler Bunz 36 save shutout. Emerson Etem four assists.
-Dec. 4 in CAL: Tigers 2 Hitmen 1. Tyler Bunz 37 saves. Curtis Valk two goals, Emerson Etem two assists.
-Jan. 18 in CAL: Tigers 5 Hitmen 1. Emerson Etem led the Tigers with a pair of goals.
-Jan. 28 in MH: Hitmen 5 Tigers 2. Calgary scored three unanswered third period goals to break a 2-2 tie.
-Feb. 7 in MH: Tigers 5 Hitmen 3. Tyler Bunz made 40 saves while Cole Grbavac snapped a 3-3 third period tie with just under 12 minutes remaining.
HOME SWEET ‘DOME: Calgary will play eight of their final 12 regular season games at Scotiabank Saddledome where they are 16-11-0-1 this season.
ROAD WARRIORS: Calgary and Kamloops are tied for the WHL lead in road wins with 19. Medicine Hat has 18.
STREAKIN’: Six Hitmen put point scoring streaks on the line tonight. Victor Rask (3g 2a), Brady Brassart (2g 2a) and Joey Kornelsen (1g 3a) all have points in three straight. Greg Chase (1g 2a), Kenton Helgesen (1g 2a) and Collin Bowman (3a) all have points in back-to-back games. Meanwhile eight Tigers are riding point scoring streaks. Hunter Shinkaruk (8g 9a) has points in nine straight for Medicine Hat, but has missed the last five games with an upper body injury. Curtis Valk (3g 5a) has points in four straight. James Bettauer (1g 3a) Matthew Konan (3a), Emerson Etem (1g 1a), Rhyse Dieno (2a), Patrik Parkkonen (2g) and Jayden Hart (1g 1a) have points in back-to-back games. Tyler Bunz has won his last five starts in goal, but has missed the last three games with an upper body injury.
PROTECTING THE LEAD: Both teams are nearly unbeatable when leading after two periods this season. Calgary is 27-0-0-1 while Medicine Hat is 26-2-0-1.
Jimmy Bubnick 27g 34a 61pts
Cody Sylvester 20g 40a 60pts
Brady Brassart 20g 28a 48pts
Emerson Etem 52g 40a 92pts
Hunter Shinkaruk 40g 33a 73pts
James Bettauer 19g 30a 49pts