GAME PREVIEW: CALGARY VS SASKATOON
HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (18-21-5-2) are back on home ice this afternoon to host the Saskatoon Blades (26-18-1-1). Game time is 4:00 p.m. at Scotiabank Saddledome. It’s another Sunday Funday featuring “Farley’s Family Feast” with special $2 prices for cotton candy, water, pop, hot dogs and popcorn. There are select $5 menu items all game long including pizza and hamburgers. The Hitmen have dropped six in a row and are coming off Friday’s 3-1 home ice loss to Winnipeg at Seven Chiefs Sportsplex. Riley Fiddler-Schultz notched his team leading 23rd goal of the season to open the scoring while goaltender Ethan Buenaventura made 52 saves in a first-star performance. Saskatoon meanwhile is winding down a three-game weekend. On Friday the Blades lost 5-3 in Winnipeg and were beaten 9-1 in Edmonton last night. The Hitmen are tied with Lethbridge for seventh in the Eastern Conference at 43 points, just one point up on Swift Current for the eighth and final playoff spot. Saskatoon is sixth with 54 points, one point back of Brandon.
RECORD PERFORMANCE: The 52 saves by Ethan Buenaventura on Friday night against Winnipeg set a new franchise record for saves in a home game. The overall club record is held by Joe Stephenson who turned aside 54 shots on Feb. 21, 1997 in an 11-4 loss in Brandon.
VS. SASKATOON: Today is the fourth and final regular season meeting between the two clubs. Calgary is 2-1 against the Blades, outscoring Saskatoon by a combined 13-6. Sean Tschigerl (3g, 3a) leads the Hitmen with six points while Zac Funk (3g, 2a) and Riley Fiddler-Schultz (1g, 4a) are next with four. Kyle Crnkovic (4g, 1a) is the top performing Blade with five points. Saskatoon has won four of their last five meetings in Calgary.
2021-22 SERIES RECAP
Nov. 27/21 in CGY: CGY 7 SAS 0…Brayden Peters made 23 saves for the shutout. Sean Tschigerl (3g, 1a) tallied four points.
Dec. 10/21 in SAS: CGY 4 SAS 2…Zac Funk snapped a 2-2 third period tie with 4:22 remaining.
Feb. 9/21 in SAS: SAS 4 CGY 2…Kyle Crnkovic snapped a 2-2 tie with 2:39 remaining.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CGY 105 SAS 81 Power Plays: CGY 0-7 (0%) SAS 2-11 (18.2%)
STREAKS: Anaheim Ducks prospect Sean Tschigerl (1g, 2a) is riding a three-game point streak.
FAST FACTS: Ethan Buenaventura has made five straight starts in goal for Calgary…The Hitmen have scored first in six of their last eight games….Calgary is 8-9-1-1 against the East Division.
HOME AND AWAY COMPARISON: The Hitmen are 11-9-4-0 on home ice this season. Today marks their first game at Scotiabank Saddledome in 14 days since Sean Tschigerl scored in overtime to power Calgary to a 5-4 win over the Regina Pats on Sunday Feb. 6. Saskatoon is 12-11 on the road.
WHL TOP-10: Riley Fiddler-Schultz is sixth in the league in shots on goal with 199. His five game winning goals are tied for 10th…Sean Tschigerl tops the WHL in shorthanded markers with five…Brayden Peters is fifth in minutes played at 1,976 and sixth in saves with 935. His 16 wins are tied for 10th.
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.
WELCOME BACK: Hitmen forward Zac Funk is eligible to return to the line-up today after serving a one game WHL imposed suspension for a checking from behind major and game misconduct assessed on Wednesday night against Moose Jaw.
ROSTER MOVES: On Thursday, the Hitmen reassigned 16-year-old goaltending prospect Alex Garrett to the U18 Saskatoon Blazers in the SMAAAHL and added fellow prospect Christian Francis to the roster. Francis, Calgary’s sixth round pick, 123rd overall, in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft, is a 15-year-old goalie from Spruce Grove, AB. This season he is a member of the St. Albert Netkar Raiders in the U18 AAA Alberta Elite Hockey League where he is 11-5-1 with a 3.03 goals against average and .905 save percentage.
MAYFAIR DIAGNOSTICS INJURY REPORT: Billal Noori (indefinitely, upper body), Keagan Slaney (five weeks, upper body), Blake Heward (TBD, upper body), Brayden Peters (day-to-day, lower body).
HITMEN VS: (BDN 1-0-1-0), (EDM 1-3), (LET 0-2-2-1), (MH 5-1), (MJ 1-4), (PA 1-1-0-1), (RD 1-4-2-0), (REG 3-1), (SAS 2-1), (SC 3-2), WPG (0-2).
HITMEN MONTH-BY-MONTH: October (4-5), November (5-4), December (3-3-3-2), January (5-3-2-0), February (1-6).
REGULAR SEASON CAREER MILESTONE WATCH: Blake Stevenson needs two assists for 50 while Riley Fiddler-Schultz is three points away from 100. Tyson Galloway is three games shy of 100.
ALUMNI WATCH: Kyle Olson, who notched 18 points (8g, 10a) in 14 games with the Hitmen during the 2019-20 season following a trade from Tri-City, is in the AHL with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The 22-year-old has eight points (6g, 2a) in 41 games.
UPCOMING GAMES: Calgary will wrap up their four game homestand on Wednesday, Feb. 23 against the Prince Albert Raiders. It’s the TELUS BE BRAVE #EndBullying game with a 6:00 p.m. start Scotiabank Saddledome. To ensure accessibility for everyone, the Hitmen and TELUS are also hosting a free online virtual morning event the same day at both 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. Attendees to both the game and online events are encouraged to wear pink in support of the campaign and in recognition of Pink Shirt Day.