GAME PREVIEW: WINNIPEG AT CALGARY
HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (18-20-5-2) four game homestand continues tonight against the Winnipeg ICE (31-6-2-1). Game time is 7:00 p.m. MT at Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on Tsuut’ina Nation. The move out of Scotiabank Saddledome was required to allow for the rescheduling of the National Lacrosse League contest between the Calgary Roughnecks and Vancouver Warriors. Doors open to Seven Chiefs Sportsplex at 6:00 p.m. and due to COVID-19 capacity limits tonight’s game is sold out. The Hitmen have dropped five in a row and are coming off Wednesday’s 3-2 home ice loss to Moose Jaw. Carter Yakemchuk, with his first career WHL goal, and Sean Tschigerl scored for the Hitmen who outshot the Warriors 40-30. Winnipeg has been idle since last Saturday when they posted an 8-2 home ice win over Swift Current. The Hitmen are seventh in the Eastern Conference with 43 points, two points ahead of Lethbridge which holds the eighth and final playoff spot. Winnipeg is second with 65 points, six back of first place Edmonton.
FAST FACTS: Calgary’s last 12 goals have been scored by 11 different players in Carter Yakemchuk Riley Fiddler-Schultz, Cael Zimmerman, Zac Funk, Blake Stevenson, Brandon Whynott, Sean Tschigerl (2), Grayden Siepmann, Blake Allan, Oliver Tulk and Steel Quiring….The Hitmen are 8-8-1-1 against the East Division….Winnipeg has played the fewest games of any team in the Eastern Conference at 40. By comparison, Moose Jaw has played the most at 50. Calgary sits at 45. Tonight kicks off a stretch of seven games in 10 nights for the ICE, all on the road.
vs WINNIPEG: Tonight is the second of four regular season meetings between the two clubs. Winnipeg took the opener by a score of 3-2 over three and a half months ago at Scotiabank Saddledome. It’s been so long that four Hitmen who played that night are no longer on the team. Blake Heward (1g, 1a) leads Calgary in the season series with two points. Mikey Milne (1g, 1a) and Nolan Orzeck (2a) are the top performers for the ICE, also with two points each. The two teams will battle again in 18 days on Tuesday, March 8 back in Manitoba.
2021-22 SERIES RECAP
Oct. 27, 2021 in CGY: ICE 3 Hitmen 2…Connor Geekie snapped a 2-2 tie with 3:54 remaining.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CGY 29 WPG 31 Power Plays: CGY 0-4 (0%) WPG 1-5 (20%)
STREAKS: Sean Tschigerl (1g, 1a) has points in back-to-back games.
HOME AND AWAY COMPARISON: The Hitmen are 11-8-4-0 on home ice this season. Winnipeg is 14-3-1-1 on the road.
WHL TOP-10: Riley Fiddler-Schultz is tied for sixth in the league in shots on goal with 192. His five game winning goals are tied for 10th…Sean Tschigerl tops the WHL in shorthanded markers with five…Brayden Peters is fourth in minutes played at 1,976 and fifth in saves with 935. His 16 wins are tied for 10th…Blake Stevenson is tied for 10th in power play assists with 17.
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 Steel Quiring is eligible to return to the line-up tonight after serving a one game WHL imposed suspension for an instigator and game misconduct in the final five minutes of last Saturday’s game in 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. Francis, who recently signed a WHL Standard Player Agreement with the Hitmen, 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 (0-1).
REGULAR SEASON CAREER MILESTONE WATCH: Blake Stevenson needs two assists for 50 while Riley Fiddler-Schultz is four points away from 100. Tyson Galloway is four games shy of 100.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Forward Mason Finley is in his first season in the WHL. Finley was selected by the Hitmen in the fifth round, 101st overall, in the 2019 WHL Prospects Draft. The 17-year-old product of Kelowna, BC has seven points (1g, 6a) in 26 games this season. His older brother Jack is a 19-year-old forward with the Winnipeg ICE.
ALUMNI WATCH: Kaden Elder, who played the 2018-19 season with the Hitmen, is playing U SPORTS Men’s Hockey with the University of Calgary Dinos. The 23-year-old forward has 16 points (10g, 6a) in 19 games to sit second in team scoring. Elder tallied 59 points (26g, 33a) with the Hitmen in 67 games.
UPCOMING GAMES: Calgary returns to Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday, Feb. 20 to welcome the Saskatoon Blades. Game time is 4:00 p.m. It’s also another Sunday Funday featuring “Farley’s Family Feast” with special $2 prices for cotton candy, water, pop, hot dogs and popcorn. In addition there are select $5 menu items. Calgary will then host Prince Albert on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 6:00 p.m. before heading to Lethbridge on Friday, Feb. 25.