If the first game of 2013 is any indication of how the Hitmen will fare for the remainder of the season, Calgary has made a considerable statement.
In a night of multiple milestones, the Hitmen led an unyielding attack against the Brandon Wheat Kings 10-2 on Wednesday evening at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“It was nice to have a type of game where we could give guys a lot of ice time and put them in situations where we haven’t [previously] to have some success and get that confidence,” analyzed bench boss, Mike Williamson.
On the rookie side, Chase Lang (2g, 1a) and Austin Calladine each received a new piece of bookshelf hardware, as they both recorded their first career WHL goal.
“It was great to see Calladine get his first goal. Him and I have been playing on the same line a lot this year and it feels great to get our first goals,” recounted Lang of their inaugural tallies, taking place just over 10 minutes apart in the third period.
The night was also momentous for a trio of Hitmen veterans. Brady Brassart registered a career high four-point performance (1g,3a) while Brooks Macek sent caps flying with his second-career hat trick.
“In a game where the puck is going in for you and pretty much everyone on the team, it feels good to get the hat trick but it’s feels even better when the young guys are scoring,” expressed Macek, who scored his first WHL hat trick against the Wheat Kings on January 25, 2012 in a 7-2 home ice victory.
In his fifth season in a Hitmen uniform, Cody Sylvester surpassed 100 career WHL assists, as he had a hand in three of the 10 season-high Hitmen goals.
Tonight’s win bridges the gap between home and away success, improving Calgary’s home record to 12-8-1-2.
With the ice still glistening 1:03 into the opening frame, Zane Jones dished it to Pavlo Padakin, waiting on the doorstep. The Ukrainian forward did not delay as he landed it in the wide-open cage.
Seven minutes later, Brassart was the beneficiary of some puck luck as he banked in a shot off a Wheat Kings defender.
Calgary continued to inflict further damage as Brooks Macek hits his target through traffic over the blocker of Curtis Honey on the first power play opportunity of the night.
Brandon reciprocated five minutes later as Chad Robinson put the Wheat Kings on the board entering into the first intermission.
The offensive onslaught slowed in the second period as Macek collected a fantastic feed from Sylvester and trickled the puck through the five hole of Brandon’s backstop.
However the point draught would be short-lived as a total of seven goals were registered throughout the final 20, including six off the sticks of Hitmen players.
Jones (1g, 2a), Chase Clayton (3a), Alex Roach (3a) also had three-point outings as 12 Hitmen recorded at least one point in the scoring buffet.
Special teams played a significant factor as Calgary recorded half of their goals on 5-of-9 power play opportunities.Chris Driedger made 16 saves for Calgary as the Hitmen outshot the Wheat Kings 44-18.
Calgary now leads the season series two games to none, following a 4-2 road win at the Keystone Centre in early November. During the 2011-12 regular season campaign, the Hitmen held a 3-1-0-0 record against the Wheat Kings.
“Obviously Brandon was pretty banged up and had some key guys missing so it’s a situation where we should have came out with the pedal down and for the most part we did,” noted Williamson as five players were absent from the Wheat Kings lineup due to international competition.
Calgary, now 25-10-1-3, will remain at home for two more games, hosting the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday, January 4 and Vancouver Giants on Sunday, January 6. Friday’s contest begins at 7 p.m., while puck drop is 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets for upcoming Hitmen games are available at all Ticketmaster locations as well as the Scotiabank Saddledome box office. Order online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1-855-985-5000. For more information on tickets, including the Sunday Ticket Pack and Name Your Game Flex Package, contact customer service at 403-777-4646.