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HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (24-10-1-3) open a three-game homestand tonight when they host Calgary Flames prospect Michael Ferland and the Brandon Wheat Kings (14-21-2-2) at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary enters tonight’s contest after falling 3-2 to the Kootenay Ice on New Year’s Eve at Western Financial Place. The loss snapped Calgary’s eight-game winning streak on the road. Zane Jones and Cody Sylvester scored for the Hitmen who twice came back to tie the game after falling behind 1-0 and 2-1. Mack Shields, making just his ninth career WHL start, made 34 saves in the loss as Kootenay outshot Calgary 37-32. At 52 points, the Hitmen sit third in the Eastern Conference standings, three points behind the conference-leading Edmonton Oil Kings.
VS. BRANDON: Tonight is the second of four meetings between the Hitmen and Wheat Kings, with Calgary leading the season series following a 4-2 road win at the Keystone Centre in early November. The line of Greg Chase, Chase Clayton and Pavlo Padakin combined for seven points in the win. Chase had three assists, while Clayton and Padakin both had one goal and a helper. Brendan Hurley and Brooks Macek also scored for Calgary who jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead. Five Brandon players have recorded one point versus Calgary including Ryan Pulock (1g) and Chad Robinson (1g). During the 2011-12 campaign, the Hitmen held a 3-1-0-0 record against the Wheat Kings. Over the last five seasons, Calgary is 10-6-1-0 against Brandon, including a 4-3-1-0 record when playing at the ‘Dome.
Nov. 3/12 at BDN: Hitmen 4 Wheat Kings 2 ... The line of G. Chase, C. Clayton and P. Padakin combined for seven points in the win.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 40 BDN 28
Power Plays: CAL 1-3 (33.3%) BDN 0-3 (0%)
Next Meeting: Tue., Jan. 8 at BDN, 6 p.m. MT
HITMEN TEAM LEADERS:
Goals (21) Cody Sylvester
Assists (27) Brooks Macek
Points (43) Brooks Macek
Power Play Goals (9) Cody Sylvester
PIM (82) Kenton Helgesen
Plus-Minus (+20) Alex Roach
Wins (19) Chris Driedger
EAST FEAST: During the 2011-12 season, Calgary held a 17-5-1-1 record against teams from the East Division. The East Division was one of two divisions where Calgary had huge success against, the other being the B.C. Division where the Hitmen went 10-1-0-0 last campaign. This year, the Hitmen are 6-1-0-1 against the East Division.
ROSTER ADDITION: Defenceman Ben Thomas, selected by the Hitmen in the third round, 45th overall, in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, has been added to the roster. The 16-year-old Calgary product has recorded three points (2g, 1a) over 22 games with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs and Calgary Canucks this season.
GOING INTERNATIONAL: Calgary is without the services of Victor Rask who is with Team Sweden at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. The Carolina Hurricanes prospect has recorded two goals, including one game-winning marker, and one assist along with 14 shots on goal over four games played at the tournament. The Hitmen lineup is also missing rookies Jake Virtanen and Josh Thrower, playing for Team Pacific at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Victoriaville/Drummondville, Quebec. Virtanen has five points (4g, 1a) over three games played, while Thrower has recorded one assist over the same span. Team Pacific next sees action tonight when they face-off against Team West at the Colisée in Victoriaville (5:30 p.m. ET).
STREAKIN’: Cody Sylvester, sitting second in team scoring with 37 points, has one goal and two assists in his last two games.
DID YOU KNOW?: The Hitmen have killed their last 17 short handed situations, while capitalizing on one out of 11 power play opportunities when Brooks Macek scored on the man advantage in a 2-1 setback against Lethbridge.
MILESTONE WATCH: Kenton Helgesen is six games shy of his 100th career WHL contest, while Chris Driedger is five games away from hitting 100 games played. Jaynen Rissling is seven games away from his 200th career game, while Brendan Hurley is six contests shy of his 200th. Cody Sylvester needs one more helper to reach 100 career assists.
NHL PROSPECTS: Chris Driedger (Ottawa 2012); Kenton Helgesen (Anaheim 2012); Jaynen Rissling (Washington 2012); Alex Roach (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Los Angeles 2011); Victor Rask (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Carolina 2011).
GEEP GREEN DAY: Global Electric Electronic Processing (GEEP) is helping Alberta communities keep electronic waste out of our landfills. Fans are encouraged to bring used electronics to the games on Jan. 2, 4, 6 and 18 to be recycled by GEEP. Drop-off stations will be located at both the Avison Young Club and West entrances of the ‘Dome from 5-10 p.m. on game days.
POST-GAME AUTOGRAPHS: Meet defenceman Peter Kosterman at the Booster Club table located by section 212 after the game.
UPCOMING GAMES: Calgary will remain at home for two more contests, facing the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday, Jan. 4 and Vancouver Giants on Sunday, Jan. 6, before heading east on a four-game road swing.
Fri., Jan. 4 vs. Moose Jaw Warriors, 7 p.m., SN 960 The FAN
Sun., Jan. 6 vs. Vancouver Giants, 4 p.m., SN 960 The FAN