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PREVIEW: CALGARY AT BRANDON

Jan 08, 2013 - 02:26 MST
Written By: Curle, Brad

HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (27-10-1-3) will look to extend their three-game winning streak as they open a four game road trip tonight in Brandon against the Wheat Kings (14-24-2-2). The Hitmen completed a sweep of their three game homestand on Sunday beating the Vancouver Giants 5-4. Brady Brassart scored twice including the game winner while Zane Jones, Pavlo Padakin and Greg Chase also scored for Calgary who got two assists each from Chase Clayton, Spencer Humphries and Alex Roach. At 58 points, Calgary remains third in the Eastern Conference standings, one point behind the conference-leading Edmonton Oil Kings.

VS. BRANDON: Tonight is the third of four meetings between the Hitmen and Wheat Kings. Calgary leads the season series 2-0 having outscored Brandon by a combined 14-4. During the 2011-12 campaign, the Hitmen held a 3-1-0-0 record against the Wheat Kings. Over the last five seasons during the regular season, Calgary is 11-6-1-0 against Brandon, including a 6-3-0-0 record in Manitoba.

SERIES RECAP
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.
Jan. 2/12 at CAL: Hitmen 10 Wheat Kings 2 ... B. Macek scored his second career hat trick.

INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 84 BDN 46
Power Plays: CAL 6-12 (50%) BDN 1-6 (16.7%)
Next Meeting: Sun., Jan. 27 in CAL, 4 p.m. MT

HITMEN TEAM LEADERS:
Goals (22) Cody Sylvester 
Assists (29) Brooks Macek 
Points (49) Brooks Macek
Power Play Goals (9) Cody Sylvester
Plus-Minus (+28) Alex Roach
PIM (82) Kenton Helgesen
Wins (21) Chris Driedger

BUS TIME: Starting tonight, the Hitmen will play 15 of their next 17 games on the road. Calgary is 13-2-0-1 in enemy rinks this season.

TRADE WINDS: On Monday the Hitmen acquired 19-year-old defenceman Jesse Zgraggen (“zuh-GRAG-in”) from the Victoria Royals in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. Zgraggen, a native of Lethbridge, Alberta, has tallied seven points (one goal, six assists) along with 34 penalty minutes over 33 games with the Royals this campaign. Currently in his third WHL season, the 6-1, 213-pound defenceman has recorded four goals and 18 assists for 22 points in 157 career games played with Victoria and the Chilliwack Bruins.

WORLD JUNIORS: Swedish import Victor Rask captured a silver medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, as Team Sweden fell 3-1 to Team USA. Rask recorded two goals and two assists for four points along with 16 shots on goal over six games played at the tournament. The Carolina Hurricanes prospect is expected to return to the Hitmen lineup on Friday, Jan. 18.

U-17 RECAP: Jake Virtanen and Josh Thrower have returned from the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Victoriaville/Drummondville, Quebec, where they suited up for Team Pacific. Virtanen recorded seven points (5g, 2a) over five games played, while Thrower had one goal and one assist over the same span. Team Pacific finished the 2013 tournament in fifth.

WHL AWARD: Calgary Hitmen forward Cody Sylvester is the Denny’s WHL Player of the Week. Sylvester collected eight points, scoring two goals and six assists to go with a +5 rating, in four games over the past week. The 20-year-old currently sits 14th among all WHL snipers with 22 goals and 27th among scorers with 43 points in 38 games played. It’s the first time this season a Hitmen player has earned the award.

STREAKIN’: Zane Jones has the longest active goal scoring streak in the WHL at five games (5g, 4a). Cody Sylvester (2g, 7a) is on a five game point streak. Pavlo Padakin has goals in three straight and points in four straight (4g, 1a). Brady Brassart (3g, 5a), Alex Roach (1g, 5a) and Spencer Humphries (5a) are all on a three game point streaks. Peter Kosterman (2a) has points in back-to-back games. Chris Driedger has won his last three starts stopping 70-of-74 shots.

SPECIAL TEAMS: After a 3-43 drought, the Hitmen power play as come to life going a combined 9-16 (56.3) in its last three games. The penalty kill has also been solid of late killing 28 of its last 31 (90.3%) with two of the three goals allowed scored when the Hitmen were down 5-on-3.

DID YOU KNOW?: Calgary has scored a combined 21 goals in their last three games to move into a tie with Saskatoon for the third most goals scored in the Eastern Conference at 140, an average of 3.1 per games. The Hitmen have given up the second fewest goals in the conference at 106, an average of 2.59 per game.

MILESTONE WATCH: Chris Driedger is three games shy of his 100th career WHL contest, while Kenton Helgesen is three games away from hitting 100 games played. Brendan Hurley is three games away from his 200th career game, while Jaynen Rissling is five contests shy of his 200th.

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).

UPCOMING GAMES: Calgary continues their four game road trip tomorrow in Moose Jaw before heading to Regina on Friday and Swift Current Saturday. The Hitmen then return to Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday, Jan. 18 to face the Prince George Cougars. Tickets for upcoming Hitmen games are available at all Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1-855-985-5000.