HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (20-7-1-3) visit the Red Deer Rebels (19-11-2-1) tonight at the Enmax Centrium. The Hitmen will look to get back in the win column following a 3-2 shootout setback to the Kamloops Blazers last night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The Hitmen held a 2-0 lead with goals from Zane Jones and Brady Brassart before the league’s top scorer, Colin Smith, answered back with a pair of markers. Chris Driedger made 18 saves in the Hitmen net, while Brassart also chipped in an assist in the loss. At 44 points, Calgary remains atop the Central Division, three points ahead of Red Deer.
VS. RED DEER: Tonight is the fifth of six meetings between the Hitmen and Rebels. Calgary has recorded at least one point in each game of the series this season. Hitmen captain Cody Sylvester leads Calgary in scoring against the Rebels with six goals and one assist in four games, while Brooks Macek (1g, 3a) and Alex Roach (4a) each have four points over the same span. Calgary Flames prospect Turner Elson tops the Rebels with five points (3g, 2a) over three games in the series. Last season, Calgary won five consecutive contests against the Rebels after dropping a 4-2 decision on Oct. 7, 2011. Over the last five campaigns, Calgary is 19-6-1-2 against Red Deer, including a 10-3-0-1 record when on the road.
Sept. 21/12 in RD: Hitmen 3 Rebels 2 … C. Sylvester had a hand in all three Calgary goals scoring twice and setting up another.
Sept. 29/12 in CAL: Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 OT … Brady Brassart and Cody Sylvester each netted power play markers.
Oct. 13/12 in CAL: Hitmen 4 Rebels 2 … Cody Sylvester scored two goals including the game winner.
Oct. 27/12 at RD: Rebels 4 Hitmen 3 SO … B. Gaudet scored in the seventh round of the shootout lifting the Rebels to a 4-3 win.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 156 RD 108
Power Plays: CAL 7-18 (38.8%) RD 1-14 (7.1%)
Next Meeting: Sun., Mar. 10 at Calgary, 4PM
HITMEN TEAM LEADERS:
Goals (18) Cody Sylvester
Assists (24) Brooks Macek
Points (36) Brooks Macek
Power Play Goals (9) Cody Sylvester
Plus-Minus (+21) Brady Brassart
PIM (66) Kenton Helgesen
Wins (16) Chris Driedger
BACK-TO-BACKS: This season, the Hitmen are 6-1-1-1 when playing back-to-back games (excludes contests involved in three games in three nights). On Sept. 29, Calgary faced Red Deer in the second game of a back-to-back set. After posting a 4-1 road win in Edmonton on Sept. 28, the Hitmen were dealt a 3-2 overtime loss at the hands of Rebels the following night at the ‘Dome.
PLAYER OF THE MONTH: Goaltender Chris Driedger was named the club’s Ed Williams Player of the Month for November. Driedger, also named the VAUGHN WHL Goaltender of the Month, posted an 8-1-0-0 record through November with a 1.87 goals-against average and 0.935 save percentage. Last season, the 18-year-old Ottawa Senators prospect was named the Ed Williams Player of the Month for October and the VAUGHN WHL Goaltender of the Month for January.
TEAM SWEDEN: Defending gold medallist Sweden announced forward Victor Rask has been named to their 25-player preliminary roster for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. Rask is one of the six returnees this year, joining his fellow 2012 gold medallists Jeremy Boyce-Rotevall, Sebastian Collberg, Filip Forsberg, William Karlsson and Rickard Rakell. He is also one of the six players representing North American teams at the tournament. Rask, forwards Rakell and Nick Sörensen, goalie Oscar Dansk and defencemen Rasmus Bengtsson and Hampus Lindholm, have all been released from their respective clubs to join Team Sweden. Rask, who heads overseas on December 13, is the lone WHL player representing Sweden.
TEAM PACIFIC: Rookies Jake Virtanen and Josh Thrower have been named to Team Pacific for the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Dec. 29, 2012 to Jan. 4, 2013 in Victoriaville/Drummondville, Quebec. Forward Greg Chase represented Team Pacific at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Windsor, Ontario one year ago.
STREAKIN’: Brady Brassart (1g, 8a) is riding a five-game point streak, while Victor Rask (1g, 6a) has seven points in four straight games. Spencer Humphries has three assists over his last three contests. Alex Roach (2g, 3a) had his career-high four-game point streak snapped in last night’s 3-2 shootout loss to Kamloops.
MILESTONE WATCH: Brendan Hurley is 10 games away from his 200th career WHL contest. Hurley, an October roster addition, has a career total of 30 points in 190 games played with Calgary, Medicine Hat and Kootenay, accumulating 15 goals and 15 assists while amassing 305 penalty minutes.
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 now returns to the Scotiabank Saddledome for a three-game homestand that begins Saturday, Dec. 15 against the Regina Pats. The Hitmen will also face Kelowna (Dec.16) and Edmonton (Dec. 18) before going on a break over the Christmas holidays. Single game day tickets are available at all Ticketmaster locations and online at www.ticketmaster.ca.
Sat., Dec. 15 vs. Regina Pats, 7 p.m., SN 960 The FAN
Sun., Dec. 16 vs. Kelowna Rockets, 4 p.m., SN 960 The FAN