PREVIEW: KAMLOOPS AT CALGARY

Oct 14, 2012 - 06:29 MDT

HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (6-0-1-1) put their early season hot streak on the line today as they take on the Kamloops Blazers (7-0-0-1) this afternoon at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Playing their third game in as many nights, the Hitmen are fresh off yesterday’s 4-2 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. Cody Sylvester (2g) and Brooks Macek (1g, 1a) played a key role in the win as they continue to excel in their final WHL season. Jake Virtanen opened the scoring against Red Deer, while five different Hitmen chipped in a helper in the victory including netminder, Mack Shields who registered 17 saves to record his first career WHL win.  The 17-year-old Saskatoon product was selected by the Hitmen in the fourth round, 88th overall, in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.

VS. KAMLOOPS:
The defending B.C. Division champion Kamloops Blazers make their first trip to the Scotiabank Saddledome since the 2010-11 campaign for the first of two meetings against the Hitmen. Last year, Calgary made two trips to Kamloops, recording four points over two road wins. Collin Bowman was the top scorer in the 2011-12 season series between the Hitmen and Blazers as he collected one goal and four assists. Dylan Willick was Kamloops leading scorer against Calgary with two goals and one assist.
LOOKING BACK
Dec. 30/11 in KAM    Hitmen 6 Blazers 3     Jake Virtanen netted his first WHL goal, while C. Bowman (1g, 2a) recorded three points.
Feb. 18/12 in KAM    Hitmen 5 Blazers 4    Cody Sylvester (2g, 1a) and Jimmy Bubnick (1g, 2a) each had three points in the win.

INSIDE THE 2011-12 SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 60 KAM 59    Power Plays: CAL 6-13 (46.2%) KAM 4-12 (33.3%)   Next Meeting: Tues., Dec. 11 at Calgary, 7 p.m.

GETTING THE POINT:  This season, Calgary has played eight games, recording at least one point in every contest.  The last time the Hitmen began a season registering at least one point in every contest over an eight-game span was during the 1999-00 campaign.  That season, Calgary posted seven wins and one tie from Sept. 26 - Oct. 10, 1999 before dropping a 6-2 decision against Swift Current. The franchise record for most games without a regulation loss to start a season dates back to 1998-99 campaign when the Hitmen went 11 games before finally falling in 60 minutes. The Kamloops Blazers are the only other team in the WHL without a regulations loss in 2012-13. The Blazers’ lone loss came in a shootout on Sept. 28 against Victoria.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE: Last night’s regulation win over Red Deer ended a streak that had seen the Hitmen play four-straight games past 60 minutes. The streak started on Sept. 29 as Red Deer edged Calgary in overtime and continued on Oct. 5 as Prince Albert won 5-4 in a shootout.  On Oct. 7, the Hitmen picked up their first extra session victory against the Oil Kings, before recording a 5-4 shootout win in Edmonton Friday night.  The streak marked the first time in franchise history the team had played four consecutive games that surpassed regulation.

BACK IN YYC: Calgary native Rob Trzonkowski returns to his hometown to battle his former team. This past summer Trzonkowski was dealt by the Hitmen to the Blazers in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. In his career with Calgary, the gritty forward posted four goals and added 12 assists for 16 points while amassing 200 penalty minutes over 111 games. This season, Trzonkowski has recorded one goal and one assist for two points along with 15 penalty minutes in eight games played.

STREAKIN': Brooks Macek (6g, 8a) has 14 points in eight straight games. Brady Brassart (4g, 6a) had 10 points over seven games before being held off the board Saturday night.  Pavlo Padakin (2a) has points in back-to-back contests, while Alex Roach is an impressive +7 in his last four appearances. Chris Driedger has yet to lose in regulation this season and has two-straight wins in as many starts.

MILESTONE WATCH: Forward Brady Brassart is four games away from his 200th career WHL contest, while captain Cody Sylvester is two points shy of his 150th career WHL point.

NHL PROSPECTS: Chris Driedger (Third Round, Ottawa 2012); Kenton Helgesen (Seventh Round, Anaheim 2012); Jaynen Rissling (Seventh Round, Washington 2012); Alex Roach (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Los Angeles 2011); Victor Rask (Three-year, Entry-level Contract, Carolina 2011).

HITMEN FIGHT CANCER: Last week the Hitmen, in partnership with Delta West Academy, announced the launch of a month-long campaign to fight cancer. This fundraising initiative will continue to support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - Prairies/NWT Region (CBCF), as it has for the past three seasons, and for the first time funds will be raised for the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta (Kids Cancer Care). During the Hitmen Fight Cancer game on Sun., Oct. 28 against the Kelowna Rockets, players will wear pink jerseys that will be featured in an online auction until Tues., Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. MT. Fans can bid on these game-worn jerseys by visiting www.elevateauctions.com/hitmenhockeycancer.

POST-GAME AUTOGRAPHS: Meet defenceman Alex Roach at the Booster Club table located by section 212 after the game.UPCOMING GAMES: Calgary will now head out for a three-game B.C. road swing from Oct. 16-20, starting Tuesday night in Prince George, followed by stops in Victoria and Vancouver. The Hitmen return to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday, Oct. 26, as the Medicine Hat Tigers visit Calgary for the first time this season.