PREVIEW: LETHBRIDGE AT CALGARY

Dec 28, 2012 - 02:23 MST

HITMEN HEADLINES: The Calgary Hitmen (23-8-1-3) return from the holiday break to take on the Lethbridge Hurricanes (17-16-1-4) in the first half of a home-and-home set tonight at the ‘Dome. Pre-Christmas Hitmen team highlights include: setting a new franchise record for most shots in a period at 27 in a 5-0 road win against Prince George on Oct. 16, pink ice at the ‘Dome on Oct. 28 for the Hitmen Fight Cancer game, Brady Brassart attending the 2012 SUBWAY® Super Series, the return of Swedish import Victor Rask from the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers and Ukrainian import Pavlo Padakin tallying the Teddy Bear Toss goal.

VS. LETHBRIDGE: Tonight is the third of six games between the Hitmen and Hurricanes. Calgary leads the season series 2-0 following a home-and-home sweep at the end of November. Defencemen Alex Roach (2g, 1a) and Jaynen Rissling (1g, 2a) are Calgary’s leading scorers in the series against Lethbridge with three points each.  Russell Maxwell (2a) leads the Hurricanes in points against the Hitmen this season. Eight other Lethbridge players have also recorded one point versus Calgary.  During the 2011-12 campaign, the Hitmen held a 3-2-1-0 record against the Hurricanes.  Over the last five seasons, Calgary is 17-7-2-0 against Lethbridge, including a 9-4-0-0 home record.  

SERIES RECAP
Nov.20/12 at Let: Hitmen 3 Hurricanes 2 ... Chris Driedger made a season-high 42 saves in the Hitmen net.
Nov.21/12 at Cal: Hitmen 3 Hurricanes 2 ... Jake Virtanen tallied the game winner with 27 seconds remaining in regulation.

INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: Cal 69  Let 60   
Power Plays: Cal 1-5 (20.0%)  Let 2-15 (13.3%)   
Next Meeting: Sat., Dec. 29 at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

HITMEN TEAM LEADERS:     
Goals (20) Cody Sylvester                   
Assists (25) Brooks Macek               
Points (40) Brooks Macek  
Power Play Goals (9) Cody Sylvester      
PIM (70) Kenton Helgesen
Plus-Minus (+20) B. Brassart, B. Macek       
Wins (18) Chris Driedger

HOLIDAY RETURN: After a 10-day Christmas break, Calgary resumes play tonight in the 36th game of their 2012-13 regular season schedule. Last year, the Hitmen also returned from the holiday break on Dec. 28, 2011, falling 3-1 to the Prince George Cougars. Following the Dec. 28 setback, the Hitmen went on a second half tear, winning 14-of-15 games from Dec. 30, 2011 - Jan. 29, 2012. In 2011-12, Calgary was 17-16-2-1 through 36 games before going on to finish the regular season with a record of 44-25-2-1.

HOME-AND-HOMES: Tonight the Hitmen play the first game of a home-and-home set against the Hurricanes, marking the sixth home-and-home series Calgary has played this year. Last season, the Hitmen only played two home-and-home sets, winning all four contests against the Broncos and Ice.  Calgary has won 9-of-10 games involved in home-and-homes this season and will play one more set, with the next home-and-home series on Mar. 15-16 against the Kootenay Ice.

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 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.  The Carolina Hurricanes prospect has recorded one game-winning shootout goal and one assist over two games played at the tournament. The Hitmen will also be without rookies Jake Virtanen and Josh Thrower, playing for Team Pacific at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Victoriaville/Drummondville, Quebec.  
MAC’S TOURNAMENT:  There are six Hitmen prospects playing in the 35th annual Mac’s AAA Midget Hockey Tournament in Calgary.  The list includes four Hitmen picks from the 2011 and 2012 WHL Bantam Drafts, including the club’s top two selections in 2012: Prince Albert Mintos (2) Lochlan Morrison (1997 Defenceman), Ryan Duret (1996 Forward);  Saskatoon Contacts (1) Terrell Draude (1997 Forward); Tisdale Trojans (2) Brennan Riddle (1997 Defenceman), Matt Foster (1995 Defenceman); and Winnipeg Wild (1) Evan Johnson (1996 Goalie).

STREAKIN’: Cody Sylvester has two goals and four assists in his last four games.

DID YOU KNOW?: In their franchise history, Calgary has played 10 home-and-home sets against Lethbridge, holding a 12-6-2-0 record over those contests.

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).

POST-GAME AUTOGRAPHS: Meet forward Calder Brooks at the Booster Club table located by section 212 after the game.

UPCOMING GAMES: Following tonight’s game, the Hitmen will travel to Lethbridge for the second half of a home-and-home set.  After a trip to Kootenay for a game on New Year’s Eve, the Brandon Wheat Kings will visit the ‘Dome on Jan. 2, 2013, with a 7 p.m. puck drop.

Sat., Dec. 29 at Lethbridge Hurricanes, 7PM, SN 960 The FAN   
Mon., Dec. 31 at Kootenay Ice, 5PM, SN 960 The FAN