HITMEN HEADLINES: After a season-high nine-game road trip, the Calgary Hitmen (37-17-1-3) return to the Scotiabank Saddledome and tonight host the Victoria Royals (32-20-1-4). Beginning in the Eastern Conference, the road swing started off rocky as the Hitmen dropped three of their first four games, including a heartbreak loss in Swift Current with 0.8 seconds left in regulation. Calgary’s fortunes turned around when the team traveled south of the border to face all five U.S. Division clubs. The Hitmen won four of five games, including a 4-3 win over the CHL’s top ranked club, the Portland Winterhawks. Finishing their travels with five wins and four losses, Calgary sits third in the Eastern Conference, nine points behind the conference-leading Edmonton Oil Kings and nine points ahead of the fourth place Prince Albert Raiders.
VS. VICTORIA: This evening is the third and final meeting of the season between the Hitmen and Royals, with each club recording a win in their own barn. In the first game of the year between the two teams, familiar faces stole the show as former Royal Zane Jones scored the lone goal for Calgary, while former Hitmen forward Alex Gogolev netted two markers for Victoria. When the Royals made their first trip to the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Hitmen added three third period tallies to top Victoria 5-2. Last season, Calgary made two trips to Victoria, picking up wins in both meetings against the Royals.
Oct. 18/12 in VIC: Royals 3 Hitmen 1 … Alex Gogolev scores two goals, including the game winner to defeat his old club.
Nov. 9/12 in CAL: Hitmen 5 Royals 2 … B. Brassart (1g, 2a) and A. Roach (2g, 1a) both notched a game-high three points.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Shots on Goal: CAL 47 VIC 58
Power Plays: CAL 2-8 (25.0%) VIC 1-10 (10.0%)
HITMEN TEAM LEADERS:
Goals (31) Cody Sylvester
Assists (39) Brooks Macek
Points (68) Cody Sylvester
Power Play Goals (11) Cody Sylvester
PIM (111) Jaynen Rissling
Plus/Minus (+39) Alex Roach
Wins (28) Chris Driedger
DOME SWEET DOME: After a nine-game road swing, Calgary will play their first game at the Scotiabank Saddledome since Jan. 27 against Brandon. Of their 14 remaining contests, the Hitmen will only play five more games on the road this season. Calgary has won their last five games at home, holding a 16-8-1-2 record when playing at the ‘Dome.
FAMILIAR FACES: For the third time this year, Zane Jones and Alex Gogolev will have the chance to face their former teams after being traded for one another in September. Jones, who sits sixth in team scoring with 38 points (18g, 20a), laced up for 68 games with Victoria last season. Alex Gogolev, who scored 25 goals in a Hitmen jersey last year, leads the Royals with 65 points (20g, 45a) this season. Calgary will also face former bench boss Dave Lowry who led the Hitmen to a 59-9-3-1 regular season record during 2008-09 campaign. Traded from Victoria to Calgary before the WHL Trade Deadline, Jesse Zgraggen will take on his former teammates for the first time. After recording one goal and six assists over 33 games with the Royals this season, the Lethbridge, Alberta native has two goals and four assists in 17 games with Calgary.
STREAKIN’: Cody Sylvester (5g, 5a) has 10 points over five straight games. Swedish import Victor Rask (5g, 2a) has goals in three straight games and points in four straight. Brooks Macek (2g, 5a) and Brady Brassart (2g, 1a) both have points in three consecutive contests. Kenton Helgesen has recorded an assist in back-to-back matches as well as in four of his past five games.
HISTORICAL MARK: Captain Cody Sylvester is climbing the franchise record books. In his fifth season with the club, he is now sixth all-time in games played (302), 11th in goals (87), tied for ninth in assists (120) and is ninth in points (207). He needs one goal to tie Brett Sonne for 10th in goals with 88.
DID YOU KNOW?: Dating back to 2007-08, the Hitmen have had a defenceman score 14 or more goals in six of the past seven seasons. This year, LA Kings’ prospect Alex Roach has a career-high 14 goals after netting three on the Calgary’s nine-game road swing. Roach joins Collin Bowman, Michael Stone, Paul Postma and Keith Seabrook as Hitmen blueliners with at least 14 goals in a season over the last seven years. The single season team record for most goals by a defenceman is held by Postma, who tallied 23 goals in 2008-09.
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 captain Cody Sylvester at the Booster Club table located by section 212 after the game.
UPCOMING GAMES: Calgary will play their next two games at home, including tomorrow evening against the Regina Pats, with a 4 p.m. puck drop. After hosting the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday, Feb. 22, the Hitmen will head to Kootenay the following night to battle the Ice.